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I think this shows the difficulty of coming up with a good way to describe yourself when the functions are outside the norm of what a Technical Writer/Communicator usually does (or the lack of a reference point, in your case). You do have a varied and interesting assignment. (And a great mission.)
For my part the job title is secondary. I'm trying to identify the niche and process for what I've been doing or see myself as potentially doing going forward. But all of what we're discussing shows that sometimes the totality of the field is very hard to pin down.
Thanks for sharing.
From: On Behalf Of Debbie Hemstreet
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:08 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Update: Data Presentation Architect / Architecture
I'm definitely struggling with this issue these days. Now that I'm working at a hospital in Israel I have the glorious official title of "English Editor" because they didn't know what to do with "Technical Writer." (No official government positions for a technical writer.)
So when I'm given something to "edit" and provide them with a rewritten document, with recommendations for reorganizing information, redone graphics, or a request for the original PPT file to redo the graphics, etc. some are thrilled (like one Director here yesterday), and others have no idea how to respond.
I just explain nicely that the official job titles don't adequately describe what I do... the message is catching on... and at last, I'm getting busier and busier with the kind of work I love! Technical Medical Writing with Medical Marketing thrown in.
I think for some a title is important... to me, I try not to let it bother or influence me. I'm thankful I have a job! But I realize, the importance of a title is not for me, but in helping others understand just what I do, so that they can best utilize my services.
>From that perspective, Technical Writer really doesn't work for most of us. Technical Communicator (which I use on my website, for now...) also doesn't get the message across. Because our (or my) definition for "technical" is not exactly correct.
For example, if I'm writing a critical business sensitive letter from the President of the company to a potential business partner, every aspect of my technical writing skills come into play. My letter is going to be much better than the secretary's, and probably not have many changes... so was I playing secretary or technical writer?
Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none doesn't work, because many of us ARE Jacks and Jills of all trades, and MASTERS of many! Just not necessarily the trade we are documenting. For example, I can edit a medical journal, handle the DTP, check for logic and order, detect when data doesn't match up, point out that the graphics do not convey what the author intended, or that the table could be redesigned to better display the data; because of my medical background from 30 years ago, I even have enough knowledge to know when they have erroneously referred to the liver when they meant the kidney (and I do all this) However, I will never be a master doctor... but I'll always be able to help the doctor write a better paper for publication. (Of course some doctors don't want the help... until their paper is rejected by reviewers who tell them to do everything I told them to do... and more!)
The point, define what I am? Medical Writer? Yes, but not according to the definition of the people hiring medical writers in Michigan, when I was living in the US.
At the end of the day, I find that if people SEE what I do and appreciate what I do, and I am satisfied with the remuneration I receive... the only reason these days I care about what my title is, is because OTHERS simply don't know how to use my services adequately.
So I have an official title in my job description, and when I send emails to people at work, I adjust the title to:
Editorial Assistant, RMMJ
English Editor and Writer
It still doesn't come close to what I really DO (because I'm also doing a lot of marketing writing these days).... but it works and no one is complaining.
Just my two cents worth to a discussion that will continue as long as there are "technical writers" and "technical communicators" and "Information Architects" out there.
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