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Big science or bricolage: an alternative model for research in technical communication

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2 Author(s)
N. W. Coppola ; Dept. of Humanities, New Jersey Inst. of Technol., Newark, NJ, USA ; N. Elliot

Two research traditions inform contemporary technical communication research. With its physical science orientation and organizational capaciousness, the tradition of Big Science originated in the laboratory of Ernest O. Lawrence. With its humanistic orientation and individualistic singularity, the tradition of bricolage was identified in the fieldwork of Claude Le´vi-Strauss. The current celebration of the former in technical communication research serves to reify a power-driven impulse for utility. The two cultures that result from such an impulse-the organizational professional and the academic researcher-have little common ground for research. To interrupt such harmful dynamics, an orientation to research is offered that celebrates successful past work in technological innovation, information design, the communication process, and the ways those processes emerge in specific contexts. To foster the continuation of such research, a community-based model is offered that draws its strength from the tradition of the bricoleur.

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IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 3 )