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Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on

Popular Articles (December 2014)

Includes the top 50 most frequently downloaded documents for this publication according to the most recent monthly usage statistics.
  • 1. Paradox of richness: a cognitive model of media choice

    Page(s): 10 - 21
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (160 KB)  

    Researchers have long studied the effects of social presence and media richness on media choice and the effects of media use. This focus on social presence and social psychological theories has led to valuable research on communication. However, little research (either empirical or theoretical) has been done to understand the ways in which media choices influence the cognitive processes that underlie communication. In this paper, we present a cognitive-based view of media choice and media use, based on dual process theories of cognition, which argue that in order for individuals to systematically process messages, they must be motivated to process the message and have the ability to process it. We argue that the use of rich media high in social presence induces increased motivation but decreases the ability to process information, while the use of lean media low in social presence induces decreased motivation but increases the ability to process information. The paradox of richness lies in its duality of impact: from a cognitive perspective, rich media high in social presence simultaneously acts to both improve and impair performance. View full abstract»

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  • 2. Literature reviews in student project reports

    Page(s): 187 - 197
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (275 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Writing project reports is an important part of the engineering curriculum at Singapore universities. One important section of the formal report is the literature review. Most universities around the world provide guidelines on writing reviews, emphasizing that plagiarism is unethical. However, these guidelines do not offer explicit training on how to avoid plagiarism. In order to write academically acceptable reviews while avoiding copying from source materials, students face a major challenge and resort to employing various strategies to cope with the task. In this study, we examined the literature review sections of final year project reports to find out how engineering undergraduates in a Singapore university cope with writing reviews and to suggest ways in which they can extend their skills to improve their literature reviews. View full abstract»

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  • 3. A Path to Successful Management of Employee Security Compliance: An Empirical Study of Information Security Climate

    Page(s): 286 - 308
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1159 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: Although organizations have been exerting a significant effort to leverage policies and procedures to improve information security, their impact and effectiveness is under scrutiny as employees' compliance with information security procedures remains problematic. Research questions: (1) What is the role of information security climate (ISC) in cultivating individual's compliance with security policy? (2) Do individual affective and normative states mediate the effect of ISC to increase security policy compliance intention while thwarting employees' security avoidance? Literature review: Drawing upon Griffin and Neal's safety climate model, which states the effect of safety climate on individual safety behaviors that lead to specific performance outcomes, we develop an ISC model to empirically examine the efficacy of security climate in governing employee's policy compliance. The literature suggests that there could be practical reasons for employees not to observe the security policies and procedures. These go beyond the simple lack of use or negligence, and include rationalizing security violation, particularly in light of the fact that they are under pressure to get something done without delays in daily work. To empirically address such employee behavior, we employed the term, security avoidance in this study-an employee's deliberate intention to avoid security policies or procedures in daily work despite the need and opportunity to do so. Methodology: We surveyed IT users in South Korea about individuals' perception about various organizational/managerial information security practices in the work environment. Results and discussion: The results from 581 participants strongly support the fundamental proposition that the information security climate has a significant positive impact on employee's conformity with the security policy. The study also reveals that the security climate nurtures the employee's affective and cognitive states - hrough affective commitment and normative commitment. These, in turn, mediate the influence of security climate on employee policy compliance by facilitating rule adherence among employees while, at the same time, inspiring self-adjusted behaviors to neutralize their deliberate intents of negligence. Overall, the findings support our view that the creation of strong security climate is the adequate alternative to a sanction-based deterrence to employees' security policy compliance, which limits the presence of security avoidance. The implications to theory are the multidimensional nature of ISC construct and its linkage to a systematic view of individual level information security activities. The implications to practice are the ISC's favorable role of discouraging employee's security avoidance while inducing the security policy compliance intention at the same time, given the limit of sanctions. View full abstract»

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  • 4. The Role of Communication Complexity in Adaptive Contextualization

    Page(s): 98 - 112
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1027 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: Adding contextual information to a core message has been shown to be critical in improving communication quality, especially in computer mediated communication. This paper models how people contextualize messages in the face of changing communication complexity. Research question: Can changes in communication complexity that occur during the communication process explain and predict contextualization? Literature review: Theories of human communication and studies of computer supported collaboration suggest that communication complexity reflects potentially problematic conditions resulting from 1) the difference in perspective and context held by the collaborators; 2) the incompatibility between the message representation and the way it is interpreted and used by the receiver; and 3) the intensity of information exchanged between communicators. We use this definition as a basis of for developing a measure of cognitive communication complexity. The literature further suggests that higher communication complexity induces higher contextualization. Methodology: First, we conducted a pilot study to develop and validate measures of communication complexity. Second, we conducted a laboratory experiment, in which 258 participants working in pairs collaborated on a sixteen-step assembly task. They used a tailored system that structured each message as core (the essence of the message) and context (additional information that explains the core and the sender's perspective). We used unbalanced panel data analysis to examine the repeated measures of contextualization and communication complexity associated with each step of the task. Results and discussion: We found that collaborators respond to changes in communication complexity at the expense of higher collaborative effort. We offer a cost-benefit framework in which, at the step level, people contextualize to reduce the communication complexity, and at the task level, they additionally consider the impact - f contextualization on task performance. The main limitation of this study was the need to structure the communication between collaborators, to control and measure contextualization. Future research can adapt and extend our measure of communication complexity to less structured communication. View full abstract»

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  • 5. Enhancing Team Performance Through Tool Use: How Critical Technology-Related Issues Influence the Performance of Virtual Project Teams

    Page(s): 332 - 353
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1199 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: The project management of virtual teams differs from that of traditional ones. Traditional project risks, such as complexity, the uncertainty of factors influencing the project, and the high interdependency of project tasks must be managed alongside changed temporal, geographic, and cultural dimensions. Only a few studies have investigated the effect of critical technological issues, such as wrong tool selection or limited internet access on performance as well as team and team member satisfaction in virtual work settings. Research questions: How do critical technology-related issues concerning the selection and use of web-based tools influence the performance and satisfaction of virtual project teams? Literature review: Instead of categorizing virtual teams as a type of team that contrasts with traditional or face-to-face teams, the focus has shifted to virtualness as a characteristic present in all teams. Project teamwork is often integrated in university degree programs in order to prepare students appropriately for real-life projects. While these student teams are often not geographically spread across countries, they have a high degree of virtualness because of their diverse team composition, the necessity for working at different places, and the limited face-to-face meeting opportunities. Performance, effectiveness, and satisfaction are central issues in the evaluation and measurement of project teams: Team performance is often evaluated on the basis of acceptance of a specified output by a customer. Through specific mediating processes, team performance can alternatively be assessed by inquiring the team's perception on their performance. Effectiveness can be defined as the achievement of clear goals and objectives and it is often related to the team's performance. Finally, satisfaction can be defined as having three dimensions-satisfaction with the team, the satisfaction of meeting customer needs, and general satisfaction with extrinsic - ewards and work. Technology use is substantial for distributed teamwork and can be assessed by the extent to which it supports communication, collaboration, and project-management tasks. Methodology: Fifteen teams were observed and interviewed over a two-year period. The resulting data were analyzed using a Grounded Theory approach, which revealed how the selection and use of tools for communication, collaboration, and project management in the different project activities influenced the team's performance. Results and conclusions: Our results contribute to practice by providing a number of guidelines for the management of virtual teams as well as knowledge required by companies wishing to launch projects with virtual teams. Differing performances of teams can, in many cases, be attributed to such conditions as: internet availability and bandwidth; lack of training for certain tools; the selection and appropriate use of tools; integrated tool support for task management; as well as the promotion of transparency about progress made. It was found that restrictions in internet access of even a single member within a team limited the team's technological choices, which affected the team's performance. View full abstract»

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  • 6. Partial Least Squares (PLS) Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) for Building and Testing Behavioral Causal Theory: When to Choose It and How to Use It

    Page(s): 123 - 146
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1038 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Problem: Partial least squares (PLS), a form of structural equation modeling (SEM), can provide much value for causal inquiry in communication-related and behavioral research fields. Despite the wide availability of technical information on PLS, many behavioral and communication researchers often do not use PLS in situations in which it could provide unique theoretical insights. Moreover, complex models comprising formative (causal) and reflective (consequent) constructs are now common in behavioral research, but they are often misspecified in statistical models, resulting in erroneous tests. Key concepts: First-generation (1G) techniques, such as correlations, regressions, or difference of means tests (such as ANOVA or t-tests), offer limited modeling capabilities, particularly in terms of causal modeling. In contrast, second-generation techniques (such as covariance-based SEM or PLS) offer extensive, scalable, and flexible causal-modeling capabilities. Second-generation (2G) techniques do not invalidate the need for 1G techniques however. The key point of 2G techniques is that they are superior for the complex causal modeling that dominates recent communication and behavioral research. Key lessons: For exploratory work, or for studies that include formative constructs, PLS should be selected. For confirmatory work, either covariance-based SEM or PLS may be used. Despite claims that lower sampling requirements exist for PLS, inadequate sample sizes result in the same problems for either technique. Implications: SEM's strength is in modeling. In particular, SEM allows for complex models that include latent (unobserved) variables, formative variables, chains of effects (mediation), and multiple group comparisons of these more complex relationships. View full abstract»

