RHM Bibliography Project

We’re working toward getting our bibliography in a better working order. This has been a need and desire of folks in the community for some time and is now an official project of the RHM journal and the CCCCs Standing Group on Medical Rhetoric.

So the first thing that we need from you is to help us crowdsource getting the bibliography up to date by adding your work (from 2015 forward) to our google doc:


Then, if you’re willing to help out with tagging some of the existing list (there’s over 800 of them) then get in touch with Ellie Browning <ebrowning@writing.upenn.edu>. She’ll gather together a list of volunteers and then we’ll get those folks together who want to help out in early November and lay out a more detailed plan of action.



Upcoming Meet and Greets

To keep building our wonderful community (and so we have an excuse to chat about medrhet over adult beverages), we are offering two conference meet-and-greets in the fall.

One is for the Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference and the other is for the Conference on Community Writing.

If you situate your work in the rhetoric of health and medicine, and will be at either (or both) of these conferences, we invite you to join us! 🎉 🦄

The meet-and-greet for FemRhet takes place Thursday, October 5th from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in The Marriott at the University of Dayton lobby. Whether you are a seasoned scholar or just want to learn more about intersections between feminist and medical rhetorics, we encourage you to join us for an hour of casual conversation, mentorship, and collaboration.

The meet-and-greet for CCW will take place during the conference’s “Networking Happy Hour” from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 19th in Ballroom East.

We’ll send out reminders about each meet-and-greet via social media as we get closer to each conference date.

If you have questions, please email Medical Rhetoric Social Media Co-Directors Lori Beth De Hertogh at dehertlb@jmu.edu and Maria Novotny at novotnym@uwosh.edu.


Symposium Planning, 2019

Having just completed another successful symposium, it’s time for the community to think about and work on what the next iteration of the symposium will look like.

Just a brief overview. The current model of the symposium is not easily sustainable since it has been wholly funded from University of Cincinnati sources. What that means is that folks don’t pay a registration fee and a continental breakfast, lunch, snacks, and all day coffee/drinks are also provided to the participants for free. Funding pays for the room and the technology,  and it has also paid the expenses and an honorarium for some of the keynotes and featured speakers (this has varied widely per year but at minimum all invited featured speakers had their expenses paid). What this means is that the current model limits the number of participants that can attend since the symposium is charged per person. The average cost has been ~$15,000.

At the 2017 event, we had a session specific to talking about and thinking through the numerous issues associated with the planning of the symposium. Most importantly were discussions on what the event should feel like to ensure that we didn’t lose the ability to have engaged conversations with one another.

Following is an attempt at a summary of the comments for possibilities for the next iteration of the symposium.

Staying at every other year, in the early Fall was the consensus of the group. At this point, we are basing our planning on an early September date in 2019.

Financial Model
It seemed there was a consensus around charging a modest registration fee for attending. The fees that most seemed to circle around were

  • 75-150 for full-time faculty (realistically it would need to be at least 100 for the model to work)
  • half the price for contingent faculty
  • graduate students for free

This model does not mean local hosts could not attempt to find funding or that we couldn’t try another model (say through sponsorships of some type), but it did seem we needed to start charging a fee to give us more flexibility in planning.

feedback was split on whether the symposium should stay in Cincinnati or be moved. The rationale for keeping it in Cincinnati was the inclusive of the Kingsgate Conference Center and Hotel; it’s location within the city; it’s central proximity geographically and ease of getting there. All of these make it a reasonable choice. As Lisa mentioned as a related model, medieval scholars have gathered in Kalamazoo, MI for over fifty years.

The alternate idea of moving locations and having interested folks take over as local host also had its appeal. The biggest rationales for this was to move it around for convenience of geographic location; grow the community by inviting others to take on leadership roles; and inject new ideas into the planning.  Until the financial aspects are situated, it is difficult to see how to move the location.

There were numerous suggestions to determine a financial model in Cincinnati (working with the known entity) for 2019 and then move it in 2021.

