Re: Academic/technical writing

Subject: Re: Academic/technical writing
From: Chuck Banks <chuck -at- ASL -dot- DL -dot- NEC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1993 07:41:15 CDT

While most Academic writing is expository or cognitive, neither
quality qualifies Academic writing as a form of technical writing.

Some Academic writing is indeed technical writing. In these cases,
one purpose of the resulting documents is to translate a subject
known best to specialists for understanding by nonspecialists or
to provide a reliable proceedure for use by nonspecialists. But
most Academic writing does not fall into either category. Most
Academic writing communicates from one specialist to other
specialists. Like a newspaper or magazine, such writing is very
informative, but doesn't often qualify as Technical writing.

Technical writing is not usually involved in communicating with
technical writers. Technical writing is usually intended to
translate information from specialists into a form useful to
nonspecialists. Not always, but usually.

So please, don't lump the two, Academic writing and Technical
writing, together. They sometimes agree in their intent, but
usually have much different goals and audiences.

I do think, however, that each form of writing can contribute
to the other, and does. I recommend to Technical writers that
they read Academic literature and adhere to its tenets of
accuracy, in depth research, and careful acknowledgements of
the work of others. To Academic writers I say absorb the
ease of understanding and economy of language whenever possible,
that is in Technical writing, and use the active voice for most
writing and rely on passive voice only to emphasize the object
of an action or to reduce monotony.

Chuck Banks
chuck -at- ssddoc02 -dot- asl -dot- dl -dot- nec -dot- com

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