Published on July 18, 2022

Guiseppe Getto, Mercer University
Jack T. Labriola, Kennesaw State University
Amber Lancaster, Oregon Tech

As the technical and professional communication (TPC) field evolves, many college graduates and job seekers with TPC-related training are pursuing careers as user experience (UX) professionals [1], [2]. Salary surveys and job postings have shown similarities between TPC and UX job skills and competencies [3], [4], suggesting that universities should continue to update their curriculum to better prepare TPC students for careers as UX professionals (UXers) [3]-[5]. And though many TPC programs already include individual courses, certificates, majors, and even Master’s degrees in UX, as a field we have not documented the growth of UX as a major emphasis within TPC programs. In addition, many UX designers are undoubtedly receiving on-the-job training, and there has been virtually no research on these industry-based training programs.

At the same time, the field of UX continues to evolve and change. The central term for UX work beyond the classroom has remained stable, i.e., the UX Process or UX Lifecycle, which can be defined as the sum of activities that need to occur to ensure a high-quality user experience during the design of a digital product or service, and includes such tasks as user research, prototyping, usability testing, and maintenance. What can be described above as a relatively straightforward process is often anything but straightforward, however. Organizational goals surrounding a given application often shift and change. Target users for the application sometimes change, either because changes to organizational goals require it or because initial testing reveals the application isn’t appropriate for its original target user community. 

Exigences such as these mean that UX researchers can’t consistently predict the relationships between users and technologies. In other words, as digital products and services become increasingly pervasive and increasingly complex, the relationships among users, applications, and contexts of use become increasingly complex and increasingly unpredictable. Despite this increase in the pervasiveness, complexity, and unpredictability of use cases for digital applications, or perhaps because of it, many designers fail to include users in key design decisions. This practice results in many applications that fail to meet user needs.

The complexity of this process also lends itself to thinking of UX as a matter of communication that happens within a design process, which is probably why scholars of TPC have been increasingly interested in UX lately. This interest has taken many forms, including the development of pedagogies for teaching UX [5]-[7], the development of research methods for doing UX [7]-[11], the report of findings of UX studies [8], [10]-[12], and explorations of the state of UX as a field, including its central skill sets and disciplinary home [1]-[5], [13], [14]. This work is too diverse to sum up neatly in a paragraph, but let us attempt to draw some broad strokes:

  • UX and TPC feed into one another academically, professionally, and based on the paths TPC graduates tend to follow.
  • Though there are standalone programs in UX, most TPC programs at this point include at least some training in UX, at least as reported by the above-cited scholars.
  • These trends require TPC to develop new pedagogies and approaches to program development that enable us to effectively teach UX within our programs.
  • We must tie these results to developments in industry, including any on-the-job training that new UX designers will receive, and certification and credentialing programs.

Thus, our proposed special issue extends TPC scholarship on UX to the level of program development, within both academia and industry. We need to document the growth of UX within TPC as a field to learn from one another and to improve. We are interested in submissions from researchers across the discipline that address the following questions:

  • How are students and early-career professionals getting trained in UX? What kinds of educational, credentialing, internship, and mentoring experiences do they seek out?
  • What skill sets are essential for new UX designers? How do we effectively introduce these skillsets within our programs?
  • What approaches, methods, etc. are we using in our courses, credentials, and programs to introduce students to UX? How do these approaches differ from on-the-job training in venues such as industry-sponsored courses, internships, and entry-level positions?
  • How do we assure rigor in the UX methods that we teach in our programs as opposed to new methods that arise in industry contexts such as guerilla usability testing and rapid prototyping? In other words, how do we help students bridge the gap between tried and true UX methods and the realities that they may face in the workforce?
  • What terms and methods within UX are beginning to shift and how do we account for these shifts within our programmatic offerings? 
  • How are our programs responding to new trends that arise in UX as it is a notoriously fast-moving field?
  • How are programs responding to new trends that dovetail with social justice approaches and UX approaches, such as inclusive design, accessibility, and anti-racist design? How do we assure that our UX design teaching practices are representative of people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ability statuses?