As noted above, the size has been kept relatively small (40-60 people) due in large part to finances. There seemed to be a relative consensus of growing the number of people who could attend to up to 120, but most thought 80-100 was more reasonable to shoot for, at least in the 2019 iteration.

There was also agreement to keep the graduate student to faculty ratio roughly the same as it now. (See below for additional ideas to include both more graduate students and those people whose proposals may not be accepted.)

Leverage connections to other events
There was an interesting idea to work toward a more formalized strategy to extend symposium conversations–particularly around works in progress–to other venues. RHM scholars have created spaces at other disciplinary events so the idea was to formalize those by making time and space to gather and discuss works in progress (to include those who may have been rejected from the symposium). This could encourage more graduate student participation, as well as general participation.

This means we could look to work with those in RSA, NCA, CCCC, etc. to coordinate time and space for RHM scholars to meet and discuss/share their work. This way the spirit of the symposium works-in-progress and continue and nurture our scholarly endeavors.

In addition, in off years, we could hold writing workshops/retreats (in person or online) to move projects forward.

Some other interesting ideas

  • have the symposium CFP be a “live” version of a special issue topic for RHM, the journal
  • include a state of the field at the symposium that would be published in RHM
  • have a session that focuses on a series of recent works and talks about things such as questions that weren’t answered; methodological considerations; how to build on the work (even if we don’t agree)

Action item:

If you are interested in being part of the RHM Symposium Planning Committee, please email Lisa (meloncon@tek-ritr.com OR meloncon@usf.edu) by October 2.


Talking about CARS and Proposals

by Lisa Meloncon

The impetus for this post is to only have to write something once. Taking two steps back…the Symposium for the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine 2017 generated a large number of proposals. A pretty sizeable subset of those proposals were submitted by graduate students. This makes my heart get all warm and fuzzy because it means we have a strong next generation of RHM scholars. As I usually do, I offered to give them their feedback, but as I was beginning to copy and paste the feedback from the reviewers and prepared to add additional information, I heard my good friend, T. Kenny Fountain’s voice in my head.

See Kenny and I have talked a lot about proposal writing and writing in general. He’s one of my go to resources for all sorts of things (not to mention he’s just an awesome–and funny–human being), and we have often talked about professional development issues around writing.

So when I was reading the reviews for the Symposium proposals, I kept going back to those conversations and realized that many of the proposals (and not just from the graduate students) suffered from a common proposal problem. They didn’t do what John Swales calls CARS—creating a research space, which he talks about in Chapter 8 of Academic writing for graduate students: Essential skills and strategies. 3rd Edition. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

And once you start to understand Swales CARS in relation to your specific area in the larger field, it makes writing proposals for conferences (and getting started on journal manuscripts) so much easier. You can find a short summary of it at the UMass Amherst Writing Center.

The TL;DR version:

  • Establish territory
  • Establish a niche
  • Occupy the niche

It’s this last one—occupy—that was a major obstacle in most of the proposals. There wasn’t a clear occupation, particularly the proposal lacked a tentative answer to the “so what?” question. I get it that as graduate students or when working on a new project that you may not know really what the project is doing or what the contribution or implications may be. But, surely, you’ve read enough and designed your study thoroughly enough that you have a tentative answer to what your research question or problem will do for the field.

Reviewers really like to see the occupation, the move toward telling folks what’s important about your work.  Otherwise, reviewers are left wondering if the presentation will provide any value to participants. See, that’s a big key you have to remember. Reviewers and program chairs have a responsibility to try and provide the best program possible. Proposals are what we have to work with so it’s important as the writer of that proposal to hit all three parts of the CARS model.

(A small disclaimer: is CARS perfect? No. Absolutely, no. But if you use it, you’ll get a helluva lot closer to having something that reviewers can understand and act on.)

When you’re establishing your territory and your niche, it’s also VERY IMPORTANT to be clear about what your actual research question is or what problem you’re trying to solve. Folks need to know what’s guiding the actual research process.

