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T W&C Vol. 40 • No. 1 • 2010

Journal of Technical Writing & Communication Communicating with the elders

Journal of Technical Writing & Communication Volum 42, Number 1, 2012

Editor Charles H. Sides

Journal of Technical Writing & Communication Editor

Charles H. Sides, Chair, Department of Communcation, Fitchburg State College, Massachusettes

Book review editor Elizabeth Tebeaux, Texas A & M University

Executive board

Paul V. Anderson, Master’s degree Program in Technical and scientific Communication, Miami University, Ohio David N. Dobrin, B2B Analysis, Cambrigde, Massachusetts Carel J. M. Jansen, Department of Business Communication, Nijmegen University, The Netherlands Frederick T. Kiley, Director, National Defense, University Press, Washington, D.C Bernard J. McKenna, University of Queensland, Ipswich Frederick C. Mish, Editorial Director, Merriam ttWebster, Incorporated Thomas E. Pearsall, Chair, Emeritus, Department of rhetoric University of Minnesota Janice C. Redish, President Redish & Associates, Bethesda, Maryland Stuart Selber, Department of English, Pennsylvania State University

Editorial board

Brenton Faber, Clarkson University Paul M. Domrowski, Department of English University of Central Florida Russel Hirst, University of Tennessee Elisabeth Pass,Institute of Technical and Scientific Communication James Madison University Kirk St.Amant, East Carolina University Jan H. Spyridakis, Human Centered Design & Engineering University of Washington, Seattle Glen Thomas, Queensland University of Technology Australia Dorota Zielinska, Department of Linguistics Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

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Contents EDITORIAL From the editor’s desk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Charles H. Sides ARTICLES Sonographers’ comples communication during the obsetric sonogram exam: an interview study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lee Brasseur



Accommodating scientific illiteracy: award-winning visualizations on the covers of science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Maria E. Gigante Hypertext theory: rethinking and reformulating what we know, web 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Craig Baehr and Susan M. Lang A bibliography of works published in the history of professional communication from 1994-2009: Part 2 . . . . . . . . . 57 Michael G. Moran and Elizabeth Tebeaux BOOK REVIEWS From black codes to recofication: removing the veil from regulatory writing, by Miriam F. Williams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Reviewed by John Casey Gooch Performing prose: the study and practice of style in composition, by Chris Holcomb and M. Jimmie Killingsworth . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Reviewed by Nancy Small Envisioning collaboration: group verbal-visual composing in a system of creativity, by Geoffrey A. Cross . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 Reviewed by Joel A. Kline Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126


From the Editors desk


Vol. 42, No. 1, 2012

During the course of a single, increasingly lengthy career, I have witnessed institutions of higher learning evolve from a focus on “learning for learning’s sake” to a focus on careerist-centered learning in terms of how it prepares students to do sometzhing practical for which they can be paid upon graduation.The causes are often attributed to everything from the cost of a college education to the economy to the changes in 21st century industries and their expectations of college-educated employees. Whatever the reason, college educations have become more practical over the last 40 years. This is not an editorial to debate the comparative worth of these two educational foci, but rather some observations on how the practical recently intruded upon my own perceptions of what we are about in academia. Virtually all colleges and universities are concerned about safety for students and employees. Crime statistics are published as a part of recruitment efforts; seminars are held during orientation weeks to inculcate in students an awareness of how to be safe on a university campus regardless of its location in urban or rural environments. And regrettably, shocking tragedies have become too common in our academies. This is a story about tragedy averted. I  direct our department’s extensive internship program. Recently, as is often the case, I was contacted by a person seeking to obtain an intern for the company he represented. I told him to send me an internship description that s­ pecifies the duties required, the time commitment, and the knowledge/experience necessary for an intern to succeed in the experience. He did so.

Journal of Technical Writing & Communication

Charles H. Sides, Executive Editor


Upon reviewing the description, it was clear that it would not satisfy our requirements for an internship to be a full time, semesterlong experience; but it might be useful for something we call “field studies” – part time experiential learning opportunities that we encourage students in their first three years to take advantage of. I followed normal protocol for when I receive one of these and forwarded it to the department faculty who teach in the disciplinary area sought. They also followed normal protocol and placed the description complete with contact information on a bullet in board in the department where notification of these opportunities are typically placed. A freshman student saw it, thought it looked interesting and potentially applicable to her career goals. She copied down the contact information, called the man listed, spoke with him, and on the basis of that conversation, scheduled an interview at a restaurant near his place of business. During the interview, she became increasingly suspicious of whether or not this was a valid opportunity or even a valid organization. Immediately afterward, she googled the person’s name and learned of a lengthy and serious police record. She reported all of this back to our department, and as a result, we now find ourselves developing a policy for vetting such offers. My guess is that our department is not unique in how we previously dealt with such inquiries, nor is it unique in now seeking methods to enhance security in our internships. As editor of this journal, it is my hope that the experience described here might stimulate further exploration of the issue, future research, and eventual publication regarding best practices for internships.


