Recognition Thursday: Frank R. Smith Award

by Kevin Cuddihy on 22 March 2012

If it’s Thursday, it must be time for more recognition! Yes, that’s right—it’s Recognition Thursday! In past weeks we highlighted the new class of Fellows and Associate Fellows, the Ken Rainey Award, and the Jay R. Gould Award. Today we focus on the Frank R. Smith Award.

Each year, the editor of Technical Communication appoints a judging committee to select the outstanding article from the previous year’s issues. Judges base their decisions on article content and form. The award honors the memory of Frank R. Smith, during whose 18-year tenure as editor Technical Communication became established as the flagship publication of STC and the profession. This year’s judging team for the Frank R. Smith competition consisted of Charlie Kostelnick, Tatiana Batova, and Kit Brown-Hoekstra.

The judges are pleased to announced that the Frank R. Smith Outstanding Article Award goes to Henk Pander Maat and Leo Lentz for their article “Using Sorting Data to Evaluate Text Structure: An Evidence-based Proposal for Restructuring Patient Information Leaflets” in the August 2011 issue of Technical Communication. The introduction for the honored article states, “This article focuses on the design of patient information leaflets, and the role that card-sorting research may play in designing an optimal structure for such leaflets. The article demonstrates the use of an open and a closed card-sorting technique. The results show that the template for patient information leaflets prescribed by the European Union does not optimally serve the users.”

The judges wrote:

The Pander Maat and Lentz article is an exemplary piece of research that addresses several important questions about genre conventions, reader expectations, and research methodology.  It is well written, demonstrates thorough analysis, and uses statistical methods to prove significance. It illustrates how quantitative research methods can be applied to important communication problems, challenges regulations in favor of user-centered design, and is immediately useful to practitioners.

In addition, the judges also named a Distinguished Article for the year. That honor goes to Luc Desnoyers for “Toward a Taxonomy of Visuals in Science Communication” in the May 2011 issue. The judges wrote:

The Desnoyers article is ground-breaking work that addresses a key issue in visual communication that has not received much attention: classifying the wide array of disparate graphical forms used in many different scientific and technical disciplines.The article is well written, provides a broad scholarly perspective on the subject, and proposes an ingenious and comprehensive taxonomy that will enhance our understanding of visuals.  

Congratulations to all the honorees.

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