Re: social science writing

Subject: Re: social science writing
From: Ron Rothbart <ron -dot- rothbart -at- DOCUMENTUM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 1996 09:51:15 +0800

>>A good rule of thumb: The less technical writers write like a social
>>scientist, the better they are communicating.

Paula Puffer writes:
>I had to wait before responding to this letter because my technical writing
>career began as a social scientist (I'm a semi-reformed archaeologist and
>anthropologist). I see this more as a question of writing skill and
>training rather than an a question of technical writing vs. social science
>writing vs. academic writing.

Well, I'm glad someone came out of the closet as an ex-social scientist. I
suppose now I can admit the shameful truth. I actually had a brief, abortive
career as a sociologist before I got into this racket. There it is. I've
said it!

Actually, most academic sociology is written atrociously. Which also means
you need to think atrociously to write that way. I could never quite do it,
so I ended up doing historical sociology, which is only a little more
atrocious than being a historian. And as a general rule, historians are
pretty good writers.

Since engineers, who don't exactly have a great reputation for clarity of
expression, sometimes become technical writers, I don't think it should be
that surprising that a even a social scientist might become a technical
writer. As Max Weber said, "The rationalization of existence requires
step-by-step instructions."

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