Re: Wish list for academic research

Subject: Re: Wish list for academic research
From: "Jane Bergen" <jbergen1 -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "Techwr-L List" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 23:12:15 -0500

Amen. There are far too few studies done anymore on these subjects,
which is one of the reasons we have people such as one on this list
who proclaims:

"I'm rebuilding a doc right now for a company that used a big formal
process to write the doc. Wow. You should see this thing. It is like
some Rube Goldberg/Sam Peckinpah/John Waters/Paul Verhoven/Hunter S.
Thompson mescaline induced vomitous nighmare."

Well, maybe the manual was bad, maybe it wasn't, but without any
studies to say what is or is not acceptable/beneficial/usable or a
nightmare, beauty is left for the beholders to bicker about. We do
have the STC journals, but the articles are seldom true research. Once
in awhile we get case studies about how something was done at XYZ
Corporation, but I've also seen people complain that even these are
"too much" and they don't want any "academic" material in the STC
journal!! Sheesh. Instead, newbies are asking questions on this list,
which is kind of like having McDonald's explain balanced nutrition.

I hope this provokes some discussion and I really, really would like
to hear from some "academics" (Tommy Barker and others, where are
you?) about what is currently being done. Why isn't STC funding some
studies? Or IEEE? Or some of the organizations that form web
standards? A lot of new developments in technical communication are
running amok (web page design is just one example), because we're
still basing everything on old, possibly outdated and erroneous
premises of communication.

Bring it on,

Jane Bergen

----- Original Message -----

From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- lts -dot- com>
> There are a number of academic folks who use this list regularly,
and I am glad
> to see that they find the practical experience of us in the trenches
> for
> their students. However now I want to turn the tables and ask the
academics for
> some help.
> Over and over again in the last couple of years I've run up against
a need to
> justify some point or another about documentation and online help
and other
> things I classify as "information resources." I've wailed in the
past about the
> paucity of hard, numbers-based research on how people use online
help, and I
> find
> that I'm up against it again: where are there
academically-defensible studies
> showing how different categories of users actually use the
information resources
> we're creating for them? For instance, is there a study that says,
> that Unix system admins won't use online Help even if one is created
for them?

(long, but good discussion snipped for brevity)

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