If you are a technical writer and you join a professional associations such as the Society of Technical Communicators you will need to be aware their codes of ethics, published online (e.g., http://www.stc.org/about-stc/ethical-principles). The National Whistle Blower center is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that has many resources available for individuals who may be faced with the difficult situation of doing the right thing (https://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php). Learn about liability concerns (https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.productliabilityprevention.com/images/6-LegallyAdequateWarningLabelsAConundrumforEveryManufacturer.pdf&sa=D&ust=1553803200010000) and relevant international product liabilities (https://corporate.findlaw.com/litigation-disputes/international-product-liability-laws.html) before you publish your manual. It may be easier to mind our own businesses and keep quiet, but really the only right thing to do is to stand up, and speak up, for what is right. Or when a Bill is being voted on if the package isn’t examined for potential problems and run through analysis and regressions to determine the outcome and if it is economically feasible and replicable in all the states then it is poor technical writing. However, that would cost the company more money, and may affect profit margins, result in slower growth, and provide fewer jobs for the locals. I can write on any given topic about any industry. In legal decisions, discovery is incredibly important. Chapter 3: Team Work and Collaborative Writing. Their feelings and livelihood must be considered with every appropriate document you create. One of the main reasons a company gets involved in a lawsuit is because the directions to the company’s product were not clear to the consumer. Qualities of good technical writing with examples 49,996 views. First and foremost, to prevent unethical behavior there needs to be a code of conduct represented in any form of business. There are a few issues that may come up when researching a topic for the business or technical world that a writer must consider. An even more common ethics violation results from the person who designs the information mistakenly believing that they are presenting evidence objectively, without recognizing their own bias in how they presented that information. Any written document in your own company is copyrighted by law once produced. Most ethics violations in technical writing are (probably) unintentional, but they are still ethics violations. Research shows bringing in an outside expert, someone who is unfamiliar with the company and the stakeholders, has the potential to impact the greatest change. So here are some examples of technical documents that you might be expected to write as a technical writer: User guides; Installation Guides Search for: Photos and Illustrations. Are open web sources just as valid as academic sources for certain topics? When writers present information visually, however, they have to be careful not to misrepresent or misreport the complete picture. Individuals can behave unethically, as can businesses, professionals and politicians. You need to be extra vigilant to avoid misleading your readers with graphics. An express warranty is a clearly written or oral statement that the product of what a product is capable of. Liability and contract laws can vary by country. You cannot just slap a URL under a picture, but rather you need to give full credit with an appropriate citation. Students, but more importantly, people like you provide me a sense of promise for our world. For example, use a salutation like “Dear Ms. X” (external) or “Hi Barry” (internal). Traditional technical writing 3. How a writer presents information in a document can affect a reader’s understanding of the relative weight or seriousness of that information. The chapter provides some practical information on how to make sure your writing is ethical and how to handle ethical dilemmas along with possible legal issues in the workplace. Patents and trademarks are company names (WalMart), logos (the Target bullseye), processes or slogans (McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it”) that belong to a person or company. Downplaying negative side effects of a product. Public opinion of a company affects a consumer’s views on that company’s products. But if a close friend or a relative was in the same danger, you may be more likely to put yourself in harm’s way to protect your friend. With a greater recognition now that writing is a critical part of engineering professionals’ jobs, universities and technical schools are incorporating more writing courses, and for experienced professionals, there are many courses available for improving their writing skills. Published in: Education, Business. 1. The third helpful way to bring your company’s unethical practices to the surface is to remain open to other’s ideas. If you plan on selling wares internationally, account for various regional requirements. Contents. If you base your concerns on evidence, your company will assume you looked into the situation and will take your thoughts more seriously. How the packaging is done and what is on the accompanying fliers or material can be part of this. 1.2 Cultural Diversity and Technical Communication, 2.4 Adapt Your Writing to Meet Your Audience’s Needs, 4.7 Ethics, Plagiarism, and Reliable Sources, 5.9 Cross-Cultural Audience Considerations, 5.10 Additional Document Design Resources, 7.6 Sample Student Job Packet (see proper student attribution), 8.9 Activity – Sample Technical Instructions Analysis, 9.8 Proposal Example (Internal, Solicited, Unknown Solution), 10.5 Creating Interview and Survey Questions, 11.6 Revision Checklist for Analytical Reports, 11.9 Sub-genre: Internship and Co-op Reports, Driving Motor with an Ultrasonic Sensor: An Arduino Project, How to Create a PID DC Motor Position Controller, Technical and Professional Writing Genres [Beta], http://www.stc.org/about-stc/ethical-principles, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias, https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/licensing-types-examples/, The United States Patent and Trademark Office, https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html, “from the intended or unintended but reasonably foreseeable use of its products.”, https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.productliabilityprevention.com/images/6-LegallyAdequateWarningLabelsAConundrumforEveryManufacturer.pdf&sa=D&ust=1553803200010000, https://corporate.findlaw.com/litigation-disputes/international-product-liability-laws.html, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The