Re: Need help with a research project

Subject: Re: Need help with a research project
From: Damien Braniff <dbraniff -at- iss-dsp -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 07 Nov 2000 08:50:22 +0000

Bruce Byfield wrote:

> <<One of the main reasons for my reactions is that most academic study
of the
> field seems to have more to do with careerism than any advancement of
> >>

Quite true in a lot of cases though I don't think that this is limited
to academic
TW but is more across the board. This I feel is, at least in part, down
to how
teaching as a whole is regarded. It used to be that academics had two
functions - research and teach. Now there must be 'added value' and
must be justified, research for the sake of research just isn't enough
any more.
Where would we be if this had been applied to 'hard science' over the
last 100
years? Personally I feel that a lot of the things we take for granted
now wouldn't
be around now. Research is goal orientated - find a way to do this etc.
Yet so
many inventions were spin-offs from pure research that had no goal other
than to
broaden our knowledge. I know that it's not quite the same in the 'soft
but again there have been advances.

> <<In short, much of the academic work is simply irrelevant to the
field as a
> whole. Like the social sciences in general, usually it seems a poor
imitation of
> the hard sciences that consists mainly of jargon, pseudo-objectivity,
and a
> misapplication of statistical methods. And, since much of the academic
study of
> technical writing
> seems an off-shoot of literature departments (from whence I fled
screaming, five
> years ago), too often it doesn't even have this mimicry to anchor it
> reality.>>

Again a lot of this is true but I certainly wouldn't say all the
academic work was
irrelevant. With hard science we're told that X + Y = Z - it's a fact
bounds!). It's hard and fast, set etc. With the soft sciences it's
more likely
to be written in sand but I see it as a guide that you can take or leave
as it
suits your situation. I'm currently doing an MA in TW and have done
quite a lot
of reading, both by academics and practictioners of the craft and in
both I have
found drivel and little gems of wisdom that, to me at least, explain
In some ways I see academics in the field a little like art critics - I
KNOW what
I like but another perspective can broaden my own view of things and
help me get
more out of it. With TW stuff, I have my own views (haven't we all) but
we can
always learn.

Damien Braniff
Technical Author
Integrated Silicon Systems Ltd. Tel: +44 28 90 50 4000
50 Malone Road Fax: +44 28 90 50
Belfast BT9 5BS Web:

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