Featured Member Jo Mackiewicz

Jo Mackiewicz is an Associate Professor in technical and professional communication at Auburn University. She has been a member of ATTW since 2004 and is the editor of the ATTW/Routledge Book Series in Technical and Professional Communication.

Alma mater

Georgetown University, PhD in Applied Linguistics

Fields of interest

Politeness and credibility in evaluative texts such as editor-writer interactions, tutor-student conferences, online product reviews; document design

What got you interested in teaching technical writing?

Kathryn Riley steered me toward applying linguistics to TPC—what she and Kim Campbell had been doing for years. I am grateful for that. Besides my original interest in politeness, I’ve been able to study document design, usability, readability, and other topics I would not have encountered if I had followed a more traditional path in applied linguistics.

What projects/assignments/classes are you working on currently?

In terms of teaching, my graduate technical editing course has a sustainability theme this semester. We are reading Dougherty’s Green Graphic Design and articles such as Munger’s “Green Printing: A Guide to Environmentally Responsible Printing.” So I am learning things that are new to me and that challenge me, but it’s fun. In terms of my research, with Isabelle Thompson, I’m finishing up a paper on scaffolding in tutoring conferences. With Dave Yeats of Bazaarvoice (in Austin, Texas), I’m writing up results of a study of credibility, trustworthiness, and expertise in online reviews. With two colleagues from the College of Business, I’m writing up two semesters’ worth of outcomes from a WID program I coordinated. (It’s called the Business Writing Prototype, and I describe it in a 2012 JBTC article.)

What do you value most about the technical writing profession?

For me personally, I like that my editing work supports my academic life. But speaking of technical communicators in general, I think that we feel that we get to do something different and creative every day—and sometimes every hour.

Other than teaching and writing, what are you passionate about?

After years of nose-to-the-grindstone work, I am passionate about spending time with friends and family. I am also passionate about triathlon training. Finally, besides teaching and writing, I am passionate about building and enhancing our MTPC program.

What are your thoughts on the future direction for ATTW?

I think the leadership of ATTW has done a wonderful job (e.g., excellent journal, sound budgetary practices). I would, however, like to see more diverse theoretical and methodological approaches represented at our conference—particularly experimental research.