10 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2016
    1. as they write to ensure that their content isreusable” (191

      The concept of "re-usability" in technical writing is an interesting one. The concept itself seems to be an issue of plagiarism, but it is actually an important factor of strong technical writing. In political research studies, a study is deemed to be "progressive" if it builds upon a previous finding or concept, rather than reiterating it. As in political research, technical writers must do the same. In order to produce "progressive" text or media that expands the body of knowledge in a particular area, they must build upon the information that has already been presented by others. In failing to do so, they are only repeating already-known information and not increasing usability or information on a subject. Thus, re-usable technical writing is vital to the continuation of strong technical communication.

    2. and us-ing boilerplates

      Boilerplates are an interesting and overlooked way that text is re-used in work settings in ways that would fall outside the parameters of traditional ideas about plagairism. A real-world example of a boilerplate would be sample bequest language. Oftentimes, nonprofit organizations will include sample bequest language that can be copied verbatim when an individuals makes a bequest in their last will and testament. It is extremely common to see identical sample bequest language in different sources, but it is accepted as text that is standard enough to be directly copied. There is no stated author or copyright on this form of boilerplate language. The challenge for students and technical communicators is in determining which texts are accepted as standard, especially outside of legal texts like bequest language.

    3. the “rules” that students have learned about plagia-rism.

      Here is an infographic that displays some of the guidelines that students are taught to follow in order to not plagiarize. A major problem displayed in the infographic is the fact that there is no reference to copyright and intellectual property laws, or the fair use doctrine. Instead, it is ingrained in the minds of students that they should avoid plagiarism, "cherry picking," and "copycatting" at all costs. http://thevisualcommunicationguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Infographic_Did-I-Plagiarize1.jpg

    4. We need to help students to distinguishbetween intellectual “theft” and common and ethical com-posing practices in the workplace by talking more explic-itly about the gray areas that exist between original com-position, plagiarism, copying, and reusing text inprofessional contexts

      In order for students to understand ethical practices that involve reusing others' work, they need to understand the fair use doctrine. In Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects, the authors describe "fair use" as a doctrine that allows individuals to use excerpts of authors' work without permission under certain circumstances. If the author using others' work is doing so for educational purposes, which is the case in students' work, it is typically determined to be fair use. However, one must also consider whether the copyrighted work being used is factual, how much is being used, and how widely distributed the new use of the copyrighted work may be. The closer a text utilizing others' work follows these criteria, the more likely it is to be declared as fair use.

      Arola, C. (2014). Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects.

    5. tudent writers move toward membership ofa discourse community by using other writers’ texts anddrawing from multiple voices, demonstrating the type ofintertextuality that rhetorical theorist Bakhtin (1986) recog-nizes as inherent to language

      In Wickman's "Wicked Problems in Technical Communication", the author discusses the importance of students collaborating in order to tackle the "wicked problem" of the Gulf Oil Spill. In that context, the collaboration was helpful because students came from a variety of disciplines. Here, student writers enter a "discourse community" within a single area of study, but the general benefit applies. Although a student might using resources centered on a single topic, they would still come from a variety of viewpoints and research paradigms. For example, one author may have focused on positivist, quantitative research, while another may have focused on anti-positivist, qualitative research, which would produce different results, despite focusing on the same subject.

      Wickman, C. (2014). Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, 44(1), 23-42.

    6. This definition reveals that many, if not most, acts ofwriting in the workplace may not belong to them as authors.This shift of authorship from the individual to the organizationno doubt supports acts of copying and re-use common inthose settings, and, of course, further complicates no-tions of plagiarism in the workplace.

      As noted in Herrington's "Copyright, Free Speech, and Democracy", there are other implications for technical communicators when authorship is determined to be an employer and not an individual. She notes that in cases of corporate authorship, the work is not granted the same copyright protections as work produced by individuals (in the legal sense, as corporation-authored work is often created by individuals too). In this case, a technical writer working for an employer would not be able to make copyright or authorship claims for his or her work, as the employer has the final say over content and modes of production.

      Herrington, TyAnna. "Copyright, Free Speech, and Democracy: Eldred v. Ashcroft and Its Implications for Technical Communicators." Technical Communication Quarterly 20.1 (2011): 47-72. Web.

    7. Rather, I contend thatmore nuanced understandings of textual ownership and au-thorship will help students, particularly advanced technicalcommunication students, to make more seamless transitionsinto the workplace setting.

      A tool to help students understand sharing and "nuanced understandings of technical ownership" could potentially be the use of the Creative Commons, as described in Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. In using the Creative Commons, students can practice curating texts and documents that derive from a variety of sources, without having to adhere to fair use doctrine and copyright rules. According to their website, the Creative Commons unlocks the "full potential of the internet to drive a new era of development, growth and productivity," which falls in line with general goals of technical communicators. In using the Creative Commons as a learning tool, students can become comfortable with the non-linear, collaborative techniques utilized in technical communication and workplace settings. It would also prepare students for when they are required to adhere to the fair use doctrine, as they would already be well-versed in re-using media and texts. For more on the Creative Commons, visit their website here: https://creativecommons.org/

      Arola, C. (2014). Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects.

    8. Single sourcing, then, complicates the writing process,and subsequently the role of the writer as author, in newand challenging ways. As single sourcing relies on a morenuanced notion of audience, content, and form, it alsonecessarily relies on a complex understanding of author-ship, ownership, and textual production and use.

      Whether done in a group or alone, single sourcing positions the writer as not only an author, but as a content manager. Technical communicators must work as content managers to not only present text in a way that best addresses a rhetorical situation, but to also creatively organize and manage content to effectively fit within several documents simultaneously. Technical communicators must consider which information should be emphasized or understated, and what kinds of content are best suited for certain modes and mediums.

    9. suchdiscussions are presented separately from discussions ofplagiarism. Discussing such legal affordances, in thecontext of discussions about plagiarism, could help stu-dents to recognize the ways in which the legality ofcopying is context-specific, dependent on the terms of agiven circumstance of copying and re-use.

      I believe this is central to helping students understand plagiarism. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, students are taught to fear plagiarism above all else. Because fear of plagiarism is so instilled in students, it becomes difficult for them to transition from an academic setting to the workplace, especially when they engage in technical communication. One of the most effective concepts within modern technical communication is the collaborative, "re-using," and re-purposing approach that contrasts academic writing. Discussing plagiarism as a part of a larger conversation about copyright, authorship and fair use would allow students to better understand why it is so important for authors to be given credit for their work as well as how fair use doctrine can aid in the creation of multimodal, effective technical documents and media.

    10. I am attempting to bring to light the gray areas thatexist between what is considered “plagiarism” and therange of composing activities that require the copying andre-use of existing materials in the workplace.

      I like that Reyman noted that certain activities in technical "require" copying and re-use of previous work. In terms of research papers, good resources give a paper credibility and strengthen an argument. For technical communicators, using and re-purposing existing materials creates rhetorically stronger and better informed content. For example, when technical communicators create documents in order to increase product usability, they can reference and build upon the work of previous technical communicators. At the same time, they can use previous work to identify weaknesses that have led to poor usability, thus ensuring that their work is the best possible route towards increased usability.