Sonographers’ complex communication during the obstetric Sonogram exam:​An interview study Lee Brasseur, Illinois State University, Normal

Obstetric sonographers are in a particularly complex situation when it comes to communicating information about sonograms. Unlike other diagnostic andradiological medical professionals, obstetric sonographers are expected to reveal information about what is on the sonogram screen to patients during the exam. This includes such information as the gestational age and gender of the fetus and descriptions of the fetal and maternal anatomy. Although obstetric sonography, when it first was practiced, did not include this “showing” of the images on the screen, the fact that it currently does is largely the result of pregnant women’s expressed desire to more immediately know the health and welfare of their baby during the exam. While it is the physician

Vol. 42, No. 1, 2012



Keywords: Sonography, Obstetric, Exam, Fetus, Patient communication

Abstract: A study of the oral communication experiences and training of obste­ tric sonographers can provide insight into the complex expectations these medical professionals face as they complete their technical tasks and communicate with patients. Unlike other diagnostic medical professionals, obstetric sonographers are expected to provide detailed information to patients during the exam, a practice not typically found in the work of other types of medical diagnostic professionals. This study presents the results of interviews with 23 obstetric sonographers who described their communication experiences and their views on sonographer training in communication. Results suggest that sonographers experience complex communication challenges in the workplace that are not typically addressed in their education, nor are they officially recognized in the official discourse of their profession.

Journal of Technical Writing & Communication


who is expected to communicate the diagnostic information found in the exam to the patient at a later time, the sonographer, in this “showing”, provides initial key information on the fetus to the mother. Obstetric sonographers are trained medical diagnosticians. As part of their professional tasks, they will review the patient’s record, determine the kind of ultrasound the patient should have, and then explain the procedure to the patient (Hall, et al, pp. 140-156, 1999). Once in the exam room, they will place gel on the patient’s abdomen so that the transducer wand can make a secure contact with the woman’s body and can image the soft tissue. The resulting grey scale images, which are cross sectional, appear on the sonogram screen, which the sono­ grapher (and the patient) can see in real time. Since each patient is different, the obstetric sonographer must be skilled in locating particular parts of the fetal and maternal anatomy. The images that the sono­ grapher gather are then isolated on the screen and quantified as various measurements of specific parts. The information that is collected then becomes part of a technical report for the physician. However, as stated above, this is not the end of the sonographer’s expected duties. Once the required technical measurements are taken and images are collected, sonographers must also show what is on the screen, often answering questions and later providing what is referred to as a “keepsake photo” of the developing fetus to the parent. In sum, the sono­ grapher must be both a skilled technician and diagnostician and also a skilled communicator. PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS’ COMMUNICATION GUIDELINES AND PRACTICES


The major accrediting organization for obstetric sonographers, The Association for Medical Ultrasound (AIUM), explains the sonographer’s role as that of a medical professional who reviews the patient’s clinical situation and then conducts, records, and reports on the exam (Obstetric Ultrasound Examinations, pp. 140-156, 2007). It is the physician who will review the report and sign the official record, with the understanding that it is he or she who will communicate the results of the exam to the patient. In practice, however, the lines can become blurred since it is, typically, the sonographer who reveals the fetus’ gestational age and, if asked, the gender, as well as other information about the fetal and maternal anatomy. In some medical offices,

the relationship between physician and sonographer is such that the sonographer is allowed to move beyond this information and provide the kind of diagnostic information that is usually left to the physician to communicate. Despite the expectation that obstetric sonographers will communicate information about what is on the sonogram screen, when I reviewed the curricula for a number of sonography schools and training programs, I found that the majority did not offer courses in communicating with the patient. In addition, while some of the programs did require communication classes, these were typically offered in the communication department of a university and were not specific to sonography communication. It is also interesting that the most recent 2007 AIUM practice guidelines make no mention of communication other than the need to complete and maintain the written documentation of the sonographic examination results and its interpret­ation. Similarly, the AIUM Ultrasound Practice Accreditation standards also make no mention of communication with patients. Finally, my most recent review of the website of the professional organization The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (No.4,