So here are a couple of comments from reviewers. These—and variations of them—were written on almost every graduate student proposal (and many of the not graduate student proposals that were not accepted):

 This is an interesting idea, but the bulk of the proposal focuses on providing the background for the case with very scant discussion of what actual research related to the case will entail…the majority of the content needs to focus on the research questions to be address (which is not explicitly stated), describing eh method used, and the contribution/significance of this research in relation to RHM, which is somewhat implied but not central to this entry.

The details of the proposal are not grounded in the research in the field, and the exact nature of the approach (i.e. why certain things are bing done/proposed to be done) is ambiguous and unsupported….one cannot simply say “rhetorical analysis” and assume the reviewer knows what will be done (i.e., how the actual research and analysis will be conducted).

Keep in mind that every conference has a reviewer pool that has senior and mid-career scholars in it. That means that the reviewers can in some ways figure out what it is you’re trying to do. BUT, when your proposal is being rated against other proposals, the ones where the reviewer has to “figure it out” will surely be rated lower than the others.

It’s your job as the writer/author of the proposal to make it clear as to what you’re doing. This is where something like CARS can really come in handy. It can help you get started and also encourage you to ask critical questions of the proposal once you have it drafted.

What makes the work of organizing something like the Symposium worthwhile is being able to get an insiders view to all the great projects in process. I hope this helps y’all the next time you go to write a proposal (or start an outline of a journal article or book chapter).

Happy summer writing!




Call for Assistant Editors for RHM journal

Call for Assistant Editors for Rhetoric of Health & Medicine

We seek two Assistant Editors to work with us on the new journal, Rhetoric of Health & Medicine (RHM), published by the University of Florida Press. To get a description of the journal, go to http://upf.com/rhm.asp.

The journal will have a robust, dynamic website and social media presence. One of the primary purposes of both is to give the journal a public-facing presence, to help connect its research to broader groups of stakeholders (e.g., practitioners, policymakers, publics) who could benefit from it. To this end, the journal’s website and social media could feature: 1) accessible overviews of the journal’s published research; 2) engaging video or podcast interviews with research authors (and perhaps participants); 2) commentaries by expert rhetoricians on timely topics. The other primary purpose of the journal’s Web presence, of course, is to promote the journal as a scholarly forum among rhetoricians and other scholars.

Working with the editors, the two assistant editors will shape RHM’s website and social media strategies and content. Initially, the assistant editors’ responsibilities will likely include:

  • Marketing the journal and key content through social media outlets;
  • Assisting authors in marketing their work;
  • Arranging and completing video or podcast interviews with authors or other rhetoricians around topics that align with journal issues;
  • Writing accessible overviews of published work and its implications for public audiences;
  • Helping to coordinate the journal’s marketing with affiliate organizations;
  • Helping to build the RHM community through encouraging subscriptions and submissions online and at various conferences.

We anticipate that the two assistant editors would together need to devote 3-5 hours a week with more time right before and after an issue is published.

Applications should include:

  • A brief statement that summarizes your interest in the position;
  • A brief description of any ideas for public-facing marketing and for collaborating with the other assistant editor;
  • A cv.

Send applications by April 24, 2017 to Rhm.journal.editors@gmail.com

Initial queries or questions should be directed to either Lisa Meloncon (Meloncon@tek-ritr.com) or Blake Scott, co-editors (bscott@ucf.edu)

CCCC panels and activities

For those of you who are more on the composition and writing studies side of the house, the CCCCs is coming up, March 15-19, 2017 in Portland.

Mark your calendars for the following:

March 16 at 5:00: RHM happy hour at Spirit of 77, which is just a block or so from the Convention Center.

March 16 from 6:30-7:30: Medical Rhetoric SIG in B112

Related Sessions

Thanks to Lora Arduser for pulling these together and to others for adding their own sessions. Quite a bit of RHM and related activity!!

G.38 Feminist Historiography: Uncovering Rhetorical Activism
Panelists consider how religion, science, and “professionalism” both
constrain and liberate women writers.

H.36 Intuition, Empathy, and Care in Medicine and Nonprofit
Panelists consider questions of empathy, care, and intuition in medicine and nonprofit organizations.

