Scientific and Technical Communication (STC) Plan C Research Papers

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    Approaches to Data Visualization in Technical Communication Research: A Systematic Literature Review
    (2023-05-03) Hofer-Pottala, Shannon
    This paper is a systematic literature review that examines approaches to data visualization suggested in technical communication research. The review is composed of 23 peer-reviewed research articles published between 2018–2022 in the journals IEEE, JBTC, TC, and TCQ that are used to identify the best practices for designing understandable, effective, and efficient visuals. The research findings suggest that the best approaches to data visualizations in technical communication are clear and ethical data and designs, consideration of graph type and components, a focus on accessibility and interactivity, and the use of aesthetic design, as well as tools like Gantt charts, GIMP, Privacy Rating, and WAVE. The paper concludes with a list of 5 recommendations for technical communicators to create effective and engaging data visualizations.
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    Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: What outcomes matter most to patients and their parents?
    (2023) Reardon, Michaela
    Successful bracing treatment for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) has been described as slowing curve progression, preventing the need for future surgery, and reducing the likelihood of the long-term effects of untreated scoliosis. While these outcomes are meaningful to providers and researchers, it is not yet clear how patients and parents think of success in scoliosis brace treatment. This research sought to identify what bracing outcomes matter most to adolescents with AIS and their parents.
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    Web Accessibility Compliance on GoodRx: Usability and Accessibility Considerations for the Older Adult Population
    (2023) Naegele, Rachel
    This case study looks into web accessibility compliance on the telehealth platform GoodRx and how that compliance affects the older adult user population. The evaluation of the website was conducted first by initial web browser accessibility testing extensions to detect initial compliance issues and point to issues found in the coding of the site. Secondly, a manual assessment of the website was performed to confirm any initial findings from the browser extensions and to determine if those findings were in fact problematic for the target user population. The use of both automated and manual evaluations was done to provide a more comprehensive analysis of the website. An analysis of user reviews found on the Better Business Bureau website was used as a reference in determining perceived user satisfaction in regard to the usability and accessibility of the website.
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    A Framework for Leveraging Subject-Matter Expertise in B2B Content Marketing
    (2023-05) Rose, Shane
    This research explores how organizations can leverage technical expertise within their content marketing to enhance the customer journey in business-to-business (B2B) markets. The research examines two existing buyer journey frameworks that extend beyond the point of decision and purchase and analyze their potential application in the integration of technical expertise in content marketing. Additionally, there is review of current research on the most effective methods for incorporating technical expertise into marketing content, which is currently siloed and limited. In response to these findings, the paper proposes a preliminary framework for integrating technical expertise within content marketing across a B2B buyer journey. This framework maps technical expertise across the content creation process. By developing and implementing this framework, organizations can better leverage the value of their subject-matter experts, improve customer engagement and satisfaction, and ultimately drive business growth in the B2B marketplace. The research concludes by addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with adopting the proposed framework, offers recommendations for organizations operating in B2B markets, and suggests future research directions to further refine and enhance the integration of technical expertise in content marketing.
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    Approaches to Data Visualization in Technical Communication Research: A Systematic Literature Review
    (2023-05-05) Hofer-Pottala, Shannon
    This paper is a systematic literature review that examines approaches to data visualization suggested in technical communication research. The review is composed of 23 peer-reviewed research articles published between 2018–2022 in the journals IEEE, JBTC, TC, and TCQ that are used to identify the best practices for designing understandable, effective, and efficient visuals. The research findings suggest that the best approaches to data visualizations in technical communication are clear and ethical data and designs, consideration of graph type and components, a focus on accessibility and interactivity, and the use of aesthetic design, as well as tools like Gantt charts, GIMP, Privacy Rating, and WAVE. The paper concludes with a list of 5 recommendations for technical communicators to create effective and engaging data visualizations.
