2014 CFP

ATTW 2014 Conference Call for Papers

Shaping Data in Technical Communication:
How do we shape data, and how does data shape us?

Indianapolis, Indiana
March 19, 2014

Proposal submission deadline: Oct. 25, 2013 Oct. 15, 2013

The Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW) invites proposals for papers, posters, and workshops to be given at its annual conference immediately preceding the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). The seventeenth annual ATTW conference will be held in Indianapolis, IN, on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The full-day event includes concurrent sessions, poster presentations, workshops, book exhibits, and opportunities for exchanging ideas and networking in an academic environment.

Conference theme

The theme for this year’s conference is Shaping Data in Technical Communication.

Data permeates virtually every facet of our work as technical writers, researchers, and teachers. The increasing availability of both technology and data means immense amounts of information--both qualitative and quantitative--are available for consumption, articulation, and interpretation. The work of technical communication has been bound up with the representation of data since its origins. However, the proliferation of data in the 21st century poses new challenges for technical communicators and the field. “Big” data, collections of information that are especially large and complex, require special management tools and techniques. Metadata, data about data, brings new opportunities for information architects. From the simplest pie chart to the most sophisticated rendering of the largest datasets, data visualization techniques allows technical communicators to make complex data more accessible to a wider audience through graphical means.   

“Big” data, metadata, data visualization are some of the newest ways technical communication has engaged data, but data doesn’t have to be “big” to have a big impact on the work we do. Managing data is a high stakes enterprise. For example, institutional demands for program data are a staple of the “new normal” in public higher education post-downturn. The state and federal legislative push to hit performance benchmarks and their attendant metrics has trickled all the way down to the program level. Programs that fail to consider how to best measure and communicate the value of their efforts do so at their own peril.  

More conservative approaches to data focus only on “facts” and numerical statistics, but presenters are invited to consider any information that has been adapted for analysis, reference, and/or movement.  This inclusive call welcomes papers on a broad range of issues related to the ways technical communicators shape and technical communication is shaped by data. For example:

  • How do data (qualitative or quantitative) and related communication practices shape understanding and action in academic, professional, and social contexts?

  • What challenges - technological, pragmatic, ethical -- does the proliferation of data pose for technical communication scholars and/or practitioners?

  • What emerging data streams might transform our understanding of the teaching and practice of technical communication?

New teachers of technical communication, as well as graduate students, are especially encouraged to submit a proposal and attend the conference. Submissions on all topics are welcome, including:

  • skills for technical communicators - visualization, organization, classification, articulation, archiving, tagging, etc.

  • new sites of technical communication

  • impacts on the role of technical communicators in the workplace

  • impacts on pedagogy, course development, and program administration

  • areas of research and research methods for studying the generation, representation, and dissemination of data

  • opportunities for interdisciplinary intersections -- productive collaborations/areas for learning

  • impacts of new technologies

  • issues of ethics in the production and distribution of data

Proposal Format

Proposals that explore these and related issues are welcome, although we also may accept proposals that address issues that fall within the broad category of technical communication. All submissions must specify one of the following three formats for their proposals:

  1. Regular Session: Individuals may submit proposals for 15-minute talks on panels created by the conference organizers. These proposals should be no more than 300 words. Groups may submit proposals for 75-minute panel presentations. These proposals should be no more than 200 words per presentation plus a 150-word contextualization/justification of the panel (800 words max).

  2. Poster Presentation: Posters will be on display throughout the day with special times dedicated for conversations about this work. Proposals for poster presentations should be no more than 300 words.

  3. Workshop Sessions: The conference will include two 90-minute workshops concurrent with the regular sessions. Workshop proposals should be no more than 1500 words.

Proposals should remove all identifying information from the proposal itself, including the names and institutions of presenters. Proposers will have the opportunity to include this information when they register on the conference website.

Deadline for Submission

Proposals should be submitted no later than October 15, 2013, at the link for proposal submission available at http://attw.org/conference. All proposals will be peer reviewed.

Intended Audiences

All teachers and researchers interested in technical communication are welcome.


For any additional information concerning this CFP and the conference, please contact the conference co-chairs, Meredith W. Zoetewey (zoetewey@usf.edu) and Julie Staggers (staggers@usf.edu), both at the University of South Florida.


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