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Articulating Value Amid Persistent Misconceptions about Technical and Professional Communication in the Workplace

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Purpose: The current conditions of technical and professional communication (TPC) practice reveal that the field has work left to accomplish in terms of proving value across disciplines. This article suggests that articulating the value of TPC is an ongoing process, particularly for practitioners, who have found ways to combat stereotypes.

Method: Findings are based on 39 qualitative, semistructured interviews with female practitioners of TPC. Participants were solicited across the United States and varied in age, class, industry, organization, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, and marital/family status. This article uses feminist research methodologies, with data from semistructured interviews analyzed through feminist content analysis.

Results: The data suggests that TPC is still considered to be expendable in workplaces. Participants highlighted the misconceptions and mischaracterizations of their work, including the myths that TPC work is cosmetic, secretarial, unarticulated, unnecessary, invisible, and unquantifiable. However, practitioners are moving forward despite these misconceptions. They face a host of pressures, but these conflicts are opportunities to prove value and change misconceptions.

Conclusion: Devaluation continues to permeate the profession, but practitioners have become skilled at combatting it. They know that educating others on the value of TPC is an ongoing project, highlighting the ability of practitioners to be an integral part of an expanding knowledge economy, all-edge adhocracies, and unique and networked organizations. Practitioners and scholars must continue to challenge and change stereotypes about TPC.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2017

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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