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    ICD-11: Its Evolution and its Potential Impact on Healthcare Providers and Analysts
    (2022) Stromback, Cara, C
    This study is divided into two parts. The first part examines the evolution of recording mortality and morbidity data to the most recent revision of the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The second part analyzes ICD-11’s potential impact on healthcare providers and healthcare analysts. Each part includes its own methods and results section. The study concludes with implications and discussion points resulting from this two part study.
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    COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Pregnant Women
    (2022) Khan, Farrah
    As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in our world, it is important to ensure immunity from the virus through rigorous and consistent vaccination among all populations. Pregnant women are a vulnerable population that so far have fallen behind in getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Public health agencies and government officials, as well as medical organizations, have attempted to address their vaccination hesitancy with limited success. For their safety, it is crucial to understand the underlying reasons why pregnant women are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and strategize how to effectively communicate the vaccine’s safety and efficacy with this group. Through a systematic literature review, I analyzed 11 research papers that studied responses from pregnant populations regarding their vaccine hesitancy, and found a multitude of underlying factors influencing their decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Fear of adverse effects to the unborn child and mother due to insufficient research data, the trimester of the mother, and mistrust in information provided by the government or public health agencies were major contributing factors to not receiving the vaccine. I recommended including pregnant women in future clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine as a solution to boosting confidence in the vaccine in pregnant women, and to include more communication professionals in government, public health, medical organizations, and social media efforts, as they are the leading experts in communicating information based on their audience. As pregnant women are a widely varied population, especially from country to country, localized and targeted information campaigns especially with the aid of social media was encouraged.
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    Writing for Global Audiences: Insights into the Technical Translation Process within the Medical Device Industry
    (2021) Fundingsland, Stella
    As technological advancements and globalization practices grow, products and information are shared with diverse audiences across the globe. Translation allows companies to reach these audiences, and while technical writers do not translate text themselves, they are a fundamental stakeholder within the technical translation process and can impact the audience’s use of the text. As technical writers analyze their audience for targeted communication, it is important that they consider their global audiences and develop accurate and appropriate content for translation. Within this study, I analyze the technical translation process within the medical device industry because of its technical nature and role in developing new medical technologies that reach audiences across the globe. In this report, I examine some of the current literature on technical translation and pair that with interviews of practitioners working within the medical device industry. A qualitative analysis of the interviews revealed four overarching themes that are intertwined in the technical translation process: cross-functional teams, tools and technologies, global rhetoric and style, and regulatory oversight. Writing for global audiences improves the usability and readability of content by making the text more consistent, clear, and unambiguous. Technical writers can take several steps to improve their writing for translation including developing a consistent content creation process, understanding the cultural and language conventions of their diverse audiences, and writing with a global perspective.
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    Managing Technical Content: Investigating the Value and Impact of a Content Management System (CMS)
    (2021) De la Victoria, Miranda
    As the field of technical communication evolves and expands into various industries, the content and how it is created and managed evolves, too. The maintenance of content, specifically technical content in this case, is where content management systems (CMS) come into play. Companies often decide what kind of CMS they want to implement based on their needs. Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is the CMS implemented by a global company. In this report, I analyzed some of the existing literature on CMS implementation and then interviewed four practitioners at the global company, who have some experience in the technical content industry, though not all identify as a technical communicator, and have been exposed to a content management system. My analysis shows that there are many reasons to implement a CMS, including reuse, translation, version control, and automation of document publishing, to name a few. Technical communicators are often introduced to CMS through their own research for content solutions or by another who is conducting that research. Through communication, collaboration, and involvement, others may be convinced of a CMS’s value. While there are many challenges with implementation, it is a matter of how they are handled that will determine whether or not an implementation is successful.