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  • 7. A User-Centered Design Approach to Self-Service Ticket Vending Machines

    Page(s): 138 - 159
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1786 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Since their introduction, self-service ticket vending machines (TVMs) have become an increasingly important distribution channel in the public transport sector, progressively replacing the traditional ticket counter. In a public transport setting, where ticket counter closures have left different groups of people dependent on TVM to meet their mobility needs, a single, effective system is required. Research questions: (1) Which barriers do currently hinder the usage of TVM? (2) Which requirements should a barrier-free TVM fulfill? (3) How can we design a new self-service TVM for a nationwide public railway company? (4) How can we ensure that the usability and user experience (UX) is high for all users, especially for those with low levels of technological affinity? Situating the case: Most other studies on the use and usability of TVMs were conducted as post-hoc evaluations. In contrast, our case study presents a user-centered design (UCD) approach that takes the needs of the different target groups into account throughout the whole development process. Theories and concepts that guided the case included UCD, which involves alternating test and evaluation loops that actively involve users to create a usable product and UX, which describes the quality of the experience a person has when interacting with a specific computer system using a specific interaction technique. Methodology: More than 250 participants were involved in focus groups, observations, interviews, and experiments from the very first stages of development. Interface designs were presented to the future end users to obtain their feedback, with the results fed back into the design process. About the case: A prototype for a novel generation of TVM was developed in three phases: First, the context of use was analyzed. In the second phase, we conducted a requirements analysis. Third, different hardware and software interaction designs were iteratively tested and evaluated. The resulting prototype met the - equirements of most user groups, though further adjustments are necessary. Conclusions: The UCD approach proved to be a valuable framework for the development and design of self-service systems. View full abstract»

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  • 8. Functional and Nonfunctional Quality in Cloud-Based Collaborative Writing: An Empirical Investigation

    Page(s): 182 - 203
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1453 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: Collaborative writing has dramatically changed with the use of cloud-based tools, such as Google Docs. System quality-both functional (i.e., what services the system provides) and nonfunctional quality (i.e., how well the system provides the services)-influences user satisfaction with these tools. Research question: Do functional and nonfunctional quality influence user satisfaction in cloud-based systems that support collaborative writing? Literature review: The intersection of literature from collaborative writing and system quality presents the theoretical foundation for this study. The literature on collaborative writing suggests that technology facilitates and constrains collaborative writing, while the literature on cloud computing highlights the challenges in ensuring various aspects of quality. Furthermore, literature on system quality emphasizes the importance of the different facets of quality (i.e., functional and nonfunctional) and their impacts on user satisfaction. Methodology: We conducted a survey of 150 undergraduate students enrolled in an information systems course at a large urban university. Results: The results show that functional and nonfunctional quality play a critical role in shaping user satisfaction with cloud computing and that nonfunctional quality has a stronger impact than functional quality. Implications: To ensure satisfaction with cloud computing, organizations need to provide adequate development and maintenance resources to ensure both types of quality, and they need to recognize that nonfunctional quality plays a key role in shaping user satisfaction with cloud computing. View full abstract»

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  • 9. Interactivity of Corporate Websites: An Integrative Review of the Literature

    Page(s): 2 - 16
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (717 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: Corporate websites have been the subject of several research endeavors, and most of the research has focused on usability and interactivity. Since the emergence of the term Web 2.0, more websites have added social features to their base functionality, and this new type of interactivity has yet to be investigated. This study explores the research evolution in this field. Research questions: How has research on interactivity in corporate websites evolved? How can prior research be categorized? In each category, which of the research challenges has little or no research support? Literature review: Our approach to the topic is guided by four major streams of research-(1) the diffusion of innovations theory; (2) the technology, organization, and environment framework; (3) the institutional theory; and (4) the model from Iacovou et al. The analysis of the evolution of corporate websites showed three common types of corporate websites classified by their purpose and interaction intensity. Corporate websites hereby often benefit from the inclusion of design principles and patterns induced by the term Web 2.0. While examining the characteristics of corporate websites, usability and interactivity were found to be most important with reference to positive user response. Therefore, we clarified the concept of web-based interaction and reviewed the research on consumer response. Methodology: To gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of research on the interactivity in corporate websites, our study conducted a systematic and exhaustive literature review in which we identified and categorized several research issues. We conducted a qualitative analysis of 166 articles and classified relevant contributions by research issue and category. Results and conclusion: Among the identified research issues concerning interactivity that facilitates communication of the organization, only relationship management emerged as a dominant issue. Research issues concerning - nteractivity that facilitates e-commerce could be found most and they tend to focus on two main areas: decision support systems and recommendation agents on sales-oriented e-commerce websites and loyalty, satisfaction, and trust as key variables. Research issues concerning interactivity for interpersonal communication mainly focus on the user's individual motivation and successive behavior, and contain many different references to computer-mediated interaction and online communities. Research issues in the field of designing for interactivity discuss interface design questions and focus on numerous website characteristics and their impact. Given those issues, we make suggestions for future research that would explore the organizational behavior related to innovation diffusion on corporate websites. View full abstract»

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  • 10. Professional Communication in a Global Business Context: The Notion of Global Communicative Competence

    Page(s): 244 - 262
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (699 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    On the basis of an extensive survey study conducted among business professionals engaging in global communication, this paper discusses communicative competence. Rapid changes in work environments, particularly advancing globalization and new technology, have highlighted the need for expanding our knowledge of the elements that constitute communicative competence in global encounters. Competence has been investigated by several researchers; however, the language perspective, particularly the language used for international communication, that is, English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), has largely been ignored. Our findings indicate that global communicative competence (GCC) consists of three layers: multicultural competence, competence in English as a Business Lingua Franca (BELF) and the communicator's business know-how. Based on our findings, we present a model for GCC, which includes language as a key component. Implications for theory, practice, and education include the need for a multidisciplinary approach and the acknowledgement of ELF/BELF as the language of global interaction. ELF IBELF assumes a shared "core" of the English language, but focuses on interactional skills, rapport building, and the ability to ask for and provide clarifications. View full abstract»

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  • 11. Where Did We Come From and Where Are We Going? Examining Authorship Characteristics in Technical Communication Research

    Page(s): 266 - 285
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1840 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    This study explores the characteristics of authors who have published in technical communication journals between 2008 and 2012 to generate insights into who is actively contributing to scholarship in the field. These insights drive a broader discussion regarding programmatic implications and interdisciplinary approaches to research. Research questions: (1) Who is publishing in technical communication journals? In which departments are they housed and in which departments did they receive their Ph.D. training? (2) What relationship exists between an author's departments (current and Ph.D.) and the publication venues he or she chooses? (3) What relationship exists between an author's department (current and Ph.D.) and the type of research he or she produces? (4) What relationship exists between an author's department (current and Ph.D.) and collaboratively authored articles? Also, is there a relationship between doctoral training outside the US and collaboratively authored articles? (5) Among authors with Ph.D.'s in technical communication, is there a relationship between doctoral program and research output (collaboratively authored articles and research method)? Literature review: All disciplines, especially maturing disciplines, must examine and evaluate the research its scholars produce in order to identify trends that signal growth and areas that require additional growth. Previous research indicates that departments in which people trained and where they work influence the research profiles of individuals, and by extension, the field. This is particularly true in technical communication, whose research features a plurality of methods, a positive attribute of the field. However, an uneven distribution of research methods used in the field also presents potential areas for growth. Methodology: A data set of 674 authors who have published in the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication (TPC), Technical Communication Quarterly, and Journal of Business a- d Technical Communication (JBTC), between 2008 and 2012 was coded for current department, Ph.D. department, department with a technical communication degree program, research method, and collaboratively authored articles. Data were analyzed using contingency table analysis and correspondence analysis. Results and discussion: Authors from English departments constitute nearly 30% of the sample; authors from information systems and technology departments and management, business, and economics departments made up more than 20% of the total sample. A little over 20% of the sample received a Ph.D. degree in technical communication. Authors from information systems and technology departments and management, business, and economics departments are highly associated with TPC. Authors from English departments and writing departments were associated with TCQ and JBTC. TC is associated with authors from education departments and human-centered design departments. Authors from information systems and technology departments and management, business, and economics departments were associated with surveys and experiments. Authors from English departments were associated with case study and mixed methods research. Non-US authors and ones from engineering, computer science, linguistics, information systems and technology, and management, business, and economics departments were all highly associated with collaboratively authored articles. These results provide insights into which disciplines are most influential and opportunities to consider the approaches and training of our diverse population of scholars in an effort to build a cohesive body of research. The results are limited by the time frame of the study, and future studies could examine a more extensive sample to examine shifts in authorship characteristics over time. View full abstract»