Types of Projects

The types of research projects accepted for this special issue include:

  • Research articles
  • Integrative literature reviews
  • Case studies
  • Tutorials
  • Teaching cases

For further details on these article genres, please consult project formats supported by IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication at

Submission Process

This special issue has a two-step review process (see below for timeline):

  1. If you have a project that you believe is a good fit, send a 500-word abstract in Microsoft Word format summarizing your proposed article to the guest editors (, and The guest editors will use the abstracts to select authors who will be invited to submit a complete draft.
  2. Authors who are invited to submit a full article draft will have their manuscripts peer-reviewed. Based on these peer reviews, the guest editors will select articles for the special issue.

IMPORTANT: If you plan to present the results of a study involving human research subjects or will use examples from corporate or government communications, please obtain all approvals and permissions for publishing your results from your institution, company, and/or agency before you submit your abstract for review.

Timeline for Submissions

Abstract submission deadline: 1 September 2022

Notification of authors: 15 September 2022

Submission of complete drafts: 1 January 2023

Reviews returned to authors: 1 March 2023

Revised drafts submitted for second review: 1 May 2023

Final and complete articles submitted: 15 July 2023

Editing of articles completed by guest editors: 1 September 2023

Special issue published: 1 December 2023


[1]        J. Bloch, “Envisioning career paths in technical communication: A survey of participants in a technical communication graduate program.” in Proc. IEEE Int. Prof. Commun. Conf., 2012, pp. 1–8.

[2]        C. LaRoche and B. Traynor, “Technical communication on life support: Content strategy and UX are the reclamation,” in Proc. IEEE Int. Prof. Commun. Conf., 2013, pp. 1-6.

[3]        E. Brumberger and C. Lauer, “The evolution of technical communication: An analysis of industry job postings.” Tech. Commun., vol. 62, no. 4, pp. 224–243, 2015.

[4]        C. Lauer and E. Brumberger, “Technical communication as user experience in a broadening industry landscape.” Tech. Commun., vol. 63, no. 3, pp. 248-262, 2016.

[5]        G. Getto and F. Beecher, “Toward a model of UX education: Training UX designers within the academy.” IEEE Trans. Prof. Commun., vol. 59, no. 2, pp. 153–164, June 2016.

[6]        A. Shivers-McNair et al., “User-centered design in and beyond the classroom: Toward an accountable practice.” Comput. Compos., vol. 49, pp. 36–47, 2018.

[7]        K. St.Amant, “Contextualizing cyber compositions for cultures: A usability-based approach to composing online for international audiences.” Comput. Compos., vol. 49, pp. 82–93, 2018.

[8]        G. Getto, “The story/test/story method: A combined approach to usability testing and contextual inquiry.” Comput. Compos., vol. 55, pp. 1–13.

[9]        W. M. Simmons and M. W. Zoetewey, “Productive usability: Fostering civic engagement and creating more useful online spaces for public deliberation.” Tech. Commun. Quart., vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 251–276, 2012.

[10]      L. Potts, Social Media in Disaster Response: How Experience Architects Can Design for Participation. New York, NY: Routledge, 2013.

[11]      H. Sun, Cross-Cultural Technology Design: Creating Culture-Sensitive Technology for Local Users. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013.

[12]      G. Getto and C. Moore, “Mapping personas: Designing UX relationships for an online coastal atlas.” Comput. Compos., vol. 43, pp. 15–34, 2017.

[13]      J. Redish and C. Barnum, “Overlap, influence, intertwining: The interplay of UX and technical communication.” J. Usability Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 90–101, May 2011.

[14]      J. Robinson and C. Lanius, “A geographic and disciplinary examination of UX empirical research since 2000,” in Proc. IEEE Commun. Conf., 2018, pp. 1–9.