Published on July 7, 2024

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication

MARCH 2024       VOLUME 67      NUMBER 1       IEPCBU      (ISSN 0361-1434)


Beware: Processing of Personal Data—Informed Consent Through Risk Communication, L. Seiling, R. Gsenger, F. Mulugeta, M. Henningsen, L. Mischau, and M. Schirmbeck

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims to harmonize data protection law in the European Union. Processing personal data based on individuals’ consent is lawful under the GDPR only if such consent meets its requirements and is “informed.” However, complex privacy notice design and individual cognitive limitations challenge the ability to make consent decisions. Risk-based communication may address these issues. We examined the GDPR through a systematic qualitative content analysis and then used those results to inform the analysis of 32 interviews with security experts. We identified risk-relevant information categories, specific consequences, and relations between them, along with risk mitigation strategies. We provide controllers, regulatory bodies, data subjects, and experts in the field of professional communication with information on risk formation in personal data processing. We propose information categories for risk communication that expand the current regulatory requirements.

An Analysis of Bias in Language Content in Books Used in Technical and Professional Writing Courses: A Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Matter, A. J. Carthell

In this article, I examined 10 technical and professional communication books (TPCBs) to get a glimpse into whether and how the authors discuss bias in language (BIL. Using content analysis, I examined 10 TPCBs to determine whether and how the authors address BIL. When found, I documented the presence, frequency, and composition of all BIL discussions for all 10 texts analyzed. Nine of the 10 examined include discussion of BIL, and of the BIL types found, sexist/gendered language was mentioned the most—appearing in nine of them. I provide tables to show the composition of the authors’ BIL discussions. I conclude with three recommendations to authors (and to practitioners, researchers, and educators surveying TPCBs for practice, research, and teaching), discuss implications and the limitations of my analysis, and give my final thoughts.

Metaphor, Stance, and Identity: A Corpus-based Study of CEO Letters in Chinese and American Corporate Social Responsibility Reports, C. Hu, A. Zhang, and Y. Xu

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports are strategic tools for winning stakeholder support and trust through building and maintaining favorable identities and positive images. We collected 630 Chinese and American CEO letters in CSR reports, identified linguistic metaphors, inferred genre-specific conceptual metaphors, and conducted comparative analysis of metaphor-based stance and identity. Although Chinese and American companies share several genre-specific conceptual metaphors, variation in the metaphor scenarios is used to produce the stances and evaluations that contribute to favorable corporate identity construction. In the economic dimension, companies from both countries portray themselves as “capable builders,” “competent players,” and “hard-working gardeners,” but only Chinese companies identify themselves as “active architects and travelers following national policy.” In the environmental dimension, Chinese companies delineate themselves as “determined environmental protectors” and “faithful friends” of nature, while American companies describe themselves as “environment-conscious travelers” and “responsible stewards” of nature. Both identify themselves as “good corporate citizens” in the social dimension.

A Multi-Dimensional Analysis of Leaders’ Messages in Chinese and American Corporate Social Responsibility Reports, H. Zhang and F. Chen

Leaders’ messages in corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports provide information about corporate citizenship and play an integral role in realizing communicative goals and influencing stakeholders’ perceptions. Our study focused on lexico-grammatical features (using Biber’s multidimensional analysis) to compare the language used in leaders’ messages in the CSR reports issued by Chinese and American businesses on the 2022 Fortune Global 500 list. Compared to the American messages, the Chinese leaders’ messages are significantly more informationally dense, more narrative, less situationally dependent, less explicit, and display significantly fewer features of strict time-constrained informational elaboration. They use more first-person pronouns, present tense, nominalizations, adverbs, infinitives, modal verbs, and demonstratives.

Measuring the Degree of Website Adaptation and Its Influencing Factors: An Empirical Investigation of Chinese MNCs’ Overseas Websites, W. Xu and X. Shi

Website adaptation is widely regarded as a strategic priority for successful cross-cultural business communication. This study first used content analysis to examine the cultural manifestation on Chinese multinational corporations’ (MNCs’) US websites and then quantitatively measured their degree of website adaptation. The association between the adaptation degree and its influencing factors was tested through a regression analysis. The results indicated that Chinese MNCs have adapted their US websites to the US culture to a large extent. Product type, degree of internationalization, and firm size were significantly correlated with the adaptation degree, yet the association between products’ technological intensity, top management’s international experience, and the adaptation degree was not confirmed.

The Influence of Disciplinary Variation and Speaker Characteristics on the Use of Hedges and Boosters in Zhihu Live Talks, W. Yuan, Y. Jin, and Y. Yang

Zhihu live talks, as a major online knowledge commodity, enable speakers to provide professional information and interact with audiences. The use of hedges and boosters has been associated with realizing such a goal. We collected the transcripts of 123 Med and 126 Edu live talks, as well as the demographic information of each speaker. Following a framework adapted from Hu and Cao, we conducted an analysis of the frequencies and functions of hedges and boosters, and how they associate with speaker characteristics in each category of live talks. The two corpora exhibited significant differences in the frequencies and functions of hedges/boosters, and the differences can be attributed to the conventions of knowledge making in medicine and education disciplines. The findings can guide different speakers to configure metadiscourse to inform, argue, and direct while popularizing professional knowledge of different disciplines.


Bridging the Accessibility Divide: Testing the Efficacy of an Accessible User Experience Model via a Case Study of Microsoft’s Inclusive Design Toolkit, H. Willers

I conducted a case study of Microsoft’s Inclusive Design Toolkit using thematic coding to analyze foundational texts in the toolkit to demonstrate how technical and professional communicators (TPCers) can use Oswal’s model of AUX to diagnose current practices by examining them through an AUX lens and identify opportunities to achieve greater accessibility. Applying an AUX framework as an analytical tool illuminated strengths within the toolkit’s methodology and practices, and identified opportunities to expand its practices for greater accessibility. AUX holds promise as a tool for TPCers to analyze current approaches to accessibility and plan for even more inclusive practices.


Introducing Engineering Students to Standards and Regulatory Research and Writing, L. Kuryloski, E. Rowley, and K. R. Moore

We use the ASTM standards database to train students to read and engage with research in regulatory documents. By situating this standards research within an emergent case study, students are introduced to additional constraints for writing as an engineer, including budgetary constraints, slide decks, and summary documents. We assess the case study through student self-report data and provide readers with recommendations for applying this case study in their own programs and classrooms. Students who engaged in the standards project reported that they were able to connect their assigned work to their futures as engineers. They also reported an increase in their understanding of how to read and research using standards.