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  • 12. Research Article Learning in Color: How Color and Affect Influence Learning Outcomes

    Page(s): 2 - 15
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (535 KB)  

    Research problem: The purpose of the study is to understand how affective reactions to color impact learning attitudes and outcomes in a computer-mediated learning environment. Research question: How do color differences change affective processes and outcomes in computer-mediated communication? Literature review: Several previous studies exploring particular characteristics and learning in computer-mediated environments influenced the review of the literature. The literature on color psychology indicates that color preferences and affective reactions to color can influence behaviors and attitudes. The literature on goal achievement motivation posits that affective dispositions influence goal orientation, motivation, and individual outcomes. The literature on affect infers that affective reactions are responses to events, and these reactions influence attitudes and behaviors. The current study draws on these prior studies to examine affective reaction to color and learning outcomes in a computer-mediated learning environment. Methodology: We conducted a quasiexperimental study with 79 participants, who listened to a visual presentation lecture with either blue or yellow background and then completed a survey on their affective reactions, learning attitudes, and outcomes. Results and discussion: The results of our study indicate that color is not neutral and may influence learning attitudes and outcomes and, hence, the color of computer technology interface design can influence learning outcomes. Practitioners and academics must take people's affective reactions to color into account in designs and studies of visual information presentations. The sample size and the focus on two color hues (yellow and blue) may have some limitations on the conclusions and generalizability of this study. Future studies should examine more color hues and color saturation to further our understanding of affective reactions to colors and consequent impact on attitudes and behavioral ou- comes. View full abstract»

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  • 13. R U There? Cell Phones, Participatory Design, and Intercultural Dialogue

    Page(s): 204 - 215
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (295 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Background: This case recounts my experiences during a four-year participatory design project with colleagues in Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where I attempted to develop a system for people working in rural areas to share business information via mobile phones. Research questions: For the first phase of this project: How do businesspeople in Katanga Province use their cell phones to support their business operations? How do they want to use these phones in their businesses? How do their use and attitudes compare with those of graduate students at a Midwestern US university? For the second phase of this project: Can a cell-phone delivered information system be designed for artisanal miners and small farmers in Katanga Province to share local pricing information for copper, cobalt, and maize? Situating the case: Researchers in participatory design for social and/or technological change have traditionally assumed that including users in early design phases will result in democratization of project outcomes. When these participatory design projects are situated in intercultural settings, however, they are complicated by political and economic conditions, as well as differences in values and social relations. Because participatory design relies on dialogue within robust, multimodal communication networks, weaknesses in this approach arise when trusted social relations are not in place upon which to build these multimodal communication networks. Cases of participatory design between colleagues in the US and Sub-Saharan Africa illustrate profound effects of political and economic inequities on participatory design projects. Methodology: This is an experience report of a project that developed initially from a classroom project in which my students in the US conducted a communication audit for a partner based in Katanga Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A US-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) arranged the partnership and I later - ent to the field to carry out this project. About the case: Working with an NGO while based exclusively in the US, we attempted to develop a system from which people working in rural areas could share business information, such as reporting business conditions in a rural location back to the NGO's Lubumbashi headquarters 75 km away, via mobile phones. The project did not work because people in Katanga were not familiar with the information design issues involved in the system and I was not familiar with the actual business situation at the NGO in Katanga. To address these issues, I traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and interviewed NGO staff and clients. But my presence in the NGO's Lubumbashi headquarters created irreparable social disruption. I continued the project with a new client in Katanga and revised goals for the information-sharing system, but that system, too, did not work for lack of a trusted social network of informants to participate in the information-sharing system. In the end, I was only able to complete an initial analysis of the needs. Conclusions: Despite the need to abandon the project, this case raised these questions about participatory design for information and communication technologies (ICT) projects when collaborators do not “speak the same language:” How can communication researchers effectively build trusted relationships with colleagues in developing nations in order to facilitate successful participatory design projects? Given the research obligations and reward structures at US universities, is it feasible for communication researchers to spend the time to build trusted relationships with colleagues in developing nations, which may not yield publishable research or quantifiable results for three years or more? Given the political and social conditions in many developing areas, can communication researchers rely on the stable conditions and personal relations that are necessary to conduct participatory de View full abstract»

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  • 14. Internet and Online Information Privacy: An Exploratory Study of Preteens and Early Teens

    Page(s): 167 - 182
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (913 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Information security and privacy on the internet are critical issues in our society. In this research, we examine factors that influence Internet users' private-information-sharing behavior. Based on a survey of 285 preteens and early teens, who are among the most vulnerable groups on the Web, this study provides a research framework that explains an internet user's information privacy protection behavior. According to our study results, internet users' information privacy behaviors are affected by two significant factors: (1) users' perceived importance of information privacy and (2) information privacy self-efficacy. The study also found that users believe in the value of online information privacy and that information privacy protection behavior varies by gender. Our findings indicate that educational opportunities regarding internet privacy and computer security as well as concerns from other reference groups (e.g., peer, teacher, and parents) play an important role in positively affecting the Internet users' protective behavior regarding online privacy. View full abstract»

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  • 15. Integrating Online Informative Videos into Technical Communication Service Courses

    Page(s): 340 - 363
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (2235 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Background: Online, informative videos are a popular genre of technical communication but little information is available for instructors to integrate the genre into technical communication courses. Research questions: (1) What are the logistics, considerations, and problems encountered when assigning authentic informative videos in introductory technical writing service courses? (2) Is an authentic informative video project in introductory technical writing service courses an effective learning assignment from the students' perspectives? Situating the case: Video has been discussed in technical communication literature since the 1970s and our discussion of video parallels technology development making video production and viewing possible for mainstream consumers. Recently, a revitalization of interest in video (particularly since 2012) reflects widespread adoption of smart phones with video recording capabilities, preinstalled and relatively simple video production applications on computers, video-sharing websites (YouTube), and high-speed internet connections enabling rapid video downloads by viewers. Yet, low-cost and easy-to-use communication technologies are often associated with the idiosyncratic application of design features and often do not transfer into effective communication. We often claim that technical communication programs are well situated to take a “leadership role” in mastering a new communication technology but our instruction of video has not kept pace with the rapidly evolving technology nor is it necessarily consistent with our own research findings. How this case was studied: In this experience report, I took a teacher-researcher role and triangulated my personal observations with a student-perception questionnaire and other student reflections on the assignment. About the case: The informative video project was used in a junior-level, introductory technical communication service course. The informative video assignment wa- an experiential learning assignment in which students worked in small teams to develop “real-world” communications for a peer audience. The learning objectives emphasized in the project include genre analysis, audience analysis, scriptwriting, visual-verbal communication, video production and technology, and project management and teamwork. Results: The logistics and considerations for developing informative videos in technical communication courses are discussed and student feedback reveals that this assignment was particularly useful for teaching audience analysis, technology skills, verbal-visual synergy of communication channels, and teamwork. Conclusions: Informative videos are a challenging project but offer a unique opportunity to examine audience analysis and teach verbal-visual parallelism. Furthermore, the equipment and production software are no longer barriers to assigning the project in technical communication courses. View full abstract»

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  • 16. Sharing knowledge through intranets: a study of organizational culture and intranet implementation

    Page(s): 37 - 52
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (188 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Explores factors affecting the implementation of intranets, which are the technology upon which many knowledge management (KM) systems are built. Because intranets facilitate the sharing of employee knowledge, many believe that organizational culture influences intranet implementation. The results of this study found that intranet implementation is facilitated by a culture that emphasizes an atmosphere of trust and concern for other people (ethical culture), flexibility and innovation (developmental culture), and policies, procedures and information management (hierarchical culture). Management should ensure that the proper values are in place to optimize intranet implementation and to facilitate knowledge sharing View full abstract»

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  • 17. Exploring Think-Alouds in Usability Testing: An International Survey

    Page(s): 2 - 19
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (2240 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: The study explored think-aloud methods usage within usability testing by examining the following questions: How, and why is the think-aloud method used? What is the gap between theory and practice? Where does this gap occur? Literature review: The review informed the survey design. Usability research based on field studies and empirical tests indicates that variations in think-aloud procedures may reduce test reliability. The guidance offered on think-aloud procedures within a number of handbooks on usability testing is also mixed. This indicates potential variability in practice, but how much and for what reasons is unknown. Methodology: An exploratory, qualitative survey was conducted using a web-based questionnaire (during November-December 2010). Usability evaluators were sought via emails (sent to personal contacts, usability companies, conference attendees, and special interest groups) to be cascaded to the international community. As a result we received 207 full responses. Descriptive statistics and thematic coding were used to analyze the data sets. Results: Respondents found the concurrent technique particularly suited usability testing as it was fast, easy for users to relate to, and requires limited resources. Divergent practice was reported in terms of think-aloud instructions, practice, interventions, and the use of demonstrations. A range of interventions was used to better understand participant actions and verbalizations, however, respondents were aware of potential threats to test reliability, and took steps to reduce this impact. Implications: The reliability considerations underpinning the classic think-aloud approach are pragmatically balanced against the need to capture useful data in the time available. A limitation of the study is the focus on the concurrent method; other methods were explored but the differences in application were not considered. Future work is needed to explore the impact of divergent use of think-aloud - nstructions, practice tasks, and the use of demonstrations on test reliability. View full abstract»

