English, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Business and Technical Communication 17:4 (October 2003), pp. 490–495 doi: 10.1177/10506519030174005 Copyright © 2003 Sage Publications. Used by permission. http://jbt.sagepub.com


We have come a long way in studies of writers in professional settings, learning with each exploration how these behaviors differ from and relate to the processes we have taught beginning writers in our classroom. Studies of these processes have become increasingly more sophisticated since Selzer (1983) treated researchers to his intriguing account of a technical writer’s composing processes. Next, we saw case studies of writers designed to produce real-world writing contexts for students—such as Cases for Technical and Professional Writing, which I coauthored with Rymer Goldstein (1985)—and then more detailed descriptions of how writers learn to become proficient communicators in their profession, such as Winsor’s (1996) Writing Like an Engineer. Running apace with these studies of individual writers, several researchers now have investigated the complicated role of collaboration in workplace writing— a dynamic not desired or promoted in literary writing or academic writing in the humanities—conducting studies of specific writer-supervisor relationships, the peer-review process of editing complex documents, and the effects of electronic writing tools on promoting and directing collaborative writing processes. But even though we have come a long way in our studies of writers in professional settings, I wonder whether the conclusions drawn from such research can truly help advance our knowledge about how to improve professional writing practice and its teaching. ... Instructors who are teaching future teachers of technical and professional writing would find Cross’s study a valuable tool to show students who have not written in a professional context what that setting is like.