Technical and Scientific Writing
English 613 is an intensive study of theory and practice of technical and scientific writing, with emphasis on writing for a variety of audiences. This section of the course will focus on gathering technical information, writing technical documentation for end-users, and technical editing. The major project of this section will the production of guidelines for IT Coordinators in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The two textbooks for the class will provide theory (Central Works) and practice (Technical Editing) in Technical Writing. In addition to the major project, there will be several shorter assignments from the Technical Editing textbook.
One of the main issues this class will address will be the fundamental importance of the readers or users of technical documents. These readers are not critical readers--they are busy readers. They need to find information quickly, and the information must be clear and accurate.
Rude, Carolyn. Technical Editing. 4th ed. ISBN: 032133082X ($84.00)
Johnson-Eilola and Selber, eds. Central Works in Technical Communication.
Prices as of January 15, 2007. If you are charged more at the bookstore, let me know.
Assignments and Grading
The Final Project (download as MS Word® | download as pdf) will be the production of new guidelines for the CHSS IT Coordinators. These IT Coordinators are responsible for tracking and maintaining University-owned computers and other equipment for their respective Departments. They report to the CHSS IT Office. The documentation for the IT Coordinators is scattered between University, College, and Department web sites. The Director of CHSS IT would like one central set of guidelines for the IT Coordinators.
In order to compose this document, you will need to
- Locate and summarize the existing documentation
- Interview IT Coordinators from different Departments to identify needs
- Write a draft of the new guidelines
- Test the new guidelines
- Submit a final copy of the guidelines
This project will make up 80% of the grade in this course:
- Stage 1: Summary of existing documentation: 15% of course grade.
This will be a group grade.
- Stage 2: Interview reports: 10% of course grade.
This will be an individual grade.
- Stage 3: Drafts: not graded, but required for next stage.
- Stage 4: Usability test report: 5% of course grade.
The tests themselves will not be graded, but I will be one of the test-takers.
The report will be a group grade.
- Stage 5: Final copy: 50% of course grade.
Most of the grade (75%) on the final copy will be the group grade. The other 25% will be an individual grade.
If any stages are missing, there will be no grade given on the project.
The remaining 20% of the grade will be based on exercises and short assignments from the Technical Editing textbook. Most exercises will be done in-class. I have scheduled the following textbook exercises (chapter-exercise): 2-4, 14-1, 15-1, 15-2, 15-3; 16-1, 16-3, 16-8, 17-1.
Many of the assignments for the final project are group assignments; the groups will hand in worksheets during and at the end of the project detailing the work of each group member.
Turner, Cynthia L.
Weyant, Jacob B.
Eckels, Kristin A.
Pashaei, Fatima H.
Spencer, Carolyn M.
Tucker, Jennifer K.
Arsala, Humera A.
Fulton, Joy G.
Igoe, Jennifer M.
Attendance: I will not take attendance, but if you miss class you will miss several in-class assignments as well as the class discussions.
Late Assignments: Since so much of the course work is groupwork, late assignments can create serious problems. If an an individual assignment is late, it will not be accepted without prior arrangements. Missed in-class work must be made up before the next class meeting, or it will not be accepted.
Plagiarism: Plagiarism is obviously unacceptable, even if accidental. The final project for the class will make use of some existing documentation. For the early stages (summary, interview, and usability reports) you will need to clearly cite your sources. But your final document will likely have few if any citations, since you will have substantially re-written the existing documentation.