Technical Communication, the journal of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), is soliciting article proposals for an upcoming special issue that will examine how factors of law and of culture affect how technical communicators work in international and cross-cultural contexts. This special issue will be published in November 2010, and the guest editors are Kirk St. Amant of East Carolina University and Martine Courant Rife of Lansing Community College.
SPECIAL ISSUE DESCRIPTION
Legal issues are increasingly affecting the work we do as industry practitioners, academic researchers, university and college educators, and independent entrepreneurs in technical communication. In some cases, these legal issues involve notions of ownership, copyright, and trade secrets. In other instances, legal concerns related to privacy, disclosure, and free speech affect how technical communicators perform different activities. These legal issues are further complicated by different cultural perspectives related to working in global environments and to addressing the informational needs of different cultural groups within our own nations. Very few individuals in technical communication, however, are lawyers or have formal training in issues of law and its intersection with different cultural communication expectations and assumptions. This special issue of Technical Communication will examine the legal issues affecting technical communication practices related to designing materials for or to working with individuals from other nations and cultures.
POSSIBLE TOPICS FOR THIS SPECIAL ISSUE
The guest editors invite proposals for papers on applied research or theory, case histories/studies, tutorials, and/or annotated bibliographies that address the following issues:
- Why should technical communicators attend to global/international legal issues? Why not?
- What kind of training should technical communicators have to address issues of law and culture effectively in international and domestic contexts?
- How are legal issues or requirements related to language and translation affecting technical communication practices?
- How should technical communicators working in international organizations approach legal issues? Should these issues be turned over to the “legal department”? Should technical communicators have input on organization policies with respect to implementing law? Should they be seen as experts in this area? Why or why not?
- What developments in international law, treaties, or global-context legal conversations may impact the work of technical communicators (e.g., the EU Data Protection Directive, TRIPS [Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights], conversations on appropriation of traditional knowledge)? What recommendations might be developed to work within or challenge these new developments?
- How do legal issues affect communication practices in globally distributed virtual teams?
- What kinds of legal issues do international practices such as off shoring raise for technical communicators? How do these issues affect technical communication practices or provide new opportunities for technical communicators to contribute value to their organizations?
- How have legal issues in global contexts become more immediate with regard to the continual growth of and use of online media in international contexts?
- In what ways can our history of examining issues of intercultural communication contribute to how we approach legal issues in global contexts?
- How do cultural differences related to intellectual property and copyright affect technical communication practices – particularly practices involving globally distributed teams?
- How do issues of government surveillance and data mining affect the ways in which technical communicators interact in globally distributed workplaces or use online media to present information and exchange ideas across cultures?
- How can aligning global legal issues and local legal issues help – or complicate how we work and conduct research as technical communicators?
- What kinds of theories or research methods from the field of technical communication might inform our ability to understand legal issues in global contexts?
- In what ways can/should technical communicators enter into public discussions about global-legal issues?
Proposals should be no more than 400 words in length. All proposals should include submitter name, affiliation, and email address as well as a working title for the proposed article.
The schedule for the special issue is as follows:
1 June 2009 — 400-word proposals due
15 June 2009 – Guest editors return proposal decisions to submitters
1 October 2009 – Draft manuscripts of accepted proposals due
15 February 2010 — Final manuscripts due
November 2010 — Publication date of special issue
Completed proposals or questions about either proposal topics or this special issue should be sent to Kirk St. Amant and Martine Courant Rife at firstname.lastname@example.org.