Guidelines for Tutorials | Samples of Tutorials Published in the Transactions | Reviewers’ Expectations

About Tutorials:

Popular with our readers, tutorials synthesize research and theory on a topic, then present practical applications of that material as “lessons” that readers can apply in their work.

Examples of tutorials recently published in the Transactions include translating surveys, using search engine optimization, contrasting the difference between training and professional and technical communication, and integrating rich media into training modules.

Note that we do not accept tutorials on teaching; those should be presented as teaching cases.

Guidelines for Tutorials

Note: We recognize that, in our effort to focus on readers and be clear with authors, our guidelines are extensive and directive. We hope, however, this detailed guidance provides authors with the strongest possible guidance and ensures the most positive outcome possible from the peer-review process.

Formatting References Follow the IEEE style for formatting references, which differs from the APA and MLA styles that are more widely used among professional communicators. For instructions on formatting references, see Guidelines for Formatting References.
Formatting Text Note specific guidelines regarding:

  • File formats
  • Formatting of text (margins, spacing, type face)
  • Formatting of tables, charts, figures, and illustrations

See the Guidelines for Formatting Manuscripts for details.

Please use these titles as major section headings

Address these issues in the section

Introduction This section is intended to situate the tutorial and explain its significance to technical and professional communication.
Open by explaining:

  • What this tutorial is about (100 words max)
  • Why it’s relevant to readers of the Transactions on Professional Communication (100-200 words max)

Note: If it is possible, tell the story of a real world problem (actual or fictionalized) to explain the value of the tutorial.  This verbal “illustration” makes an otherwise abstract topic concrete.

Close this section by:

  • Stating the research questions underlying the tutorial
  • Providing a preview of the main sections in the article, using terminology that closely matches the headings.
Key Concepts This section is like a literature review but is specifically focused on presenting the key concepts in the literature that guide this tutorial.The literature cited in this section might include both peer-reviewed and popular sources.  Note that readers are more likely to be familiar with the popular sources—and in some areas, the advice in popular sources differs from that in the peer reviewed literature (and, in some cases, the two sources contradict one another). Make sure that the list of sources includes citations to literature in professional and technical communication, to situate the case within the larger conversation in the primary field of study for this journal.
Immediately following the Key Concepts heading, add a short paragraph that provides a preview of the section.  The paragraph should follow this format: SENTENCE 1: In 30 to 40 words, state the overall purpose of the section. SENTENCE 2: This section starts with list the sub-sections in the section, using words that match word-for-word the titles of the subsections.
Next, describe the general theoretical framework underlying this tutorial.That is, what guided your approach to this topic, such as a genre ecologies framework? A social capital view?  Pragmatic framework?  This provides readers with some insights into the thinking underlying the tutorial.
Next, explain how you selected literature to include in the review.Explicitly state which topics were chosen (and, if they were not mentioned in the discussion of the theoretical framework, explain why you chose them):

  • Explain how you conducted the search for literature (such as keywords selected)
  • State the criteria used to select individual articles from the results returned by the general search.
Theme by theme (between 3 and 7 themes in total), name and define relevant theories and research that underlie the lessons in this tutorial.Make sure to define terms and concepts and support them with research.
Key Lessons Present the advice of the tutorial in this section. Note:  This is the “meat” of the tutorial.  It should be the longest section.
Start the section with a short paragraph that provides a preview of the Key Lessons section.  The paragraph should follow this format: SENTENCE 1: In 30 to 40 words, state the overall purpose of the section. SENTENCE 2: This section starts with list the sub-sections in the section, using words that match word-for-word the titles of the subsections.
Present between 3 and 7 “lessons” or tips to readers.Each lesson presents a research-based heuristic (such as “Write in the active voice” and “Limit the number of steps in a procedure to 10.”)
Present each lesson as follows:

  • Sub-head, which is a verb phrase that specifically states the lesson (heuristic).

Note:  Precede each sub-head in this section with a sequence number. So the first lesson would be “1. Do such-and-such.”  The second lesson would be “2. Do such-and-such” and so on.

  • Explain the lesson.  When doing so, define all technical terms and concepts (even if you think readers might be familiar with them—their definitions might differ from yours).
  • Provide guidance in application—with specifics and tips.
  • Provide an example.

Note:  Ideally, use the sample example throughout this section to show how different lessons are applied across a single case.

Implications to Practice This section closes the article by describing the broader implications of the tutorial to the practice of technical and professional communication.
Describe the implications to practice for applying the lessons of the tutorial.Possible implications (include one or more):

  • Challenges to anticipate when implementing these concepts
  • Quantitative results of real-world efforts to apply these lessons
  • Qualitative results of real-world efforts to apply these lessons
  • Reactions of professionals when their organizations have applied these concepts
Do not place an additional set of Conclusions at the end of the article.
Abstract Please write the Abstract as a structured abstract.  Research has shown that these types of abstracts help readers better remember the article.The format for a structured abstract for a tutorial is:

Problem Summarize your purpose and rationale (1 to 2 sentences)
Research question Restate the research questions or the problem statement
Key Concepts
  • Name the key themes named in the Key Concepts section
  • For each, provide a 1- to 2-sentence summary of the key theme
Key lessons
  • Name the key heuristics named in the Key Lessons section
  • For each, provide a 1- to 2-sentence summary that provides the reader with guidance on how to apply the heuristic
Implications to practice Summarize the implications of this tutorial to practice in 1 to 3 sentences.

For more information about structured abstracts, click here.

Samples of Tutorials Published in the Transactions

J. Killoran, “How to use search engine optimization techniques to increase website visibility,”IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, vol. 56, no. 1, 50-66, 2013.

C. Baehr, “Incorporating user appropriation, media richness, and collaborative knowledge sharing into blended e-learning training tutorial,” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, vol. 55, no. 2, 175-184, 2012.

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Reviewers’ Expectations

To learn about the criteria that reviewers consider when providing feedback on a tutorial, click here.