RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken

Subject: RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: "'Sam Beard'" <sbeard -at- oico -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 5 May 2008 13:08:04 -0700

> From: Sam Beard

> Lauren,
> To say that technical writing doesn't require research is just
> patently wrong.

That isn't what I said. I said that business writing required some research
that technical writing does not require, but not that technical writing does
not require research. I qualified my claim by stating that technical
writing rarely requires research of sources outside of the immediate scope
of the project. Research within the scope of a technical project is a part
of technical writing.

> I had a job where I had to research different equipment
> from multiple companies, how it was used, where it was used, and which
> places used what types and levels of technologies. Then, I
> had to parse it all together, write a report detailing that
> information, and publish it after getting approval from my supervisor.

Your description of a time where you evaluated the equipment of your
competitors is consistent with business writing. As I said in another post,
there are times when an IT group will require a business document or a
business will require technical writing in its business documents. Just
because you were a technical writer when you performed this research, does
not mean that research outside the scope of a technical writing project is a
typical part of technical writing.

It sounds like you were recruited to work on a Market Analysis, or some
other analysis, although your company may have given the document a
different title. Just because you, as a technical writer, helped with a
market analysis does not mean that a market analysis is technical writing.
Market analyses and summaries are business writing that may contain
technical components. They are a part of business writing because they
focused on the broader aspects of the business. They require business
analysis, such as your work of reviewing multiple companies.

> the
> whole concept lends itself to being called technical writing. Why? For
> one thing, it wasn't creative writing, where things are simply created
> from one's imagination. It wasn't business writing, in the sense that
> you're talking about: financials, business cases and plans, SOPs, etc.
> However, as I stated previously, I still feel that this sort
> of writing
> is rightly called technical writing of business concepts.

Then what would you call the work of a business analyst? Business analysts
research and document subjects, but the end result is business writing.
Either as some form of report or plan. The result of business writing can
be used in technical development, but it is not a stand-alone document that
explains the functions of a particular system or application as technical
writing would. Also, just because a style of writing is not creative
writing or a part of your narrow definition of business writing, does not
mean that it is technical writing. A definition of technical writing that
states all writing except creative writing or this definition of business
writing is technical writing is far too broad.

> In short, just because SOME technical writing jobs don't involve
> research doesn't mean that ALL jobs don't involve research. And, in my
> opinion, talking with an SME or engineer is in fact research.

Your examples are generally within the scope of a technical writing project,
with the exception of your part in the analysis document. As I said in my
original post, business writing requires some research that technical
writing does not, like research outside of the scope of the project.

> Further, there have been numerous arguments against your claims of
> distinction between technical writing and business writing. You simply
> have chosen to ignore them. Ignoring them doesn't mean they
> don't exist.
> It simply means you don't see them or deny their existence.

I've seen many arguments about my example of risk between the writing
classes. I have no interest in defending that minor point that does not
impact my claim that differences exist between the two writing classes.
There are also arguments about the job titles of the people writing the
different classes of documents, but I am unclear about why the job title of
the writer is relevant.

Regardless, there are no arguments to show why technical writing and
business writing are the same. How are proposals, plans, market analyses,
other business analysis documents, feasibility study reports, and other
forms of business writing all technical writing? They are not.

I've read contradictions to my assertions, but I have not seen any supported
arguments against my claims that focus on the writing itself that were not
about job titles or the types of business writing that technical writers are
occasionally asked to perform.



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RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken: From: Sam Beard

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