2nd Edition

A Research Primer for Technical Communication Methods, Exemplars, and Analyses

By George F Hayhoe, Pam Estes Brewer Copyright 2020
    328 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    328 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This fully revised edition provides a practical introduction to research methods for anyone conducting and critically reading technical communication research.

    The first section discusses the role of research in technical communication and explains in plain language how to conduct and report such research. It covers both quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as surveys, usability studies, and literature reviews. The second section presents a collection of research articles that serve as exemplars of these major types of research projects, each followed by commentary breaking down how it corresponds to the information on that research type. In addition to five new chapters of exemplars and commentaries, this second edition contains a new chapter on usability studies.

    This book is an essential introduction to research methods for students of technical communication and for industry professionals who need to conduct and engage with research on the job.

    Part 1: Methods 

    1. Research: Why We Do It and Why We Read It 

    2. The Research Phases and Getting Started 

    3. Reviewing the Literature 

    4. Conducting a Quantitative Study 

    5. Conducting a Qualitative Study 

    6. Conducting Surveys 

    7. Conducting Usability Studies 

    Part 2: Exemplars and Analyses 

    8. Analyzing a Literature Review 

    9. Analyzing a Quantitative Research Report 

    10. Analyzing a Qualitative Research Report 

    11. Analyzing a Report on the Results of a Survey 

    12. Analyzing a Report on the Results of a Usability Study


    George F. Hayhoe is Professor Emeritus of technical communication at Mercer University. He has served as editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication since 2016, and was editor of the Society for Technical Communication’s journal, Technical Communication, from 1996 to 2008. He is a Life Fellow of IEEE and a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication.

    Pam Estes Brewer is Professor and Director of the MS in Technical Communication Management program at Mercer University. She focuses on the communication of international virtual teams, online communication strategy, and usability research. Dr. Brewer is a Fellow in the Society for Technical Communication and authored the 2015 book International Virtual Teams: Engineering Global Success.

    "In many introductory methods classes, instructors cobble together numerous sources to design a robust class. This volume has it all in one place—an explanation of research questions, a strategy to research the literature and annotate it, clear explanations of the major research methods of the field of technical communication, instructions on writing up the research report—plus examples of award-winning, full-length, peer-reviewed studies pulled from our own major journals, which are much more relatable to new researchers than trying to see how psychology or education studies apply them. Throughout, its tone is reassuring, its explanations crystal. I strongly recommend anyone teaching or becoming a new researcher use this volume as their introduction."Angela Eaton, PhD, Associate Professor of Technical Communication and Rhetoric, Texas Tech University

    "This revised edition offers thorough, practical, and applied information for anyone interested in technical communication research. The rich content and supplementary materials give readers diverse techniques for improving their research practices. This is a must-read primer that is as effective for the classroom as it is the workplace." – Ryan Boettger, PhD, Associate Professor of Technical Communication, University of North Texas

    "As the field of technical communication has grown in the last decades, well-designed research has become especially crucial to the advancement of knowledge. Written in an accessible style, the second edition of A Research Primer for Technical Communication: Methods, Exemplars, and Analysis will prove useful to advanced undergraduates and graduate students studying technical communication research approaches." – Marjorie Rush Hovde, PhD, Associate Professor of Technical Communication, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

    "A Research Primer for Technical Communication: Methods, Exemplars, and Analysis (2nd ed.) delivers what its title promises […] [T]his edition retains the most important characteristic of the first one: clear, straightforward explanations that should be accessible and engaging to all readers. A must-have for any student or professional technical communicator." – Saul Carliner, PhD, Professor of Educational Technology, Concordia University (Montréal)