The use of research (was Screen captures (was RE: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 35, Issue 14))

Subject: The use of research (was Screen captures (was RE: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 35, Issue 14))
From: "Hemstreet, Deborah" <DHemstreet -at- kaydon -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2008 09:00:22 -0400

Madelyn wrote: "Look, I understand your perspective. But everyone here
is arguing with the only study actually done on this. Until or unless
additional study is done, we sound like government/church scientists
arguing that OF COURSE the sun goes around the earth, EVERYONE knows
that, and any evidence to the contrary is the work of Satan and
obviously wrong!..."
" Do you accept the possibility that it could ever be improved? "
>3. Real-world business results trump "research" every time.
Corollary: Research can improve on real-world business results,
delivering an even better product. How's the flat earth down in the

Hi All,
I am certainly not saying that the research is out to lunch. However,
all research is subject to review. Within the limitations of the paper,
the authors conclusion definitely have merit.
However, I stress the word "limitations".
I read the article and noted the samples with interest. All of the
partial screen captures were so partial as to give the reader no way of
determining where the information was located on the screen.
There is always room to discuss research, its results, the limitations
of that research, and whether our practical experience supports the
In the scientific community, research papers have been published that
could not be supported by practical experiment - the research was
challenged, leading to new studies, new conclusions, or finding out that
the authors messed with their data.
In this case, we have one case study looking at one type of partial
screen capture as opposed to one type of other captures with call outs.
However, the research does not do the following:
- look at other types of partial screen captures
- examine the quality of the screen captures to begin with (many of
the captures with call-outs go against many things I was taught as part
of good technical communication. I am at work and don't recall the
reference right now, but there is an excellent book out there on
creating educational graphics - the designers of the graphics in the
research could stand to learn a thing or to
In light of these issues, I, and the people on this list, are quite
justified to DISCUSS (we are not arguing) the results, their impact, and
how we see these issues in our own practice.
Research does indeed improve our work. In fact, an article in Technical
Communication a few years back led to me drastically changing the way I
design tables. I recall colleagues asking why, and I said that I wanted
to see if people found them more readable. The answer? Yes. My practical
implementation of what I learned from the research improved my work and
further supported the research.
Finally, I dare say no one is on this list because they do not want to
learn. We are all communicating, discussing, and sharing, to learn from
one another and improve our own professional practice.
At the end of the day, my opinion (and I stress, this is my opinion) is
that this research article we have been discussing is somewhat faulty.
It has merit in stating the obvious (when one compares the graphics
selected for comparison to recommended graphic styles in other
publications), but it does not fully address the issue.
Well, now I really do need to get to work....



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