Fig. 1. Woman getting sonography. (Photographer, 2010)

Journal of Technical Writing & Communication

Obstetric Sonographers’ Communication, pp. 7–25


2009), does not mention oral sonographer–patient communication; instead, it emphasizes the need to make the correct assessment sand to complete the formal report. PURPOSE OF RESEARCH

This study will address the communication dimension of an obstetric sonographer’s work by presenting information gathered from obstetric sonographers themselves about the role that oral communication plays in obstetric sonography. Specifically, the study presents the results and analysis of interviews with 23 obstetric sonographers who practice in different parts of the United States. In the interviews that I conducted with the sonographers, I  asked them how they communicated with patients during sonographic examinations as well as whether sonographers needed communication training. The majority of sonographers included in the study worked in settings where they were told not to reveal diagnostic findings; however, the study also includedsome sonographers who worked in settings where the physician allowed them to provide diagnoses. Results from both groups show that most sonographers felt that the communication skills they now possess were the result largely of on-the-job experience rather than formal training, and they did not believe that their formal training had prepared them for their communication role. These results suggest that courses in communication should be considered as an additional requirement of obstetric sonographer training. REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Oral Technical Communication


Research that focuses on the oral communication of technical information hastended to play a lesser role in technical communication research than has written and visual communication. According to Cibanguk (pp. 79–105, 2009), oral have been conducted on oral technical communication include a research study by Darling and Daniels,who examined practicing engineers’ descriptions of their oral communication practices. These researchers found that the engineers’ oral communication skills, such as translation, clarity, negotiation, and listening, were vital to the daily work of their professional duties

Obstetric Sonographers’ Communication, pp. 7–25

(Darling & Daniels, pp. 1–16, 2003). In addition, Boriarsky studied the oral communication of scientists and revealed the ways in which women and men practiced gendered communication, affecting their approaches to decision making (pp. 451–459, 1995). Barton used discourse analysis in a medical setting to study how treatment options were discussed in oral conversations between physicians and oncology­ patients. Her results revealed the different ways in which physicians communicated orally with patients when providing difficult prognoses (67–111, 2004). Similarly, Campbell studied the ways in which physicians and patients built relationships through rapport management in their oral communication, finding that the physicians needed to be able to predict the likely rapport effects of their communication goals on their patients (pp. 145–156, 2009).


Medical rhetoricians have also contributed important information to the study of the communication of technical medical information. Segal, for example, has used rhetorical criticism to assess the persuasive element in different discourses of health and medicine, revealing, in part, the historical factors that influence oral encounters between physicians and migraine patients (p. 155, 2005). Other medical rhetoric studies in the area have helped highlight the differences in rhetoric between medical discourse of medical professionals and that of non-medical professionals. Koerber, for example, compared the rhetoric of online lay breastfeeding advocates to the official printed medical discourse on breastfeeding (pp. 304–327, 2005). She found important differences between the rhetoric of medical information provided in the institutionally authorized medical sources and the medical information that was provided by the lay practitioners. Similarly, Spoel studied the ways in which the ethos of midwives was communicated on midwifery websites and concluded that the rhetoric of the website supported institutional authority rather than engagement with members of the public (pp. 264–288, 2008). Other relevant studies on the rhetoric of medical information have explored the role of technology in medical discourse. For example, Graham examined the role of agency in the use of PET (positronemission tomography) brain scans in the ontology of fibromyalgia, highlighting the power that the PET technology had in legitimizing the entire discourse of the disorder (pp. 376–404, 2009).

Journal of Technical Writing & Communication

Medical Rhetoric and Technical Communication

Brasseur REFERENCES Association for Medical Ultrasound (2007) ‘AIUM practice guideline for the performanceof obstetric ultrasound examinations’, Laurel, Maryland. Barton, E. (2004) ‘Discourse methods and critical practice in professional communication: the front-stage and back-stage discourse of prognosis in Medicine’, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Vol. 18, pp. 67–111. Boriarsky, C. (1995) ‘Men’s and women’s oral communication in technical/ scientific fields: results of a study’, Technical Communication, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 451–459. Campbell, K. S. (2009) Physicians and patients: how professionals build relationships through rapport management, connecting people with technology: issues in professional communication, G. F. Hayhoe & H. M. Grady (eds.), Baywood, Amityville, New York, pp. 145–156. Cibanguk, S. K. (2009) ‘Oral communication and technical writing: a reconsideration of writing in a multicultural era’, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 79–105. Darling A. L. & Daniels D. P. (2003) ‘Practicing engineers talk about the importance of talk: a report on the role of oral communication in the workplace’, Communication Education, No. 2, pp. 1–16. Hall, T. (1999) ‘Ultrasound practitioner commission, the ultrasound practitioner: a proposal/response to the SDMS for the development of a middle care provider in ultrasoundImaging’, Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Vol. 15, pp. 140–156. Koerber, A. (2005) “You just don’t see enough normal” Critical perspectives on infant-feeding discourse and practice, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 304–327. Segal, J. Z. (2005) Health and the rhetoric of medicine, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, Illinois. Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (2009),