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    The Role of Technical Communicators in Open-Source Software: A Systematic Review
    (2021) Hull, Mary Frances
    To survive, Free/Open-Source Software (FOSS) projects need to attract and retain new contributors. Research has studied the many barriers that newcomers face when trying to contribute to FOSS projects. These barriers can cause newcomers to give up on contributing to FOSS projects. Many of the hurdles that newcomers face can be reduced or eliminated by skills that technical writers possess. In this paper, I aim to 1) present the results of a systematic literature review to identify the barriers that newcomers face, 2) identify roles that technical writers can take to help alleviate those barriers, and 3) identify ways that contributing to FOSS as part of the technical communication curriculum would be beneficial to students.
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    For the Love of Technology: How Aesthetics Define Emotions in a Digital Education Setting
    (2021) Brower, Autumn
    Educators often admit that they are aware that emotion plays a significant role in students’ educational success, yet most of the scientific literature measures cognition in education to the exclusion of emotion. This study is intended to be a proof of concept design for future research. Its goal is to assess how an individual’s aesthetic value of a product might be a way to gauge emotion in educational settings. Three faculty members at the University of Minnesota were interviewed about their viewpoints pertaining to the product design of a static Canvas page and asked to evaluate its design based on its visceral, behavioral, and reflective beauty. Page orientation and font were used to represent product design. Results of the interviews showed that readability was the most frequently mentioned reason people are drawn to certain aesthetic features of a product’s design in digital education, followed by alignment, accessibility, mobile devices, tradition, and font personalities. Additionally, this paper evaluates the participants’ valence response; their responses to the design’s functionality; and their thoughts on meaningfulness as they relate to Norman’s (2007) three aesthetic levels of product design. At the end of the paper, suggestions for how we might use this data to increase productivity in our classes and enhance educational technology are addressed. Future directions for how these results might apply to cognition, emotion, and computation are also discussed.
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    The Trajectory of Zoom: Analyzing the Development of Video Conferencing Software and Accessibility in an Age of Remote Work
    (2021) Burgan, Parkker
    Video conferencing software is a medium and resource that we have become accustomed to in order to connect with loved ones, complete our work duties, and stay entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those living with disabilities often have a different relationship with video conferencing software and are too often left out of the conversation when it relates to modern technologies. Through analyzing accessibility guidelines, charting the current standards of videoconferencing accessibility, and highlighting concerns from those with disabilities, I lay out the reasons why the conversation surrounding remote work and accessibility needs further progression.
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    What is the Role of Social Media In Communicating Public Health Information?
    (2021) Ryan, Kristine
    Public health professionals recognize the importance of public health communication and view it as a vital component of healthcare worldwide. The growth of social media as a communication channel of public health information is a force to be reckoned with. The goal of this research has been to explore social media as a component of public health communication and to learn how professional health communicators view the role of social media. This research was accomplished through a qualitative approach that included interviews of practicing public health communicators on how they interact with and capitalize on using social media in their current roles and past experience. Key insights generated include the advantages, challenges, strategies, and general observations related to social media within the public health community.
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    The Heart of the Matter: An Analysis of Instruction Manual Design and Customer Satisfaction
    (2021-04) Anders, Rorie J
    Most products come equipped with an instruction manual that provides details on how to assemble, use, or troubleshoot a new product. However, there is a noted lack of interest and optimism in using instruction manuals because customers have developed negative preconceptions based upon previous poor experiences. Therefore, the aim of this study is to analyze the impact of the design and format of an instruction manual, such as the use of static or interactive design elements, on customer satisfaction and the usability of an instruction manual. This research was accomplished using remote and in-person usability testing of a non-interactive and interactive instruction manual to complete the task of creating an origami heart. Data was collected through observation and the think-aloud protocol during testing, as well as pre- and post-test questionnaires, and a semi-structured interview. This study indicates that the interactive instruction manual displayed higher levels of satisfaction and that participants exhibited a greater preference for visual instructions, such as the use of illustrations or animations, compared to written instructions.
