RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken

Subject: RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken
From: "Sam Beard" <sbeard -at- oico -dot- com>
To: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
Date: Mon, 5 May 2008 15:26:43 -0500

Lauren,

The type of report I wrote about in my last email where I researched
equipment and how it was used and so forth was NOT a market analysis by
my company that researched the competitors of that company. I will not
nor can not go into much more detail than I did already as the work was
classified. I WILL repeat the assertion that it was NOT a market
analysis, in the sense you think. There were definitely technical
elements to the report and it was much more than a market analysis.

In any case, this is all pointless as you refuse to admit that anyone
else may be right. Technical writing, as we all know, is a VERY broad
term that encompasses a variety of writing types and styles. What one
person does can be, and often is, very different from what another does,
and so forth. Accept that and don't limit yourself or others and we'll
all be much happier. Beth and others have had very good points along
these very lines.

Samuel I. Beard, Jr.
Technical Writer
OI Analytical
979 690-1711 Ext. 222
sbeard -at- oico -dot- com


-----Original Message-----
From: Lauren [mailto:lauren -at- writeco -dot- net]
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 3:08 PM
To: Sam Beard
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken

> 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.

Lauren

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

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