I.18 From STEM to STEAM: Analyzing Medical Rhetoric and
Personal Narrative in Professional Writing
This panel analyzes the movement toward narrative in medical discourse and the incorporation of the humanities in the WID classroom.

J.05 Rhetorics of Health and Medicine: A Roundtable
Examining Ways to Sustain Growth and Cultivate New
Sponsored by the Medical Rhetoric Standing Group
The roundtable addresses questions about how to sustain growth and cultivate new opportunities in the field of medical and health rhetoric.

B.16 Transitions and Transfers in Technical and Professional
Explorations of transfer and transitioning into the workplace.

B.36 Issues of Public Health: Strategies for Public Intellectual
Various perspectives on the idea of the public intellectual.

D.22 Local and Global Demands on Technical and Professional
Communication across Contexts in Latin America
This panel examines local and global demands on communication
practices in Spanish for engineering and public health across Latin

E.38 Thinking Inclusively and Cultivating Empathy: Teaching
Writing to Future Professionals
This interactive panel proposes professional writing course revisions
toward cultivating inclusivity and empathy in future professionals.

J.41 Reproductive Discourses as Sites for Rhetorical
Cultivation of Social Action
This panel considers the complex intersections between women’s
reproductive health and the discourses that mediate their bodies.

K.31 Ethics of Care and the Teaching of Technical
Four perspectives on feminist approaches to health communication.

K.52 The Nonrational/Nonspeaking Subject: A Disability-
Studies Analysis through Narrative, Qualitative Research,
and Philosophical Inquiry

AW.12 Engaging Disability and Accessibility in Class
Assignments: Integrating Disability Studies in the Fabric
of Comp and Technical Communication Curriculum
Twelve experts in small, interactive groups train composition and
professional writing instructors to design disability- and accessibility focused assignments.

A.13 Cultivating Critical Connections: Case Studies and
Microhistories of Composition and Corporatization,
Disability and Diversity
Four studies of four very different institutional contexts will be used to connect disability services and writing programs.

A.24 Medical Narratives—Cultivating Stories, Voices, Selves,
Knowledge, Action
This interactive roundtable focuses on medical narratives as forms of creative nonfiction in composition teaching and rhetorical research.

A.37 Cultivating Accessibilty and Inclusion through Disability
Pedagogy and Universal Design
This session examines student learning environments in relation to
universal design principles and inclusive learning.

B.47 Past the Law: Moving from Legal to Just in Disability
Questioning ableist discourses of accommodations via new rhetoric that focuses on advocacy over obligation.

C.41 Rhetorics of Disability: Cultivating Change across
Discourse Communities and Developing Connections for
This panel explores disability rhetorics in popular and academic cultural arenas to bring awareness of representation and inclusivity.

D.20 Composing Activist Spaces: The Spatial Rhetorics of
Civil, Disability, and Men’s Rights Movements
This panel investigates how activists compose new meanings of space to argue for inclusion, rights, and justice.

D.43 Composing Medical Humanities: Innovative Writing
This panel considers innovative approaches to composing in the spaces of interdisciplinary medical humanities outreach and instruction.

E.47 Rhetoric and Disability: Neurodiversity, Communication
Practices, and Self-Advocacy
Panelists discuss the rhetorical affordances offered by the communicative practices of neurodiverse and disabled communities.

G.46 Cultivating Change in Graduate Education: (Re)thinking
Training for Politically Progressive Community Projects
Through four snapshots of university-community partnerships, we call for more preparation for politically progressive community work.

H.05 More Than Writing through It: Self-Care, Disability, and
Rhetorical Practice
Sponsored by the Disabilities Studies Standing Group
This panel approaches care from a rhetorical disability studies perspective to challenge the normative nature of writing practices.

H.50 “Cripping” the Writing Program: Disability and Policy
beyond the Ableist Script
Panel critically examines policy documents, specifically the syllabus, as a means to move beyond the ableist script.

J.38 Remediating Cross-Disciplinary Capacities: Digital
Humanities, Social Media, Fan Studies, and Disability
Cultivating capacity at the intersections of composition and the digital humanities, social media, fan studies, and disability rhetoric.

