What Does the Transactions Publish? What Do Transactions’ Readers Want to Read?

What does the Transactions Publish? What do Transactions’ Readers Want to Read?, which I co-wrote with Nancy Coppola, George Hayhoe, and Helen Grady and was published in the fourth quarter 2011 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication,characterizes the state of the material published in the peer-reviewed literature on technical communication and contrasts it with the preferences of readers of the Transactions.

As the abstract of the article notes:

Research Problem: The change in editorship of the Transactions on Professional Communication provides an opportunity for investigate the match between the content published by the journal and the content sought by its readers and to assess the uniqueness of the niche that it fills among peer-reviewed journals on professional and technical communication.

Research Questions: What content does the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication publish? How does that compare to the content published by other journals in the field? And what content do readers of the Transactions want to read?

Literature Review: Researchers in most fields occasionally analyze the entire body of literature within their disciplines as a result of a particular request or a research initiative.  The general purpose of these analyses is to assess the current state of the literature, although each analysis usually has a more specific focus that affects the entire field it covers.  Such reviews have had goals like identifying the leading works in a field, assessing the state of the literature of the field, providing a basis for changing the direction of a journal or body of literature, and assessing the alignment among different parts of  a body of literature. This study is rooted in a particular study intended to prepare for a transition among editors of a journal.

Methodology: To identify what the Transactions publishes and its unique niche among peer-reviewed journals in the field, researchers identified all peer-reviewed articles published by four major journals in professional and technical communication between January 2006 and December 2010: the Transactions, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Technical Communication, and Technical Communication Quarterly. Using the STC Body of Knowledge schema, two researchers coded the subjects of articles and adapting a schema by Klein (1999), they categorized the type of research underlying the articles.  To identify reader preferences, the other two researchers surveyed members of the IEEE Professional Communication Society (publisher of the Transactions) about their preferences for content and types of research (using the same schema).

Results and Discussion: The studies provide insights into the extent of alignment between  the material published by the Transactions on Professional Communication and the preferences of its readers on the types of topics covered and the methods used to generate them.

To see the complete article, visit http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=47.  (Note: Only free to members of the IEEE Professional Communication Society and to those entering through university libraries with a subscription to IEEExplore.)

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