audience may find out too late that what you wrote only benefited you and actually hurt them. The most common examples of technical writing are: User manuals software installation guides Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Service Level Agreements (SLA) Request for Proposal (RFP) legal disclaimers; company documents annual reports and Help files. End user documentation 2. In a technical report that contains research, a writer might discover conflicting data which does not support the project’s goal. Examples of Unethical Behavior Unethical behavior is an action that falls outside of what is considered morally right or proper for a person, a profession or an industry. Technical writing is more than just writing manuals on how to use or repair your TV. With a stranger, your calculations may include how the stranger might respond to the interruption, and both of you may feel some embarrassment in the exchange. For example, if you witnessed a stranger attacking someone you do not know on a crowded street, you may be afraid to interfere because you could be injured in the event. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. What was it used for? Presenting data in graphical form can be especially challenging. If you fail to incorporate all of the doctor reports in a workers compensation claim then you could quickly be called into court, your poor writing was unethical. But in this context, it means the detailed discussion of the physical aspects of a thing. In almost every field, there are legal and professional consequences for committing unethical behavior, and often remaining silent about corrupt conduct—whether the action are yours or a colleague’s—can implicate you as well. I will need my technical writing tool, a tool for making screenshots and videos. Lying about experience / Exaggerating credentials on a resume. Ethics principles provide the basis for deciding whether “x” is ethical, but in reality, ethical issues are complicated—for example, imagine working for a large company that employs substantial numbers of people in your town, where relatively few other employment opportunities exist. You would not want someone else taking credit for your ideas. Well, first, let’s review the 5 most common unethical behaviors according to the Ethics Resource Center. Be cautious when using figures, charts and tables, making sure they visually represent quantities with accuracy and honesty. This particular article did not state any companies that have been convicted, but have informed that such actions do take place. Some dangers may seem to be common knowledge, but companies should be aware of those and label the product accordingly, regardless of assumptions about common knowledge. Contract Law is an agreement between two entities. Then you can apply the information from your source(s) to your specific task or proposal. When a company is involved in a lawsuit or a recall, the company has to consider the consequences that these issues will have on their business and needs to consider the costs of repairing the company’s reputation. The trashcan in my classroom caught on fire last week. As always, consult a lawyer for specific information on how to construct warnings. No good in unethical writing habits. This law extends beyond the major companies.  Graphics will usually be the first thing a reader notices about your document; if a reader finds your graphics misleading, your entire document may be called into question. Including an item only in the source list at the end suggests you have used the source in the report, but if you have not cited this source in the text as well, you could be seen as misleading the reader. Graphics created by the federal government, say from the National Park Service, or the FDA, or the EPA, are not under copyright, and therefore can be used without having to go through the sometimes-onerous process of securing permissions. In Revolutionary writings the technicality of it is incredibly important. 10 Unethical Famous Examples #1: Enron The energy company's bankruptcy in 2001 after allegations of massive accounting fraud wiped out $78 billion in stock market value and led to the collapse of Arthur Andersen and the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Should they reveal this in their report or should they take other courses of action? The money spent on lawyers and the time spent in court takes away resources a company could use for improving business and products. Writing for advertisements is one example of non-technical writing. How much should a writer adapt to an audience without sacrificing their own views? Both of these examples could be considered unethical, as the display of information is crucial to how readers encounter and interpret it. Remember, you must clearly distinguish between your ideas and borrowed material; and you must use borrowed material primarily as evidence for your own, directly stated ideas. The main point is clear. Credibility can be established through many means: using appropriate professional language, citing highly respected sources, providing reliable evidence, and using sound logic. See Figure 3 below. Directly lying is unlikely to be accidental, but even in that case, the writer could rationalize and/or persuade themselves that the lie achieved some “greater good” and was therefore necessary. In the political spectrum poor technical writing is incredibly unethical. I have written for grocery store website, apparels website, tyre manufacturing company and many more. Such a practice is done by authors to increase their number of publications. Since you are employed by this parents’ group, should you leave out the medical evidence, or do you have a responsibility to include all research, even some that might sabotage the group’s goal? Make sure you properly document all sources so as not to mislead a reader. Throughout your career, you will be required to create many documents. Regardless of the copyright, you should always keep track of where you found the graphics, and for assignments for your class, you need to record the source so you can cite it. Moreover, when your writing is authentically yours, your audience will catch your enthusiasm, and you will feel more confident in the material you produce. Unlike personal or academic writing, technical and professional writing can be used to evaluate your job performance and can have implications that a writer may or may not have considered. Because economic models are based off of the ability to replicate them easily