E.42 A Rhetoric of Empathy to Build Audience Accessibility to
Medical Research
The speakers will discuss the process of converting medical texts to
patient manuals to include empathy to build access to medical writing.

Session K, please consider “Discursive Agency in Illness: Empowering Everyday Writers to Cultivate Critical Communities”



CFP for special issue of TCQ

Download CFP

Nearly twenty years ago, the landmark special issue on “Medical Rhetoric” was published in Technical Communication Quarterly. Since then, research in this area has flourished, with scholars publishing numerous books, articles, and special issues on the topic. The editors of that special issue, Barbara Heifferon and Stuart Brown, noted how the humanities—specifically rhetoric and technical communication—could “suggest alternative discursive practices” in healthcare workplaces (p. 247). Their goal was to reunite the disciplines of rhetoric and medicine, a split that can be dated back to Platonic times (Bell et al., 2000).

Following the lead of that TCQ special issue, editors of special issues in other journals have worked to position medical rhetoric within the broader field of the medical humanities and in relation to other healthcare fields. In 2005, the Journal of Business and Technical Communication published a special issue on “The Discourses of Medicine.” In the editor’s introduction, Ellen Barton noted the interdisciplinary breadth of the field. The discourses of medicine, she pointed out, had become a space where the humanities, the social sciences, and medicine merged. Other special issues narrowed the scope of the field by focusing on topics such as online health communication (Koerber & Stills, 2008), the relationship between writing and medicine (Haas, 2009), the importance of publics in healthcare issues (Keränen, 2014), and the centrality of communication design to health-related fields (Meloncon & Frost, 2015). These collections further refined and clarified the research scope of the field.

Recently, though, some researchers in this field have been leaving behind the title of “medical rhetoric” in order to draw a distinction between themselves and the medical humanities. They have adopted the title “Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (RHM),” which is simultaneously more specific and more expansive than medical rhetoric. In advocating for the term “RHM,” Blake, Segal, and Keränan ask scholars to engage “in programs of research that complement, but are different from, programs of research in bioethics, medical humanities, health communication, or the allied health professions” (2013, p. 2). The medical humanities, as Keränan argues, are concerned with “humane—and distinctly human—dimensions of health and medicine” (2014). To query these dimensions, medical humanities scholars traditionally use theoretical frameworks and methods from the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Alternatively, as Blake, Segal, and Keränan argue, RHM scholars should “query medicine’s epistemology, culture, principles, practices, and discourses” with the goal of improving areas of medical practice (2013, p. 2).

In this special issue, we are looking for articles that explore the intersections and tensions between RHM and the medical humanities. At this nascent stage in the field’s development, we wonder whether separating RHM from the medical humanities might curtail opportunities for research, curriculum development, and engagement. Separating too early could have unintended ideological and practical repercussions; it could restrict research funding opportunities, and it might limit our access to political capital. Ideologically, this split risks reinforcing an outmoded but still existent two-culture division between STEM and the liberal arts, undermining the re-unification of medicine and rhetoric that Heifferon and Brown (2000) thought medical rhetoric could achieve. For practical reasons, we are concerned that such a split could also potentially cut RHM researchers off from the financial and political resources that are currently flowing into the medical humanities, which is one of the fastest growing areas in academia today, with universities like Yale, Ohio State, and Baylor adding medical humanities programs to their curriculums.

As we approach the 20-year mark from that original special issue in TCQ, we would like to turn our attention back to defining the fields of medical rhetoric, RHM, and the medical humanities. Similar to Heifferon and Brown’s (2000) goal to restore the natural connections between rhetoric and medicine, we aim to learn how two related areas—RHM and the medical humanities—can mutually inform each other. This CFP invites submissions that put these areas into conversation and engage questions like the following:
Building on Blake, Segal, and Keränan’s (2013) observation that RHM complements but is different from the medical humanities, how can RHM complement the medical humanities? How can the medical humanities complement RHM?
How can theoretical frameworks and methods used in RHM and the medical humanities intersect in ways that allow the fields to work together?
How can RHM scholars participate in and contribute to the medical humanities? Likewise, how can scholars in the medical humanities participate in RHM?
In what ways can research in the medical humanities be applied to healthcare workplaces, similar to RHM?
In what ways can RHM and medical humanities scholars make a meaningful impact on the medical field, broadly defined?
With the advent of telemedicine, the medical workplace has become distributed across time and location. How has this shift impacted RHM and the medical humanities? How can these areas contribute to understanding telemedicine?
How has RHM scholarship impacted technical communication? In what ways can the medical humanities impact technical communication? What RHM and medical humanities theoretical frameworks, methods, or findings can be imported into technical communication?