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  • 18. Research Article Phishing Susceptibility: An Investigation Into the Processing of a Targeted Spear Phishing Email

    Page(s): 345 - 362
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    Research problem: Phishing is an email-based scam where a perpetrator camouflages emails to appear as a legitimate request for personal and sensitive information. Research question: How do individuals process a phishing email, and determine whether to respond to it? Specifically, this study examines how users' attention to “visual triggers” and “phishing deception indicators” influence their decision-making processes and consequently their decisions. Literature review: This paper draws upon the theory of deception and the literature on mediated cognition and learning, including the critical role of attention and elaboration in deception detection. From this literature, we developed a research model to suggest that overall cognitive effort expended in email processing decreases with attention to visual triggers and phishing deception indicators. The likelihood to respond to phishing emails increases with attention to visceral cues, but decreases with attention to phishing deception indicators and cognitive effort. Knowledge of email-based scams increases attention to phishing deception indicators, and directly decreases response likelihood. It also moderates the impact of attention to visceral triggers and that of phishing deception indicators on likelihood to respond. Methodology: Using a real phishing email as a stimulus, a survey of 321 members of a public university community in the Northeast US, who were intended victims of a spear phishing attack that took place, was conducted. The survey used validated measures developed in prior literature for the most part and tested results using the partial least-squares regression. Results and discussion: Our research model and hypotheses were supported by the data except that we did not find that cognitive effort significantly affects response likelihood. The implication of the study is that attention to visceral triggers, attention to phishing deception indicators, and phishing knowledg- play critical roles in phishing detection. The limitations of the study were that the data were drawn from students, and the study explored one phishing attack, relied on some single-item measures, cognitive effort measure, and a one-round survey. Future research would examine the impact of a varying degree of urgency and a varying level of phishing deception indicators, and actual victims of phishing attacks. View full abstract»

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  • 19. Professional Virtual Worlds Supporting Computer-Mediated Communication, Collaboration, and Learning in Geographically Distributed Contexts

    Page(s): 160 - 175
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    Research problem: Although much research exists on virtual worlds, very few studies focus on professional virtual worlds used for working in a global setting. Research questions: (1) How do global managers currently use and experience professional virtual worlds (Virtual Worlds) as a communication media for global work? and (2) How do these Virtual Worlds support global and professional communication in a geographically distributed context? Literature review: We reviewed Virtual World literature in the area of social sciences, education, and games. Little research has been conducted on Virtual Worlds for workgroups. But those studies support the assumption that Virtual Worlds are suitable for global distributed work as a collaboration and communication medium. Methodology: With an explorative and qualitative interview research approach, we conducted 47 semi-structured interviews with virtual world vendors, researchers, and managers using virtual worlds in their work. Data were analyzed based on Grounded Theory Analysis methods. Results and conclusions: The results show four different use cases applied for professional Virtual Worlds: small team meetings, trainings, community building, and conferences. Furthermore, our findings confirm Virtual World literature that states that the professional Virtual World as a communication and collaboration tool supports geographically distributed work as well as visualization and learning in a global context. View full abstract»

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  • 20. In-Group (Us) versus Out-Group (Them) Dynamics and Effectiveness in Partially Distributed Teams

    Page(s): 33 - 49
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    Research problem: In partially distributed teams, where some members are co-located while others are geographically distant, co-located members tend to treat one another as a preferential `”Us” versus treating distant members as the outsiders, `”Them.” Research questions: (1) To what extent is Us-vs.-Them reported as a problem across a wide number of organizational partially distributed teams, and is it significantly related to team effectiveness? (2) What do members see as the greatest challenges to partially distributed teams? and (3) Can partially distributed teams overcome in-group dynamics? If so, how? Literature review: In our literature review, we begin by discussing in-group dynamics to set the theoretical framework for our research. We call these dynamics us versus them (Us-vs.-Them) and show, through empirical studies and organizational studies, what makes partially distributed teams especially susceptible to such dynamics. The major susceptibility factors we find are: limited synchronous availability, conflicting goals and responsibilities, and uneven communication channels. We then review literature that exemplifies conflict in such teams (even if it is not the focus of the study). We attempt to relate the resulting conflict or problem reported to the susceptibility factors identified. Methodology: We use qualitative and quantitative analysis from a survey of 238 professionals, recruited through snowball sampling, reporting on their experiences in partially distributed teams. Snowball sampling limits generalizability of the findings. Results and conclusions: We find that Us-vs.-Them can be traced back to the susceptibility factors that exist in partially distributed teams, particularly an imbalance in communication channels between versus within subgroups. A strong negative correlation between Us-vs.-Them and effectiveness indicates the importance of future research on Us-vs.-Them reduction. A key finding is that some sur- ey respondents report effective outcomes despite Us-vs.-Them; these responders also report different concerns than those who view their teams as ineffective. View full abstract»

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  • 21. Building trust in virtual teams

    Page(s): 95 - 104
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    This paper presents a study of trust development in online courses. It reviews the concept of swift trust and examines changes in faculty roles as professors go online. An exploratory content analysis looks at indicators of the development of swift trust in the highest rated of a large number of online courses studied over a three year period, and contrasts these results with one of the poorest rated online courses. Establishing swift trust at the beginning of an online course appears to be related to subsequent course success. Strategies for trust formation are also suggested. View full abstract»

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  • 22. Behavioral adaptation within cross-cultural virtual teams

    Page(s): 44 - 56
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    With today's business environments no longer confined to national borders, much work is undertaken in global virtual teams. Such teams consist of members located in different countries that communicate via technology media to complete a project task. Much of the research in this area has been focused on the technological aspects of such environments; there is, however, a lack of research into the behavioral aspects and the issue of cultural differences in particular. It has been acknowledged that when cultural diversity is neither recognized nor acted upon, significant challenges can arise for the team. Current advice in the literature suggests that team members should adapt their normal working behavior in consideration of cultural differences. However, there is little indication of how team members should do so. This study investigated if and/or how team members adapt their behavior in cross-cultural virtual teams. The results of this study indicate that team members can adapt their behavior in both spoken and written communication as well as allowing for religious beliefs and time zone differences. This paper discusses specifically how behavior can be adapted, including a discussion of behaviors that caused concern. Finally, a framework of behavioral adaptations is presented for ways to improve cross-cultural virtual team interactions. View full abstract»

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  • 23. Using NVivo to Answer the Challenges of Qualitative Research in Professional Communication: Benefits and Best Practices Tutorial

    Page(s): 68 - 82
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    Recent updates in qualitative data-analysis software have provided the qualitative researcher in professional communication with powerful tools to assist in the research process. In this tutorial, we provide a brief overview of what software choices are available and discuss features of NVivo, one prominent choice. We then use our experiences with the software to discuss how it enhances three specific dimensions of our research: efficiency, multiplicity, and transparency. We end with a compilation of best practices for using the software. View full abstract»

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  • 24. Impact of Journals and Academic Reputations of Authors: A Structured Bibliometric Survey of the IEEE Publication Galaxy

    Page(s): 17 - 40
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    Research problem: This study explores the use of bibliometric indicators to objectively evaluate IEEE scientific journals from two different perspectives: (1) journal impact and diffusion and (2) the academic reputation of journal authors. Research questions: (1) Which journals are better at selecting articles with high scientific impact (measured by average citations per article), and publishing authors with strong reputations (measured by h-indices)? (2) Does the impact of journal articles correlate positively with the reputations of their authors? and (3) Can bibliometric indicators provide a simple way for journal editors to monitor journal performance in a manner complementary to traditional ISI impact factor (IF)? Literature review: This paper reviews literature on citation analysis, a bibliometric method of measuring impact based on the number of times a work is cited, and explains such bibliometric indicators as CPP, Hirsch index, and IF which measure the impact of a journal, and introduces a new indicator called h-spectrum to objectively measure the reputation of a journal's author group. Methodology: This quantitative study performed citation analysis on 250,000 authors in 110 IEEE journals using citation statistics from the Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus databases to construct the h-spectrum indicator. The authors used automated filtering techniques to exclude questionable author data. Results and conclusions: The first phase of analysis indicated significant differences among IEEE publications in journal impact, and found that the h-index and CPP were suitable for evaluating journals except in their most recent five years where annual rankings are proposed instead. The second phase of analysis found that h-spectra distributions of author reputation differ among journals in a single year, and are generally stable for a single journal over five years. Maps were constructed to locate journals graphically based on the complementary indicators o- impact and reputation, and to show changes in impact and reputation over time. The maps indicated that journals with high impact tend to have authors with high reputations but the opposite is not necessarily true. Suggestions were made to explain different combinations of high and low impact and reputation for journals. The use of maps complements IF and provides a simple tool to monitor journal reputation at the time of most recent publication. The study is limited by assumptions about the value of citations, the reliability of search engine statistics, and the homogeneity of IEEE journal citation practices, as well as the failure to account for coauthors, article age, and authors who publish multiple times per year in the same journal. Future research could examine non-IEEE journals and normalize subfields within IEEE journals to avoid favoring fields that use more citations. View full abstract»

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  • 25. Writing research article introductions in software engineering: how accurate is a standard model?