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    Creating a Culture of Innovation: How Businesses Used the COVID-19 Pandemic to Change the Future Workplace
    (2021) Pieper, Nicole
    The purpose of this paper is to explore how companies used creativity to adapt to the remote work environment, due to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown. The information in this paper can help technical communicators understand how audiences have changed the way they are consuming information, learn how creativity is essential in the field of technical communication, and recognize how the pandemic has shaped the future workplace – all of which will help technical communicators in connecting with audiences and performing their jobs more effectively and efficiently. This paper examines literature on the pandemic’s influence on the workplace, the creativity and innovation process, how businesses innovated to meet the needs of their customers, personal interviews with employees across a variety of industries on their experience with the changing work environment, and finally how these innovations will impact the workplace of the future. My analysis shows that companies got creative in the way they communicate with employees and clients, which unexpectedly strengthened relationships. Employees struggled with the new remote work environment, so companies made it a priority to help employees find a new balance and create virtual socialization opportunities, in order to avoid employee burn out. My analysis concludes with the argument that companies being forced to work differently during the pandemic has forever changed the future workplace. The virtual environment has changed the mindset of businesses in the way they operate with employees and their clients, spurring creativity and the start of a more innovative culture. It is important now more than ever for technical communicators to understand their audiences, to learn how to adapt to a virtual work environment, and to prepare for the future.
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    Writing Studies Graduate Research Showcase 2020
    (2020-05) Arnquist, Marissa; Blissenbach, Rachel; Fuglsby, Brandi; Jarrett, James; Krstic, Danijela; Le Lay, Brian; Snow, Heather; Wold, Ryan; Yoong, Christina
    Poster presentations from the Writing Studies department graduate research showcase. The projects were completed in conjunction with WRIT 8505 and the showcase was held digitally due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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    Understanding User Experience: An Essential Component within Academic Support Resources at the University of Minnesota
    (2020) Yoong, Christina
    User experience (UX) has become increasingly important for organizations due to the growing need to design and maintain digital products for different audiences. This study focuses on user experience perspectives within Academic Support Resources (ASR), a service department that supports students, faculty, and staff at the University of Minnesota. Objectives for this study were to investigate user experience perspectives and practices within ASR, explore where UX fits within ASR’s human experience design ecosystem, and provide recommendations for improving UX maturity within the department. A survey was sent to all ASR staff members and several follow-up interviews were conducted with business analysts in ASR-IT. Major findings include that UX is very important to ASR's mission to make a positive difference in students' lives, and everyone in ASR is responsible for UX at some level. A number of recommendations are provided to increase UX maturity within ASR, including to build, document, and share UX knowledge and have leadership prioritize UX in ASR's work and processes. In the end, UX is an essential component of ASR and the department's human experience design ecosystem.
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    A Guidebook for Technical Communicators in Agile Scrum Environments
    (2020) Krstic, Danijela
    Research problem: The lack of understanding and industry consensus on the role of technical communicators in the agile scrum environment. In this study, I completed a literature review of the agile scrum framework and a technical writer’s current challenges working within it. I conducted interviews with 10 employees at Sovos, a computer software company, and coded their responses to determine how technical writers currently work within agile scrum, what is working well, and what isn’t. I used the findings of this study to develop a guidebook for technical communicators working in agile scrum environments. It can be found in the Appendix of this paper.
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    Essential Strategies, Methods, Knowledge, and Resources for Professional Development for Technical Communicators
    (2020) Jarrett, James M.
    Professional development is a challenge for practitioners of all levels no matter the discipline, and professional development within technical communication presents a formidable challenge which has been understudied. The goal of this research has been to explore how technical communicators may accomplish professional development when entering an unfamiliar field or industry and to provide them with a framework with which to approach professional development. This research was accomplished through a qualitative mixed-method approach which combined autoethnography of my own experience entering a new technical communication niche with interviews of practicing technical communicators on what they consider to be essential strategies, methods, knowledge, and resources for professional development in their current role and past experience. Key insights generated include recommendations on how to accomplish professional development by focusing efforts in six key categories to quickly orient oneself in a discipline and to improve the continuous professional development process.