Ethics in Technical Communication

Subject: Ethics in Technical Communication
From: NewellMarian -at- cs -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2001 06:28:04 EST

I am in the final year of an MA course in Technical Authorship. I intend to
write my dissertation on an aspect of ethics in technical communication. My
main focus is likely to be on the views of members of the Institute of
Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC) here in the UK. However, I am
currently interested in gaining as wide a perspective on the topic as I can
and would welcome Techwr-l subscribers' input in two areas:

What do you consider are relevant ethical issues for technical communicators?

There are general ethical values, such as honesty and loyalty. There are more
specific dilemmas, such as divulging confidential or sensitive information in
the public interest or deciding whether to accept work or sponsorship from
questionable sources (and what makes them questionable). There are design
issues, such as manipulating text and graphics to create a certain
impression: at what point does it cross over from being effective information
design to deception? (If you give examples or discuss cases, please keep them
anonymous.)

Can you recommend any useful sources?

I have searched the archives of this list and the Society for Technical
Communication (STC) Web site. I have also been through some back issues of
the STC magazine and journal. I have read the following books:

Allen, Lori and Voss, Dan (1997) "Ethics in Technical Communication - Shades
of Gray". New York. John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Brockman, R John and Rook, Fern (eds) (1989) "Technical Communication and
Ethics". Arlington. Society for Technical Communications Inc.

Dombrowski, Paul (2000) "Ethics in Technical Communication". Boston. Allyn &
Bacon.

[I have "Ethics in Technical Communication" by Mike Markel on order.]

I will be following up promising references from these books but your
personal recommendations for particularly relevant or useful material will be
very welcome. At present, I am finding searches for ethics in technical
communication yield quite limited results but searches for ethics in a
general or professional context yield too many leads to follow up in the time
I have available.

My thanks in advance to anyone who can help.

Marian Newell

MarianNewell -at- newellporter -dot- co -dot- uk
01344 626895
<A HREF="http://www.newellporter.co.uk";>http://www.newellporter.co.uk</A>

Newell-Porter Ltd
Writing and Consultancy Services
14 Cromwell Road
South Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 9DG

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