    Page(s): 38 - 46
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    A standard model for describing the structure of research article introductions, the CARS (Create A Research Space) model, is evaluated in terms of how well it can be applied to 12 articles which have received “best paper” awards in the field of software engineering. The results indicate that, although the model adequately describes the main framework of the introductions, a number of important features are not accounted for, in particular: an extensive review of background literature, the inclusion of many definitions and examples, and an evaluation of the research in terms of application or novelty of the results View full abstract»

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  • 26. Using an AD-HOC Corpus to Write About Emerging Technologies for Technical Writing and Translation: The Case of Search Engine Optimization

    Page(s): 56 - 74
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    Technical writers and translators struggle with language consistency in emerging technologies. Corpus linguistics can track language structures in such quickly developing environments. An ad-hoc corpus may be the tool needed for technical communicators. Key concepts: Mega-corpora versus ad-hoc corpora: The term “mega-corpora” typically covers the existing national corpora, whereas ad-hoc corpora can be created quickly for technical communication. Variation versus consistency: variation covers the range of possible solutions compared to the need for consistency of terminology in given contexts. Representativeness versus adequacy: representativeness defines the possibility of variation within the scope of the field; in contrast , adequacy represents contextual suitability. Key lessons: To use ad-hoc corpora as a tool for keeping track of and understanding language variation in texts about emerging technology: (1) design and compile a small set of relevant descriptions regarding the emerging technology, (2) use the software corpus tool representation of corpora to evaluate whether the ad-hoc corpus is representative-meaning that adding new texts does not add new words or variations in terminology use, (3) use the software corpus tool AntConc to analyze the ad-hoc corpus finding concordance patterns and variation in terminology usage, and (4) use linguistic strategies for selecting terminology based on linguistic evidence rather than intuition. Implications for practice: The ad-hoc corpus method offers an evidence-based approach for determining patterns of terminology. This method can be applied to standardizing product documentation or tracking variations in language use and can help technical writers and translators keep track of evolving terminology for emerging technologies. View full abstract»

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  • 27. J. Grunig's asymmetrical and symmetrical models of public relations: contrasting features and ethical dimensions

    Page(s): 86 - 93
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    Issues surrounding the ethics and social responsibility of public relations are addressed through a discussion of J. Grunig's (1987) distinction between asymmetrical and symmetric organizational communication. His development of a research tradition for public relations is examined with particular attention given to conceptualizing organizations as political systems and exploring the contrasting presuppositions of asymmetrical and symmetrical models. Symmetrical presuppositions are presented as an ethical and effective framework for public relations theory View full abstract»

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  • 28. Differential Effects of the Volume and Diversity of Communication Network Ties on Knowledge Workers' Performance

    Page(s): 239 - 253
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    Research problem: For knowledge workers, such as IT professionals, the ties within their social network are a major channel for communicating the requisite knowledge and information. While prior studies tended to favor higher network centrality (i.e., larger volume of network ties), in this study, the researchers argue that centrality can reduce communication efficiency if the diversity of the ties is low. Research question: Which characteristic of communication ties, volume or diversity, has more influence on knowledge workers' performance? Literature review: Using social network analysis (SNA) as the theoretical framework, a review of the literature shows that social network ties have important performance implications because they can enhance an individual's access to valued resources. Studies have also examined the performance impact of “hindrance network centrality,” or how frequently a person is described by other network members as a hindrance to their performance. However, current research has overlooked the possible negative communication consequences of centrality in regards to redundant information, which may negatively affect job performance. Methodology: The current study employs a quantitative approach, using the standard SNA method of a “name generator” questionnaire to collect network data. Participants were 98 people in the IT department at a large defense company. We identified 3905 relationships and analyzed them with the UCINET software. Subsequently, social network variables, as well as performance and human capital variables were analyzed in logistic regressions. Results and discussion: Results showed a significant relationship between constraint, a measure of tie diversity, and performance. Centrality, the measure of tie volume, however, was not significantly related to performance. Our findings about the volume versus diversity of communication ties have important implications for professional communicators - n the age of fast-growing social network media. A limitation of our study is that we approximated communication ties with social network links. We suggest that future studies further validate our findings by using a more direct measure of communication ties. View full abstract»

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  • 29. “Shopping” for a Mate: Expected versus Experienced Preferences in Online Mate Choice

    Page(s): 169 - 182
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    Modern communication technology has greatly increased the number of options we can choose among in a variety of evolutionarily important domains, from housing to food to mates. But is this greater choice beneficial? To find out, we ran two experimental studies to examine the effects of increasing option set-size on anticipated and experienced choice perceptions in the modern context of online mate choice. While participants expected greater enjoyment, increased satisfaction, and less regret when choosing from larger (versus smaller) sets of prospective partners (at least up to a point; Study 1), participants presented with a supposedly ideal number of options experienced no improvement in affect and showed more memory confusions regarding their choice than did those participants presented with fewer options (Study 2). Participants correctly anticipated that greater choice would yield increasing costs, but they overestimated the point at which this would occur. We offer an evolutionary-cognitive framework within which to understand this misperception, discuss factors that may make it difficult for decision-makers to correct for it, and suggest ways in which dating websites could be designed to help users choose from large option sets. View full abstract»

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  • 30. A Study of How Information System Professionals Comprehend Indirect and Direct Speech Acts in Project Communication

    Page(s): 226 - 241
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (560 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: Indirect communication is prevalent in business communication practices. For information systems (IS) projects that require professionals from multiple disciplines to work together, the use of indirect communication may hinder successful design, implementation, and maintenance of these systems. Drawing on the Speech Act Theory (SAT), this study investigates how direct and indirect speech acts may influence language comprehension in the setting of communication problems inherent in IS projects. Research questions: (1) Do participating subjects, who are IS professionals, differ in their comprehension of indirect and direct speech acts? (2) Do participants display different attention processes in their comprehension of indirect and direct speech acts? (3) Do participants' attention processes influence their comprehension of indirect and direct speech acts? Literature review: We review two relevant areas of theory-polite speech acts in professional communication and SAT. First, a broad review that focuses on literature related to the use of polite speech acts in the workplace and in information system (IS) projects suggests the importance of investigating speech acts by professionals. In addition, the SAT provides the theoretical framework guiding this study and the development of hypotheses. Methodology: The current study uses a quantitative approach. A between-groups experiment design was employed to test how direct and indirect speech acts influence the language comprehension of participants. Forty-three IS professionals participated in the experiment. In addition, through the use of eye-tracking technology, this study captured the attention process and analyzed the relationship between attention and comprehension. Results and discussion: The results show that the directness of speech acts significantly influences participants' attention process, which, in turn, significantly affects their comprehension. In addition, the findings indicate that in- irect speech acts, if employed by IS professionals to communicate with others, may easily be distorted or misunderstood. Professionals and managers of organizations should be aware that effective communication in interdisciplinary projects, such as IS development, is not easy, and that reliance on polite or indirect communication may inhibit the generation of valid information. View full abstract»

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  • 31. Factors That Enable and Challenge International Engineering Communication: A Case Study of a United States/British Design Team

    Page(s): 242 - 265
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    Research problem: In recent years, many businesses have become involved in internationalized projects, yet understanding the dynamics of engineering communication in virtual dispersed teams is limited. Research questions: How do the factors mentioned in the literature function in an international engineering project? Are there factors that enhance or constrain the work in an engineering setting that are not mentioned in previous studies? Literature review: Existing knowledge on the contextual factors that affect virtual international professional communication is mainly built on the study of the communication practices of students or business professionals who are not engineers. Results of that literature have identified factors that enhance communication for dispersed virtual teams (which include cross-cultural training, using appropriate communication technology, face-to-face communication opportunities, respect for partners, regularly scheduled meetings, a common language, a common discipline, and cross-cultural understandings though popular media). There are factors that challenge communication for dispersed virtual teams (which include differing cultural assumptions, differing cultural communication styles, US Government export control regulations, proximity and time issues, and differing levels of perceived power and influence). Methodology: This study involved observing international engineer meetings in the US and the UK and interviewing 19 engineers leading an international design team. The participants worked for the same international company with about half from the US and half in Great Britain. Results and discussion: Many of the factors identified in general professional communication studies held true for this context. But some features were unique to an engineering environment that the literature had not previously mentioned, including iplanning for and working with intercultural dispersed virtual engineering teams and that people need to consider m- ny complexities of culture that affect communication practices. Because this study observed one team in the context of only two cultures, future research may determine whether these factors are more widely found in other teams, workplaces, and cultures. Future research may also determine the relative levels of influence of the contextual factors on international dispersed virtual engineering teams. In addition, the study of engineers learning to communicate in international settings may be illuminating. View full abstract»

