[Academic-discuss] new to Academic SIG - question

Thomas Barker ttbarker at ualberta.ca
Sun Jul 15 22:48:02 UTC 2018


My guess, Paula, is that you're experiencing writing for different
purposes.  Academic writing for publication in scholarly journals is
necessarily self-reflexive and conscious of precision in diction, and
creating  and supporting academic arguments.  It's points are made though
repetition and explication of ideas.  Instructional writing (using commands
and direct address) often sounds much more conversational and natural.
Articles, especially those that support tasks) tend to be conversational
and engaging, like marketing or promotional writing.  Well written
scholarly articles are not in that style because the writers are in an
academic rut.

I hope this helps.

Tom

On Sun, Jul 15, 2018 at 12:48 PM, FineLines via Academic-discuss <
academic-discuss at mailer.stc.org> wrote:

> Hello academic types!  I am definitely not “one of you”…
>
>
>
> that is, I’ve never trained for nor worked in education, until three years
> ago when I took a job as Sr. Editor (Programs) with Project Lead The Way (
> pltw.org). We produce curriculum for pre-K through 12 in the STEM
> subjects, specifically Engineering, Computer Science, and Biomedical
> Science. I’m the first real, professional editor to look at their content,
> which previously got only copyedit from a contractor if anything.
> Astonishing, right? Hm, maybe I shouldn’t have identified my company…
>
>
>
> While a large part of editing is *editing*, regardless of the subject
> matter, I came up against a mindset that’s foreign to me. (My experience is
> largely in user doc for software.) And I often sense an attitude that
> conveys, “You’re not one of us. You don’t need to know xxx.”
>
>
>
> I have always contended that the editor is not a commodity whose services
> get tacked on at the end. The editor should be part of the content
> writing/development team and have the opportunity to give input throughout
> the process. The editor (or this editor) has certain expertise and can add
> value that no one else can. At least that’s the way I was trained. I’ve
> made little headway in getting this point across to anyone and am almost
> resigned to the fact that this is how I’m going to spend the rest of my
> career – being undervalued, not considered a part of the team, with my
> “arguments” unabsorbed.
>
>
>
> OK, you can respond to that part if you like, but my real question for you
> is this:  Why do academics/educators insist on writing—regardless of
> audience demographics—in the same style they were required to write for
> their dissertations and the like?  I get that you were trained to write
> that way through the course of your training (actually we all were, those
> of us who are around my age), but why is there such a disconnect when it
> comes to writing something instructional to teachers and students?
>
>
>
> Have the ideas of “people first”, active voice, “less (words) is more”,
> and “plain or universal English” just not pierced your professional ranks?
> These “tenets” have long been part of technical writing best practices.  So
> I struggle with how we seem to be so far apart from each other in writing
> style for a lay audience.  The academics I’m talking about are those I work
> with (don’t mean to point the finger at anyone here), but I’m hoping you
> can give me a little insight into why this is the case.  Granted, none of
> my colleagues were trained to write using the best practices of tech com,
> rather they probably didn’t get *any* training in how to write (except by
> example)!
>
>
>
> When I came on board, I quickly noticed the stiff, wordy, formal language
> and have been rewriting it ever since. I’ve created numerous job aids—some
> requested, but most at my own initiative—to help steer the writers, but I
> see little evidence that anybody even refers to these resources.  I can’t
> make the horse drink.  Can you tell I’m really discouraged?  I believe they
> think of me as the “fixer” and if subconsciously, make no effort to change
> their *behavior* because I’ll suggest all those types of changes.
> (There’s always the excuse that timelines are too tight, which is the fault
> of management…)  Sorry I’ve gotten off on a tangent.
>
>
>
> So back to my main question, do you have any idea why education has not
> really adopted the best practices of tech com?? (although it’s in the
> Standards for the students to learn!)
>
>
>
> Thanks for listening.  Maybe we can stir up some discussion, as I’ve heard
> nothing from or about this SIG since I joined.  How many members are
> there?  Is this SIG in danger of being shut down?
>
>
>
> Feeling defeated,
>
>
>
> Paula Robertson,* STC Associate Fellow*
>
> dba FineLines
>
> Technical Editor, Writer, Designer
>
> www.linkedin.com/in/paularobertsonfinelines
>
> 682.234.5367
>
>
>
> *You have no idea what it's like to be a "just between you and me" person
> in a "just between you and I" world.*
>
> – William Haefeli, *The New Yorker* 8/30/2010
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Academic-discuss mailing list
> Academic-discuss at mailer.stc.org
> http://mailer.stc.org/mailman/listinfo/academic-discuss
>
>


-- 
Thomas Barker, Professor
Communications and Technology Graduate Program,
   Faculty of Extension
Writing Studies Program, Faculty of Arts
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB Canada
Email: ttbarker at ualberta.ca
Website: https://sites.google.com/a/ualberta.ca/barker/
Principal Investigator, Healthy Workplaces for Helping Professions
<http://hwhp.ca> Project
<http:////hwhp.ca>
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