Brasseur, L. (2001) ‘Critiquing the culture of computer graphing practices’, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 27–39. Brasseur, L. (2003) Visualizing technical information: a cultural critique, Baywood, Amityville, New York, 2003.

Obstetric Sonographers’ Communication, pp. 7–25 Brasseur, L. (2004) Reprint with author commentary “contesting the objectivist paradigm: gender issues in technical and professional communication curricular”, in Central Works in Technical Communication, S. Selber and J. Johnson–Eilola (eds.), Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 475–490. Brasseur, L. (2005) Florence nightingale’s visual rhetoric in the rose diagrams, Technical Communication Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 161–182 .


Journal of Technical Writing & Communication

Direct reprint requests to: Lee Brasseur Dept. of English Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790



From black codes to recodification: Removing the veil from regulatory Williams, M. F. (2010) Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing Company, Inc.

Reviewed by John Casey Gooch, The University of Texas, Dallas

Vol. 42, No. 1, 2012

M. Jimmie Killingsworth and Jacqueline Palmer’s 1992 publication of Ecospeak:Rhetoric and Environmental Politics in America drew attention to the instrumental and monologic – as opposed to communicative and dia­logic – nature of environmental and scientific discourse in public arenas. Ecospeak highlighted the importance – and also absence –  of openness, trust, and respect in agency efforts to communicate with the public regarding policy decisions. Almost 20 years later, Miriam Williams continues in this same vein by asking readers to also contemplate the lack of trust and respect in regulatory writing aimed at African Americans as an historically marginalized group. Her book, From Black Codes to Recodification: Removing the Veil from Regulatory Writing, represents a very worthwhile scholarly contribution because Williams effectively probes the various dimensions of regulatory writing practices while actively considering the multiple stakeholders engaging these processes. Williams organizes her book according to three separate case studies of regulatory writing. Case Study i provides a critical discourse analysis of the Texas Black Codes of 1866; Case Study II relates her use of contextual inquiry for studying a group of policy writers in the Child Care Licensing Division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Service; and her last case study describes the reactions of six African American business owners to written regulations. Williams’s closing chapter, “An Invention Heuristic for Regulatory Writing”,


Index Terms: Contextual inquiry, cultural studies, plain English, public policy.

Journal of Technical Writing & Communication


explores the implications of all three case studies and alsodescribes “A Rulemaking Heuristic to Evoke Trust in Distrustful Audiences” that details considerations regulation writers should make in building trustamong distrustful audiences. In “Case Study i: Texas Black Codes of 1866”, Williams identifies discoursemarkers of trust and distrust based on her review of relevant scholarship in the Sintroductory chapter. She then uses these markers to analyze the Texas BlackCodes, which were passed in 1866 to regulate contract and, specifically, African American labor. Williams states that, in addition to her discourse analysis of these codes, a similar study of regulatory writing can potentially reveal rhetorical devices that policy writers can use to engage historically marginalized groups; furthermore, such an analysis can also identify rhetorical strategies evoking trustor distrust as well as reveal the collective voice of a government agency (p. 22). Williams’s findings reveal many more markers of distrust than markers of trust in the Texas Black Codes. The author, for example, notes 10 occurrences of regulatory language inconsistent with actions in the enforcement or intent of the regulations (p. 26). She also cites, as another marker of distrust, 10 instances of those persons enforcing regulations lacking credibility as well as indications of disproportional assessment of fines and/or physical punishments (p. 26). The Texas Black Codes also reveal six occurrences of regulated parties not receiving treatment as equal adult strangers as well as six occurrences of overt discrimination (p. 26). In two other tables providing additional detail for some of these findings, Williams points to the historical context to support how actual enforcement of the Texas Black Codes exemplifies these markers of distrust. Williams also shows how, after the repeal of the Texas Black Codes, genres of technical communication contributed to redefining post-Recon­struction labor and livelihood for black Texans (p. 35). According to the author, the Texas Laws Made Plain: Laws and Forms Prepared for Farmers Mechanics and Business Men manuals reflect such efforts. Williams analyzes its 1906 and 1921 editions to illustrate inconsistencies between Texas Laws Made Plain and Texas regulations in effect during the early part of the 20th century (p. 42). She argues, for example, that an inconsistency existed between the Texas Laws Made Plain manuals of 1906 and 1921 and Texas state laws in effect between 1920 and 1923. More to the point, records from the 37th Texas Legislature