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  • 32. Intercultural Communication Training in IT Outsourcing Companies in India: A Case Study

    Page(s): 262 - 274
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    This study examines the nature, manifestations and causes of communication problems in international outsourcing engagements. Specifically, it explores a case of business process outsourcing (BPO), which is the transfer of a number of business processes, such as payroll, supply chain management, and customer relations to an external supplier. In this case, a company based in the US outsourced its business processes to a company in India. (1) If widespread proficiency in English is the reason for India's predominant position in outsourcing, then why do we hear about communication problems? (2) What are the causes of such problems? (3) In what forms and situations do they manifest? (4) How could technical communication offer solutions to ameliorate or minimize some of these communication problems? Similar cases studied include previous studies of call centers in the Philippines and outsourcing relationships in software companies have identified challenges in those relationships to problems of intercultural communications, such as language use and differences in culture. Three areas of inquiry informed this study. Intercultural communication theories provide frameworks and touch points for assessing the role of culture in communication. Previous studies of outsourcing and offshoring provided definitions of the broad range of arrangements that comprise outsourcing. Although these studies all concluded that communication is a crucial factor in the success of outsourced projects, they offered few details of communication problems, their causes, manifestations, and possible solutions. Accounts of India represent India as a rapidly-growing, dynamic economy with certain typical communication problems. The study was designed as a mixed-methods, single-case study with a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative data were gathered through surveys that helped develop a picture of patterns in areas such as communication problems, preferred methods of communicati- n, and patterns of escalation while qualitative data from 45 personal interviews and one group interview provided insights into the nature and resolution of communication dissonances. The case studied ABC Corporation, a captive Indian company that performed BPO for a major American corporation. Communication problems that arise in the outsourcing relationship include differences in corporate culture and differences in linguistic and rhetorical choices. Issues causing these problems include differences in education and training. Ongoing training in cross-cultural communication is needed at all stages of the outsourcing cycle, with an emphasis on communication skills in the early stages of the process, especially the hiring stage. Technical communication can offer solutions to these problems because our field can help structure suitable training applying theories such as Cross' Theory of centripetal and centrifugal forces, which provide frameworks for assessing and addressing communication problems. View full abstract»

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  • 33. Communication failures contributing to the Challenger accident: an example for technical communicators

    Page(s): 101 - 107
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    Examination of the public documents available on the Challenger explosion shows that a history of miscommunication contributed to the accident. This miscommunication was caused by several factors, including managers and engineers interpreting data from different perspectives and the difficulty of believing and then sending bad news, especially to superiors or outsiders. An understanding of the dynamics at work in the Challenger case can help engineers and engineering managers elsewhere reduce miscommunication in their own companies View full abstract»

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  • 34. Media richness or media naturalness? The evolution of our biological communication apparatus and its influence on our behavior toward E-communication tools

    Page(s): 117 - 130
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    E-communication in businesses has been the target of intense research. The theoretical hypotheses that have informed the media richness hypothesis have been influential in some circles and have also been strongly attacked by social theorists. It is argued in this paper that this theoretical polarization involving advocates of the media richness hypothesis and social theorists is due to two problems. The first is that there is a wealth of empirical evidence that provides direct support for the notion that human beings prefer the face-to-face medium for a variety of business tasks that involve communication, which seems to provide support for the media richness hypothesis. The second problem is that the media richness hypothesis is built on a vacuum, as no underlying explanation was ever presented by media richness theorists for our predisposition toward rich (or face-to-face) media. The main goal of this paper is to offer a solution to these problems by providing an alternative to the media richness hypothesis, referred to here as media naturalness hypothesis, developed based on Darwin's theory of evolution. The media naturalness hypothesis argues that, other things being equal, a decrease in the degree of naturalness of a communication medium (or its degree of similarity to the face-to-face medium) leads to the following effects in connection with a communication interaction: (a) increased cognitive effort, (b) increased communication ambiguity, and (c) decreased physiological arousal. Like the media richness hypothesis, the media naturalness hypothesis has important implications for the selection, use, and deployment of e-communication tools in organizations. However, unlike the media richness hypothesis, the media naturalness hypothesis is compatible with social theories of behavior toward e-communication tools. Among other things, this paper shows that the media naturalness hypothesis (unlike its media richness counterpart) is compatible with the notion that, regardless of the obstacles posed by low naturalness media, individuals using those media to perform collaborative tasks may achieve the same or better task-related outcomes than individuals using media with higher degrees of naturalness. View full abstract»

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  • 35. Seeking an Effective Program to Improve Communication Skills of Non-English-Speaking Graduate Engineering Students: The Case of a Korean Engineering School

    Page(s): 41 - 55
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    Research problem: Many Asian universities have begun reforms to enhance educational competitiveness in our globalizing economy. This study aims to ascertain the status of English communication education and English-medium instruction at a Korean engineering school and to offer workable suggestions for English communication training for Korean graduate engineering students. Research questions: Should English communication education be offered at the graduate level in Korean engineering schools? How could English communication education be improved for Korean graduate engineering students? Literature review: Studies of English communication education for graduate engineering students indicate that English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students have English needs to publish internationally and English needs for English-medium instruction classes and for after graduation. Furthermore, individual assistance and e-learning programs might strengthen English communication education and academic writing for EFL graduate engineering students. Methodology: An evaluation study was conducted at an institution that has been leading the wave of English as the language of instruction. We collected data from documents as well as through surveys of faculty and students in graduate engineering programs. Results and discussion: The study was conducted at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The results showed that students' English fluency is critical for the success of using English as a medium of instruction. To facilitate this fluency, universities need to establish an English communication center that provides a comprehensive, systematic approach to English language training. Faculty also need the services of such centers. It is also advised that a thesis writing course be customized according to students' actual writing and communication abilities and enhanced with collaboration between engineering faculty and English education faculty. View full abstract»

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  • 36. Product Review Users' Perceptions of Review Quality: The Role of Credibility, Informativeness, and Readability

    Page(s): 309 - 324
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    Research problem: Gauging the quality of product reviews through helpfulness votes is problematic for a variety of reasons. We examine potential characteristics of review quality that span review credibility, informativeness, and readability to contribute to better ways of assessing review quality. Research question: Do specific review characteristics improve reviewer users' perceptions of review quality? Literature review: Studies from information systems, electronic marketing and commerce, and technical and professional communication suggest that characteristics of reviews fall into three areas, each with specific characteristics of quality. Findings from these studies suggest the 11 characteristics of review quality within those three areas as potential contributors to review quality. The first area is credibility, a construct consisting (in part) of expertise; we tested these potential specific characteristics of credibility: an assertion of a relevant role, of use of a prior model, of other products in the brand, of a similar product, of having conducted research on the product, and of having tested the product. The second area is informativeness, which is a review's diagnosticity. We tested these potential specific characteristics: a general recommendation, a specific recommendation, a statement about the product's value, and a statement about the extent to which the product met expectations. The third area is readability, which is (in part) comfort of reading, and has this specific characteristic: the use of headings. Methodology: We conducted a quantitative study using a survey distributed though SurveyMonkey Audience, a service that samples from a pool of 30 million respondents. Using control and experimental versions of 11 product reviews, we gauged participants' perceptions of review quality on a five-point scale. We looked for significant differences in participants' perceptions of quality using Pearson's chi square. Results and conclusions: We re- eived 829 responses to include in the analysis. We found the following significant at the p > 0.05 level: a statement about reviewer's prior experience with a similar product (credibility). We found the following significant at the p > 0.01 level: A statement about researching the product, for example, online research (credibility), a general recommendation about the product (informativeness), and formatting with headings (readability). We found the following significant at the p > 0.001 level: a statement about the extent to which the product met expectations (informativeness) and a specific recommendation about the product (informativeness). Using these results, companies can better locate quality reviews; reviewers can increase the quality and, therefore, salience of their reviews; and communication specialists can help reviewers write and revise reviews for improved quality. Future research on review quality could investigate other potential characteristics of credibility, informativeness, and readability. View full abstract»

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  • 37. Teaching Case Using a Research in Technical and Scientific Communication Class to Teach Essential Workplace Skills