This issue is scheduled for January 2018. Please email 500-word proposals to Elizabeth Angeli (elizabeth.angeli@marquette.edu) and Richard Johnson-Sheehan (rjohnso@purdue.edu) by the deadline of January 17, 2017.  For accepted proposals, complete manuscripts will be due by July 17, 2017. In the meantime, we welcome questions via email from potential contributors.

A Journal of Our Own

Blake Scott and I are pleased to announce that we have a journal of our very own!

The University of Florida Press will be publishing the journal the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine with a launch date of early 2018.

So brush off those manuscripts and get ready to submit them. Details will be be forthcoming.

There are so many people to thank that made this all happen, but we want to take a moment to highlight a few of them here. Big thanks to Linda Bathgate who was a huge supporter of this project from the beginning and instrumental in making it happen; Judy Segal and Barbara Heifferon who held up the “medrhet” flag for so long almost single-handedly; to Lisa Keranen who was not afraid to hang out with folks outside of Comm; to Susan Well who is such a fierce advocate and makes you believe that an idea is good; and to those attendees at the first symposium (especially Amy Koerber and Celeste Condit who agreed to be featured) who took a chance on a crazy idea.

Most of all, to each of you in this community for sharing your work and ideas and passion. This is what made others believe there was critical mass for this sort of venture.

So we have arrived, and I cannot think a better community to be a part of as we move into the next chapter.

If you have questions, feel free to contact Lisa.

Third Thursdays at 3:00

Join the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine/Flux community for informal chats that are focused on a specific topic of interest to members of the community.

Download a summary (*.pdf) of this information so you can have it at the ready!

November 17

In our first chat on Nov. 17, we’ll be discussing strategies for self-care related to professional goals and personal experiences with research in the rhetoric of health and medicine.


The chats are mostly informal and are open to any student, faculty member, researcher, or professional who might be interested. There will be a facilitator that will introduce the topic and keep the conversations moving forward, but these chats are meant to give us a time and space to connect outside of the various and dispersed conferences we attend. In some cases, the facilitator may ask a person or two to be there that may have special expertise and experience in the topic. We’ll tweak the format as we go based on feedback and participation.

Time (3:00 PM – 4:00 PM)

When we say our chats start at 3:00pm, you’ll notice that we haven’t specified a time zone. That’s because the chats will stay open for 3 hours to accommodate our varied schedules! Third Thursdays are designed to run for an hour, but if you only have 30 minutes, feel free to join for the time that you do have.

We’ll begin at 3:00 pm EST, but then for those of you in the central time zone, you log on at 3:00 your time, and the same goes for those of you in the mountain time zone. (Sorry Pacific folks that we don’t have a time just for you. But we felt going 4 hours pushed us beyond our planning and organizing limits.) If you’re not available at 3pm in your own time zone, but can join for one of the other two, then figure out what time that will be for you, and join us then!


The role of the facilitator is to be certain that someone is there at the top of every 3:00pm hour and to keep the conversation moving. In some cases, the facilitator(s) may have specific expertise on a topic, which is why they volunteered (or were asked). In other cases, it’s just someone who wants to see the Flux community be vital and grow. So don’t hesitate to contact one of us and volunteer!! (See Questions below for contact information.)