fail to show any indications of specific laws regulating apprenticeship, but the 1921 Texas Laws Made Plain manual includes a detailed version of the apprenticeship regulation (p. 44). Through this evidence as well as other compelling examples, Williams, therefore,contends that the Black Codes and other laws in effect during this time used language that veiled discrimination against blacks.

Everyday Genres: Writing Assignments Across the Disciplines Soliday, M. (2011) Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 155 pp.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Tebeaux, Department of English, Texas A&M University.

In Everyday Genres, a volume in the cccc Studies in Writing and Rhetoricseries, Mary Soliday uses genre theory to analyze writing assignments that she encountered as coordinator of the Writing Across the Curriculum (wac) program at the City College of New York (ccny). She argues that genre theory provides an effective methodo­ logy for teaching writing across disciplines. Everyday Genres consists of only five chapters, supplemented by a lengthy and very useful set of appendices containing documents related to the specific writing assignments discussed in the book’s second and third chapters. The book’s introduction provides a marvelous overview to genre theory while the first chapter (“Sharing Genre Expertise”) is an account of how the WAC program at CCNY was esta­ blished and how it developed over the 7 years that Soliday was coordinator. The second chapter (“Stance in Genre”) addresses a major difficulty that students identify in university writing: “how to develop an


Index Terms: reading, rhetorics studies, teaching, college students.

Journal of Technical Writing & Communication


appropriate stance to talk about evidence to expert readers” (p. xii). The third chapter (“Content in Genre”) addresses how “novice writers find information and then shape their content into evidence for expert readers” (p. xii). In her conclusion, Soliday considers the necessity of providing students with access to learning course content by enabling them to master genres. In chapter three, Soliday addresses the issue of content, beginning by pointing out that having material to discuss is not enough, students must know what to do with it, how to “turn content into evidence for the readers” (p. 71). Genres are the key to this because they shape what readers typically accept as evidence in recurring situations. Soliday argues that “turning content into evidence is a social matter” because writers figure out what readers want to know by determining what they already know and want to learn. In order to learn this, writers need frequent contact with readers so that they can learn the motives typical of the genre. Soliday draws upon the situated learning theories of Jean Lave and EtienneWenger to consider how writers find material and turn it into evidence. She focuses on the importance of weaving invention strategies into an assignment process in order to involve the students in the situation and argues that “what matters is … how well professors contextualize genres in their classes, aligning the genre’s motive with course material, which might include explicit discussions of a field’s rhetoric” (p. 73). According to Soliday, situated learning theory helps explain “why the invention strategies and sequenced or linked assignments WAC specialists bring to the disciplines are so useful for writers addressing new audiences about new subject matter” and why college students “need direct and ongoing exposure to talk about prompts, models, and drafts with particular audiences: it explains the difference between participating in a situation and writing about it from a distance” (p. 73). At the end of this chapter, Soliday addresses the program’s successes and observes that the most successful professors were those who carefully integrated their assignments with the whole course, aligning prompts with course goals and content, with grading criteria and teacher feedback or with daily class activities. This is essential, she reminds us, because “the novice acquires genres as a practice when goals are aligned with stance, structure and content”(p. 90).


Journal of Technical Writing & Communication


Table of content EDITORIAL From the editor’s desk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Charles H. Sides ARTICLES Sonographers’ comples communication during the obsetric sonogram exam: an interview study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Lee Brasseur Accommodating scientific illiteracy: award-winning visualizations on the covers of science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Maria E. Gigante Hypertext theory: rethinking and reformulating what we know, web 2.0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Craig Baehr and Susan M. Lang A bibliography of works published in the history of professional communication from 1994-2009: Part 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Michael G. Moran and Elizabeth Tebeaux BOOK REVIEWS From black codes to recofication: removing the veil from regulatory writing, by Miriam F. Williams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Review by John Casey Gooch Performing prose: the study and practice of style in composition, by Chris Holcomb and M. Jimmie Killingsworth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Review by Nancy Small Envisioning collaboration: group verbal-visual composing in a system of creativity, by Geoffrey A. Cross . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 Review by Joel A. Kline Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126

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