    Page(s): 363 - 377
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    Teaching problem: Undergraduate research at the university level often focuses on the production of a traditional research paper, one with an academic orientation, often information heavy and analysis light, emphasizing the importance of secondary sources and documentation style over the process of inquiry. What approaches to undergraduate research would enable aspiring technical communicators to develop research skills that would better prepare them for success in a professional environment? Situating the case: The approaches described in this paper draw on the work of Mel Levine as presented in , in which he delineates several reasons why young people encounter problems when they enter professional environments: overly managed lives, no experience of delayed gratification, inability to think critically, limited knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses, and an expectation of stability in the so-called adult world. Levine claims that these problems can be addressed by helping students develop a sense of inner direction as opposed to direction from without, an understanding of how to think critically and apply knowledge, a willingness to build and refine skills over time, and competent writing and speaking skills. In addition, the approaches described in this paper draw on three well-established research traditions: mixed methods research, problem-based research, and action research. How this case was studied: This paper describes the experiences of using two approaches to teach Research in Technical and Scientific Communication at a mid-sized state university in Virginia. The material was collected informally over a period of six years of teaching the course-through observation, student feedback, and completed research reports. About the case: Research in Technical and Scientific Communication required students to produce a research report within the context of real-world inquiry, appropriately focused for a specific audience and purpose, using both primary - nd secondary sources, and including analysis as well as information. Two approaches were used. The Real Client approach required students to investigate a small-scale, real-world problem or need, which became the focus of a research report that could be submitted to a specific audience for a specific purpose, both identified by the student early in the research process. The Impact of Technology approach required students to consider the impact of technology on modern life, investigate a narrower topic within this broad topic, and prepare a report that could be published in the university magazine or student newspaper. Examples of strong and weak research reports illustrate which features of each approach worked well and which posed challenges. Overall, students responded well to both approaches, but found the Impact of Technology approach more congenial because it was more familiar to them than the Real Client approach. Nonetheless, with both approaches, but especially with the Real Client approach, students seemed reluctant to make necessary contacts, conduct in-depth interviews, and include well-developed analysis. They were more comfortable gathering information anonymously through secondary source material or online surveys, and presenting that information with a limited amount of analysis. Both approaches served to move students toward a more realistic understanding of the kind of research needed in professional environments. Conclusions: These approaches also addressed the concerns raised by Levine. The study was limited by its informal nature, with observations and conclusions resulting from a six-year period of informal experimentation and refinement, during which the requirements for the research report were continually redesigned to better address what students would need to be successful in a workplace. View full abstract»

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  • 38. The communication characteristics of virtual teams: a case study

    Page(s): 174 - 186
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (72 KB)  

    Organizations are encountering novel external environments requiring flexible structures. A number of organizations have used virtual teams to provide the customer responsiveness, human resource flexibility, and speed in project completion these environments demand. Virtual teams create significant communication challenges for its leaders and members. This research analyzed the communication technologies that the Customer Support Virtual Team (CST) of International Consulting Systems (ICS), the pseudonym for a Fortune 500 organization, uses to support team interaction, the degree to which ICS systems and culture supported CST, and finally, the CST members' mindset toward communication and the methods its leader used to create the trust required for effective team interaction. Interviews revealed that ICS mission, strategy, tasks, reward systems, and attitudes toward technology supported virtual team structure. CST members were provided a suite of robust technologies to facilitate interaction; however, they relied heavily on voice mail and a large number of team, project, and organizational databases supported by Lotus Notes to generate a common language that facilitated task completion View full abstract»

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  • 39. Making the Pitch: Examining Dialogue and Revisions in Entrepreneurs' Pitch Decks

    Page(s): 158 - 181
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1412 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: The question: How Korean entrepreneurs in an entrepreneurship program revised their slide decks for their presentations (“pitches”) in response to professional communication genres representing feedback from potential stakeholders in their target markets is examined. Research questions: As entrepreneurs learn to pitch ideas to unfamiliar markets, how do they revise their slide decks for their pitches when interacting with other professional communication genres that represent the concerns of market stakeholders? Specifically, what changes do entrepreneurs make to the claims, evidence, and complexity of arguments in their pitches? Literature review: The professional communication literature demonstrates that the revision process tends to take place in documentation cycles where documents are set in interaction with each other. Yet such revision processes are not studied in detail in existing studies of entrepreneurial pitches in marketing and technology commercialization. Methodology: In this exploratory qualitative study, researchers textually analyzed 14 sets of five related document genres in the archives of an entrepreneurship program. These genres represented a full cycle of activity: application to the program, initial pitches, initial feedback from program personnel, detailed feedback from representative stakeholders in the target market, and revised pitches. Interviews and surveys of program personnel further contextualize the data. Results and conclusions: Entrepreneurs revised their claims and evidence based on their dialogue with their target market. Some of the entrepreneurs altered their slides to make more complex arguments rebutting stakeholders' concerns. These findings suggest that entrepreneurs engage in dialogue with their target markets, but their engagement tends to be guided by tacit, situated experience rather than through an explicit, systematized approach. View full abstract»

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  • 40. Research Article The Role of Leadership and Contextualization on Citizenship Behaviors in Distributed Teams: A Relational Capital Perspective

    Page(s): 310 - 324
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    Research problem: This study provides insights into the role that a leader plays in improving relational capital, thereby motivating team members' citizenship behaviors in distributed teams. We address the following research questions: (1) What is the role of inspirational leadership in cultivating relational capital (i.e., reciprocity and commitment) in distributed teams? (2) Are team members' citizenship behaviors (i.e., knowledge sharing and interpersonal helping) influenced by relational capital in distributed teams? (3) How does technology support for cognitive and affective contextualization facilitate leaders to improve organizational communication? Literature review: The purpose of the review was to provide a theoretical background for the variables in this study. Based on the relevant theories on relational capital, leadership, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and contextualization, this study reviewed how previous studies link these theories to one other, and proposed the positive relationship between leadership, relational capital and OCBs, as well as the moderating relationships of technology support for contextualization. Methodology: The researchers conducted a quantitative survey with 141 respondents in a major university in Asia. The subjects were part-time graduate students pursuing their master's degree. Researchers administrated a paper-based questionnaire along with a cover letter explaining the study's objectives. Responses indicating teams that were situated in only one location and their role as team leaders were removed from the analyses. Participation was completely voluntary. The researchers chose partial least squares to test the hypotheses since it has fewer restrictive assumptions and its ability for analyzing measurement and structural models. Results and discussion: This study highlights the importance of inspirational leaders in cultivating two kinds of relational capital, namely commitment and reciprocity. This study al- o explores the differential values of contextual information from the cognitive and affective dimensions. A key result is that the effect of inspirational leadership on reciprocity is strengthened when there is technology support for cognitive contextualization. At the same time, technology support for affective contextualization has a direct impact on commitment. These findings provide empirical support for affective and cognitive contextualization in distributed organizational communication, and suggest a way for distinguishing between reciprocity and commitment. This study concludes by illustrating the positive effects of commitment on citizenship behaviors, such as knowledge sharing and interpersonal helping. The implication of this study is that when teams are physically dispersed, there should be more emphasis on leadership with inspirational attributes to get their team members to perform beyond standard requirements. In addition, this study provides leaders and organizations with an opportunity to reflect on the appropriate technology that can be adopted to compensate for insufficient communication. The limitation of this study is that each respondent represents his/her working team. As a result, it may introduce bias to the findings. In addition, self-reported measures may also cause common method bias. Future research could consider the addition of objective measures and longitudinal work to reduce the possibility of common method bias, and investigate how work behaviors change over time. View full abstract»

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  • 41. The Effects of Different Parts of the Annual Report on Potential Investors' Attitudes Towards the Company and on the Corporate Reputation

    Page(s): 78 - 97
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    Research problem: Both the function and the appearance of annual reports have changed over the last few decades. These multimodal reports now include many types of information that serve different functions. In this study, the effects of several information types on stakeholders' attitudes toward annual reports and the companies that published them are measured. Literature review: Not much is known about how stakeholders read annual reports. The literature is not conclusive on the relative importance of several information types in these reports. Most studies investigate the impact of part of the information in annual reports and ignore the combined impact of the information types. Whether the potential investors are more affected by the financial review, the future strategy narrative or by pictures, such as a picture of the CEO, is unknown. Methodology: An experiment (2 × 2 × 2 between subjects design) was conducted to test the effects of a good financial review versus a poor one, a good future strategy versus a poor one and a picture of the CEO smiling versus that with a serious facial expression. The effects on potential stakeholders' attitudes toward the information, on their attitudes toward investing in the company, and on their perceptions of the corporate reputation are measured. Results and conclusion: The results show significant effects of all three information types. A good financial review, a good future strategy, and a serious facial expression have beneficial effects on the potential stakeholders' attitudes and on the corporate reputation. More important, however, the results show that the information types should be aligned with each other. A smiling facial expression, for example, is only beneficial if the content of the other information types is good. View full abstract»

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  • 42. Internet-based research: providing a foundation for web-design guidelines

