Sustainable practices for developing a body of knowledge

Hillary Hart, Craig Baehr

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: This special issue attempts to situate the Technical Communication Body of Knowledge (TCBOK) within the framework of other bodies of knowledge to understand the relationship between a profession and its BOK. The issue also investigates how approaches such as developing taxonomies, engaging communities of practice, and constructing framing metaphors can inform the evolution and content strategy for a body of knowledge or an organization-specific knowledge base. Method: Reviewing the literature on developing bodies of knowledge and consulting with academics and practitioners on specific developmental goals and objectives for the TCBOK led us to posit three areas for focused investigation: constructing information taxonomies, engaging users and developers as a community of practice, and employing conceptualizing metaphors that can guide development without sacrificing complexity. Results: The articles' explorations of content strategy, information taxonomies, and user engagement are shown to be relevant for developing both company-specific information standards and field-wide bodies of knowledge. We leave open the question of whether use of conceptualizing metaphors belong more to construction of a BOK than to a set of standards. Conclusions: The TCBOK is a healthy, maturing collaborative project, which perhaps indicates we have matured as a field, and explains who we are and what we do as a field. It articulates the boundaries of knowledge in our field and the value added to the profession. Continued development and maintenance of TCBOK will benefit from continuing research into the relationship that professions sustain between their body of knowledge and disciplinary practices in the field and in the academy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalTechnical Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Body of knowledge
  • Conceptualizing metaphors
  • Information standards
  • Knowledge bases
  • User engagement


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