Published on December 10, 2020

The new issue is now available online.

Volume 64, Number 4, December 2020

Integrative Literature Review:

Internet-Mediated Genre Studies: An Integrative Literature Review (2005–2019), by X. Shi, S. Carliner, and W. Wan

This study explores internet-mediated genre studies and identifies the specific genres studied, the analytical components, research methods used, and conclusions reached to characterize the current state of the research. A systematic search identified 35 qualified studies published in journals indexed in Social Sciences Citation Index between 2005 and 2019. Each was systematically analyzed to identify the genre addressed, communicative goal, medium, affordances addressed, and research methods used. Three main types of internet-mediated genres—email, website, and social media, and several sub-types—were identified, each distinguished by its medium and communicative goals. The affordances were either treated monomodally, mentioned as contextual information, or integrated into the analytical framework. Researchers relied on a variety of methods to study internet-mediated genres, most commonly mixed methods.

Research Articles:

Editing the Pitch: Patterns of Editing Strategies of Written Pitches in a Chilean Accelerator Program, by P. Cabezas, C. Spinuzzi, O. Sabaj, and G. Varas

After a 6-month training program in the Chilean public accelerator, entrepreneurs are asked to update a short pitch written in the submission stage for the program’s online portfolio. We designed an exploratory qualitative study to describe the editing strategies used in 148 pairs of written pitches. To contextualize the results, we also conducted two interviews with the program managers and analyzed the accelerator’s official Playbook and Technical and Administrative Requirements. We identified 10 editing strategies. Of those strategies, “Deleting technical descriptions” is the most common. The identified patterns can be classified into two groups, those simplifying, hedging, and focusing on certain elements of the first pitch; and those adding and specifying information in the first version. Finally, we discuss the approach’s strengths for understanding such edits and for supporting successful edits in accelerator programs, as well as the potential for better understanding entrepreneur coachability.

Following the Leader: An Analysis of Leadership and Conformity in Business Meetings, by H. W. Kim, B. Du-Babcock, and H. Chang

Past research has established the importance of discursive leadership in professional communication, but it has not systematically examined how conformity behaviors emerge as an undesirable consequence of discursive leadership. Based on 32,000 words of a transcribed meeting corpus, we measured conformity behaviors using Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency scores, widely used in information retrieval. We also operationalized the strength of discursive leadership as a positional centrality measure in the conversation network using a matrix algebra approach in social network analysis. Findings support the hypothesis that discursive leadership is associated with conformity in language aligned towards discursive leaders’ opinions.

How People Are Influenced by Deceptive Tactics in Everyday Charts and Graphs, by C. Lauer and S. O’Brien

Visualizations are used to communicate data about important political, social, environmental, and health topics to a wide range of audiences. However, perceptions of graphs as objective conduits of factual data make them an easy means for spreading misinformation. Participants (n = 329) were randomly assigned to view one of four treatments for four different graph types (bar, line, pie, and bubble) and then asked to answer a question about each graph. Participants were asked to rank the ease with which they read each graph and comment on what they used to respond to the question about each graph. Results show that deceptive tactics caused participants to misinterpret information in the deceptive vs. control visualizations across all graph types. Neither graph titles nor previous coursework impacted responses for any of the graphs. Qualitative responses illuminate people’s perceptions of graph readability and what information they use to read different types of graphs.

A Content Analysis of Figure Captions in Academic Journals from Four Disciplines, by J. Smith

Captions do important communicative work, but little research has investigated their content quantitatively. Using quantitative content analysis, I compared the frequencies of moves in captions across disciplines, determined whether the moves were conventional or optional, and identified patterns in the progression of moves in the captions analyzed. A supplementary analysis of the types of visuals that accompanied the captions offered insights into the findings of the caption-content analysis. Results suggest a high degree of variation in the rhetorical structure of captions in academic journals. Biology captions were, on average, the longest and contained the most moves. Technical and professional communication (TPC) captions were the shortest and contained the fewest moves. Psychology and linguistics captions fell between the biology and TPC captions.

Asynchronous Collaboration: Bridging the Cognitive Distance in Global Software Development Projects, by R. S. Sangwan, K. W. Jablokow, and J. F. DeFranco

The role of physical, temporal, and cultural distances in global software development projects has been well researched. Culturally diverse distant teams face challenges in collaborating effectively. We examine a fourth dimension—cognitive distance—that relates to team problem-solving styles that can also affect their ability to collaborate successfully. We examined project artifacts and emails among geographically dispersed teams within a global software development project. From the artifacts, we examined tasks allocated to different teams. From the emails, we established the communication network and volume, and performed a sentiment analysis. This analysis allowed us to observe communication quality and the sentiment/emotion that reflected how well teams were working together. Managing teams with vastly different problem-solving styles and tasks requires managers to be aware of the differences and introduce liaisons to reach across teams to bridge the cognitive divide.

The Relationship Between Future Career Self Images and English Achievement Test Scores of Japanese STEM Students, by M. T. Apple, J. Falout, and G. Hill

Japanese STEM students lack the motivation to learn English as a second language (L2), impairing their current capacities to learn the L2 and their future abilities to communicate globally on the job. Data from questionnaires examining psycholinguistic variables for 1013 Japanese STEM English students were subjected to ANOVA and multiple regression analysis. ANOVA results showed that students had a strong self-image as needing English for future career goals, as measured by the Ought-to L2 Self, but had lower levels of Ideal L2 Self, the variable measuring a future image as a fluent user of English. In the regression analysis, the Ought-to L2 Self predicted lower TOEIC exam scores; conversely, the Ideal L2 Self predicted greater TOEIC scores. These results indicate that these students struggle motivationally to improve English skills needed for future job-related communication, despite feeling pressured to do so.

Misinformation Harms: A Tale of Two Humanitarian Crises, by T. Tran, R. Valecha, P. Rad, and H. R. Rao

During humanitarian crises, communities of people face various types of dangers. To counter the dangers, they need information in a short period. Such need creates the opportunity for misinformation. Such misinformation can result in information harms with short- or long-term consequences. This paper examines the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2017 Oroville Dam evacuation order crises through two dimensions: Likelihood of occurrence and Level of impacts of the harms. Findings are presented through visualization and test results for significant differences of harms between scenarios. Similar groups of harms are identified with different severity levels based on post-hoc analyses: those with high likelihood and low impact (psychological and confusion harms), low likelihood and low impact (reputation and privacy harms), and low likelihood and high impact (physical, financial, safety, and social harms).