    Page(s): 242 - 260
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    In this article, we propose that remote, internet-based studies of real users interacting with real websites on their own computers at a time and place convenient for them will provide a solid empirical base from which researchers can extrapolate reliable and valid web-design guidelines. After a discussion of research methods that have been used to support the principles that underlie web-design guidelines, we review some of the methodological issues associated with internet-based research and tools for supporting such work. Given advances in technology, the multitude of users online, and emerging technologies with new interfaces, the time has come for technical communication researchers to enter the arena of internet-based research and conduct remote experiments to support the web-design guidelines that they espouse. View full abstract»

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  • 43. Research Article Structure of Research Article Introductions in Three Engineering Subdisciplines

    Page(s): 294 - 309
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    This study aims to provide scholars with insight into the task of writing research articles. Research questions: (1) What are the generic structures of research article introductions in three engineering subdisciplines? and (2) What are variations that distinguish the introductions of one subdiscipline from the others? Literature review: Swales's genre analysis method has proved to be an effective textual analysis to identify the structural organization of each section of research articles. Even though there seems to be a pattern in each section, previous genre-based studies also demonstrate that disciplinary variation is discernible. It thus remains to be determined whether research articles of different subdisciplines within a single discipline share the same organizational structure. Methodology: Based on journal impact factors, three datasets of English research article introductions representing three subdisciplines of engineering (civil, software, and biomedical) were compiled, consisting of 180 introductions with 60 from each subdiscipline. Then, the three datasets were analyzed using Swales's genre analysis technique to identify the structural patterns prevalent in the introductions of each subdiscipline. Units of textual analysis called moves and steps were quantified to capture variations among the introductions. Results and discussion: Analysis shows that these introductions generally adhere to a common rhetorical organization across subdisciplines. However, disciplinary variations are also captured, highlighting the unique characteristics and perspectives of each subdiscipline. The findings bear pedagogical implications, allowing English for Specific Purposes practitioners to prepare novice scholars to be able to publish successfully in their fields. View full abstract»

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  • 44. Evaluation of User Support: Factors That Affect User Satisfaction With Helpdesks and Helplines

    Page(s): 219 - 231
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    In addition to technical documentation, face-to-face helpdesks and telephonic helplines are a powerful means for supporting users of technical products and services. This study investigates the factors that determine user satisfaction with helpdesks and helplines. A survey, based on the SERVQUAL framework and questionnaire, shows that the SERVQUAL dimensions of customer satisfaction are not applicable in these contexts. Three quality dimensions were found instead: solution quality, the experience of the consultation, and, in the case of a physical environment, the so-called tangibles. Helpdesk customers base their overall quality perceptions mainly on their experiences during a consultation, while helpline customers focus strongly on the quality of the solution offered. The study also found a connection between the perceived helpline quality and the appreciation of the primary service. View full abstract»

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  • 45. Exploring the Relationship Between Communication Risk Perception and Communication Portfolio

    Page(s): 130 - 146
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    With the rapid development of information communication technologies (ICT) over the past decade, the nature of how organization members communicate has changed, becoming far more complex and challenging. Communication risks brought about by technology-mediated communication can sometimes be detrimental to the overall organizational function and success. We classify these communication risks into three types: reception, understanding, and action risks. We propose the notion of communication portfolio which refers to a single ICT or a specific combination of lCTs that can be used to manage any perceived risk of communication. Specifically, this study aims to examine the relationship between perceived risks (i.e., risk of reception, risk of understanding, and risk of action) in the communication process and the dimensions (i.e., content, and structuring mechanism) of the communication portfolio used for communication. We also identify communication risk factors that may accentuate the different types of risks. We develop a communication risk perception framework to illustrate the relationship between the communication risk factors, the different types of communication risks, and the communication portfolio. Finally, we illustrate how the communication risk perception framework can be applied in a real-life natural setting by using the shuttle Challenger incident, as an example. View full abstract»

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  • 46. Thinking aloud: reconciling theory and practice

    Page(s): 261 - 278
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    Thinking-aloud protocols may be the most widely used method in usability testing, but the descriptions of this practice in the usability literature and the work habits of practitioners do not conform to the theoretical basis most often cited for it: K.A. Ericsson and H.A. Simon's (1984) seminal work. After reviewing Ericsson and Simon's theoretical basis for thinking aloud, we review the ways in which actual usability practice diverges from this model. We then explore the concept of speech genre as an alternative theoretical framework. We first consider uses of this new framework that are consistent with Ericsson and Simon's goal of eliciting a verbal report that is as undirected, undisturbed and constant as possible. We then go on to consider how the proposed new approach might handle problems that arise in usability testing that appear to require interventions not supported in the older model View full abstract»

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  • 47. Assessing Concurrent Think-Aloud Protocol as a Usability Test Method: A Technical Communication Approach

    Page(s): 202 - 215
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (438 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Concurrent think-aloud protocol (CTA) is often used in usability test settings to gain insight into participants' thoughts during their task performances. This study adds to a growing body of research within technical communication that addresses the use of think-aloud protocols in usability test settings. The eye movements and verbalizations of 10 participants were recorded as they searched for information on a website. The analysis of transcripts and real-time eye movement showed that CTA is an accurate data-collection method. The researcher found that the majority of user verbalizations in the study included words, phrases, and sentences that users read from the screen. Silence and verbal fillers that occurred during CTA enabled users to assess and process information during their searches. This study demonstrates the value technical communicators add to the study of usability test methods, and the paper recommends future avenues of research. View full abstract»

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  • 48. The Role of National Culture and Multimedia on First Impression Bias Reduction: An Experimental Study in US and China

    Page(s): 354 - 371
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (602 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: The purpose of the study was to explore the effects of national culture and medium type on first impression bias reduction in the context of job interview and performance appraisals. Research questions: (1) Does the evaluators' national culture affect first impression bias reduction? (2) Which medium type (text or multimedia) is more effective in reducing first impression bias? and (3) Does medium effect in reducing first impression bias vary with national culture? Literature review: The purpose of the literature review is to examine the current literature in the areas of national culture, medium type and first impression bias reduction, especially in a communication context. Researchers reviewed the discussions on first impression formation, and national culture theories, and the Media Richness Theory. For media, multimedia type was found to reduce first impression bias more than text medium type. For national culture, the literature review suggested that national culture dimensions (such as collectivism, assertiveness, and uncertainty avoidance) could possibly affect first impression bias reduction. Methodology: The researchers conducted a quantitative experiment with 407 students from a US university and a Chinese university, who majored in business-related disciplines. Researchers requested the treatment group participants to access performance bias cue. The participants then performed an initial appraisal of a manager based on Denison's leadership index. The participants then viewed the job interview of the manager, via different media, and performed the appraisal again. The performance appraisal data were collected via a website. The researchers used Analysis of Variance to analyze the data. Results and discussion: This study found that for our participants, national culture reduces first impression bias more than media. It identified that first impression bias reduction in US participants is significantly greater than that in Chinese part- cipants, independent of media used. Regardless of national culture of media users, this study found that users using text medium were able to reduce first impression bias significantly more than users using multimedia. The implications of this study are that to reduce first impression bias in cross-cultural settings, managers and employees must adapt the channels and effort allocation for communication to national culture. Managers and researchers must understand that national culture is more important than media in reducing first impression bias. The limitations of the study were the use of student participants, and absence of national culture dimensions measurement. The study was conducted in only two national cultures. Future research could use employees as participants, measure national culture dimensions, and replicate the study in various national cultures. View full abstract»

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  • 49. The Structure of PowerPoint Presentations: The Art of Grasping Things Whole

    Page(s): 121 - 137
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    We examine PowerPoint from the point of view of Jean-luc Doumont's design guidelines: those for individual slides and those for whole presentations. By analyzing two presentations on the same topic, designed for two very different audiences, we show that it follows from these guidelines that in all cases, full comprehension requires clearly articulated overall organization that integrates the verbal and the visual into a single message. This means that the crucial unit of analysis is not the individual slide, but the extent to which the individual slide is integrated into the presentation as a whole. The principle by which this integration is achieved changes as the audience does: general audience presentations are best organized by means of narrative, while professional audience presentations are best organized by means of argument. In all cases, audience adaptation is the master variable, determining what counts as the optimal integration of the verbal and the visual into a single message. View full abstract»

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  • 50. Using Microformats: Gateway to the Semantic Web

    Page(s): 291 - 302
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    This tutorial explains and describes the use of several microformats, which make information marked up in HTML available for use in applications outside traditional Web browsers. Because microformats consist of minor additions to the HTML backbone of common Web pages, they represent a simple but significant move toward what Tim Berners-Lee has called the ldquosemantic Webrdquo-but without requiring the technical and practical shifts and time demands of a complete XML-based semantic-Web-development approach. Microformats also provide technical communicators with literacies and a conceptual foundation to approach more advanced semantic Web technologies and suggest ways to refine current Web design practice. View full abstract»

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Aims & Scope

The IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to applied research on professional communication--including but not limited to technical and business communication. It has been published since 1957 by the Professional Communication Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Full Aims & Scope

Meet Our Editors

Saul Carliner
Concordia University