Log in information for all Third Thursdays at 3:00


https://ucincinnati.webex.com/join/melonclk | 647-435-383


+1-415-655-0002 US Toll

Access code: 647 435 383

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please note that this WebEx service allows audio and other information sent during the session to be recorded, which may be discoverable in a legal matter. By joining this session, you automatically consent to such recordings. If you do not consent to being recorded, discuss your concerns with the host or do not join the session.


Here’s a list of topics for the first few Third Thursdays at 3:00pm

Date Topic Facilitators
November 17 Self-care EST:Rachel Bloom-Pojar

CST:Lori Beth de Hertogh

MST: Lisa Meloncon

December 15 Framing research for different audiences EST:



January 19 Research methods EST:



February 16 Publishing EST:



March ATTW/CCCC Stay tuned for happy hour meet-up details
April 20 TBD (send us a suggestion) EST:




Questions, Suggestions, and How to Volunteer

Feel free to email Lisa (Meloncon@tek-ritr.com), Lori Beth (dehertlb@jmu.edu), Rachel (rachel.bloom25@gmail.com) or Sarah (sasinger@live.unc.edu) if you have any questions, suggestions for a topic, or if you want to help facilitate a conversation.

All those working in the rhetoric and health and medicine and closely related fields are welcome to attend and/or facilitate! Follow @medrhet on Twitter or join the Flux Facebook group for updates. Invite your friends or colleagues who might be interested, and keep the conversation going by tagging related tweets with #medrhet.



Making review transparent

22 July 2016 by Lisa Meloncon

In what follows I briefly describe the process that we took in reviewing proposals for the proposed volume The Rhetoric of Health and Medicine As/Is: Theories and Concepts for an Emerging Field. Since the editors (Scott Graham, Jenell Johnson, John Lynch, Cynthia Ryan, and me) come from across Communication Studies and English Studies (including tech comm and composition), we went into the project know that we would have to negotiate a lot to end up with a group of contributors and a structure that we all could get behind. Most of you know, it’s hard enough to get two academics to agree on something, much less five 🙂

Fortunately, we did know something about each other and had the opportunity to meet and discuss the vision of the volume as proposals were coming in. But, then a good thing happened. We received a lot of proposals, and we were in the position that the vast majority of them met the objectives of the call.

So that meant, we needed a process to review them as  fairly as possible. The process we ended up on was

  • ranking every proposal on both quality as a stand alone proposal and it’s adherence to the CFP
  • discussing  on the original scores and the establishment of tentative sections based on the proposals with the highest scores
  • re-ranking individually (that is each editor took another go at ranking) a large number of the top proposals again and then placing them into section categories
  • reviewing of all proposals again to determine if we missed a series of strong proposals around specific topics
  • placing consistently highly ranked proposals into the final section lists
  • deliberating on that list and making adjustments

At each stage of the process, every editor weighed in with a score and/or an opinion. I was the one who collated all the scores and information and redistributed it. Several parts of the process we made sure we deliberated alone so that all the perspectives could be heard and then a consensus formed. All in all we talked and sorted and ranked and talked some more for a month (takes into consideration time given for folks to do the work and then reconvene). The point here is that it wasn’t a process we took lightly nor one that was easy. The multi-stage process helped us to get a better vision of what the book could and should do, as well as gave us the opportunity to see proposals in different ways.

When it’s laid out like this, it seemed like an easy, fluid process, but I can assure there were lots of wrangling. It’s hard to take a large number of proposals that all have some merit and narrow those down to 13 selections that incorporated important multiple concepts and then also had some conversations between them. Having already discussed this project with a press, we consistently had their guidance and advice in mind as well. (For the younger scholars out there, it’s a tricky process this publishing with lots and lots of variables. All of which make the process for edited collections a little harder to do. IMO.)

We ended with authors from across the rhetoric of health and medicine to include communication, composition, writing studies, rhetoric, and technical and professional communication. We also run the gamut from graduate students to senior scholars in the field.

In the end, we landed on a volume that took our own CFP seriously and includes a series of concepts that are vital to understanding the emerging (or emerged) field of the rhetoric of health and medicine. And one that we feel can be used in our scholarship and our teaching.

If you have any questions about the process or (really anything), please feel free to get in touch with me.