and simply, poor technical writing is unethical. With the ease of acquiring graphics on the internet, it has become ever more tempting to simply copy and paste images from a search engine. Liability Law helps companies and organizations act responsibly. The data in each is identical but the pie chart on the left presents information in a misleading way (see Figure 1). The character, purpose of use, and amount of information being used. Often, accusations are made about situations when people do not truly know the reason those decisions were being made. See chapter 10 for more information on credibility and evaluating secondary sources. I don’t know about the essay thing. The second idea Anderson describes is to use facts or reason, instead of accusation. The number of classifications and lists of technical documents is endless. It is something we may not even be aware we are doing, so it is always a good idea to have a peer or coworker proofread your documents to make sure you have not included anything that may point to discriminatory assumptions. (Some of the items are excerpts.) The technical reports are essential document […] It can determine how a case will end. Open source refers to material that is freely available for anyone to use. However, sometimes speaking up, and/or notifying authorities is the only right thing to do, as difficult as that may be. Technological marketing communications That is why it is important that when you find an element you would like to incorporate in your document, in the same moment as you copy and paste or make a note of it in your research file you need to note the source in a complete enough form to find it again. Internalizing your ethics in such a manner will certainly make you a more ethical writer. That means if you are borrowing a good idea from a friend at another company, you must cite them as a source. Similarly, take a look at the bar graphs in Figure 2 below. More than 70 percent of managers think that the most common example of unethical behavior is when employees lie to cover up a mistake they've done, or take shortcuts in work tasks. With technical writing, the focus is on providing hard facts that are backed up with verifiable information. This includes scholarly and professional research, not just from a single database or journal, for instance, but from a variety. With a strong set of ethical values, you will be better prepared to make the right decision and stick to your principles when faced with an ethical dilemma. This unethical practice essentially tricks a website buyer into thinking a website transaction is complete when, in fact, the business never gets notice of the sale, and the money is lost offshore. There is some crossover on this list with the Top 10 Evil Human Experiments. Professionalism in technical writing can be difficult to define, but I would suggest that upholding all of the previously mentioned principles is key to maintaining professionalism. However, it can sometimes be difficult to know whether or not you might unintentionally be doing something unethical. Technical writers must be aware of ethical dilemmas that could mislead readers. Technical Writing. Imagine you are researching a report for a parents’ group that wants to change the policy in the local school district requiring all students to be vaccinated. Therefore, the original owner of the material is denied a profit due to your actions. All of these concentrations have something in common. An example would be Nike and their famous swoosh symbol. Examples of Unethical Behavior; Citing Your Work Using APA Style; How to Act Ethically One of the best ways to be an ethical researcher is to choose to act in honest ways. If you fail to take careful notes, or the sentence is present in your writing but later fails to get accurate attribution, it can have a negative impact on you and your organization. European regulations are decidedly strict, and Asian laws are starting to follow suit. Errors in their development can result in unintended unethical situations. It may be used like text, or synchronous chat, and it can be delivered to a cell phone. Collecting information from multiple brokers would demonstrate thorough and unbiased research. Let us look at a few. There is a good chance that at some point in your career you will find yourself in a situation that involves unethical behavior at your workplace. The hardest part may be simply raising the issue with your co-workers and/or supervisor. There are a number of reasons why a company may face a lawsuit or a recall. Collectively, these people are called stakeholders because they have a stake in what you are writing. What do you notice about their presentation? Make sure as you start your research that you always question the credibility of the information you find. Good question. What do you notice, however, about how that information is conveyed to the reader? Module 16: Feasibility Report. Like other professionals, technical writers come up against ethical issues regularly and must make decisions about how to move forward with a project in the face of ethical dilemmas. Aim at the Grade 8 level and define technical terms in a glossary. A writer not following any of the previously listed principles would definitely be viewed as unethical and unprofessional in many senses. Without providing accurate citation information, the practice of cutting and pasting images is nothing less than plagiarism (or theft); it is unethical, and may be illegal if it violates copyright law. A company uses a ™ to show something is trademarked or an ® for something registered with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. Misuse of company time. This unethical practice essentially tricks a website buyer into thinking a website transaction is complete when, in fact, the business never gets notice of the sale, and the money is lost offshore. In a technical report that contains research, a writer might discover conflicting data that does not support the project’s goal. This means that any document from memos and emails to proposals and studies can be subject to revision by a court of law. 10+ Technical Report Writing Examples – PDF Being able to write with finesse and conciseness is an advantageous skill to anyone who has it. You collect a handful of sources that support the group’s goal, but then you discover convincing medical evidence that indicates vaccines do more good than potential harm in society. As you put together professional documents and begin working in the “real” world, you must understand what could easily lead to your downfall in your professional workplace. However, nothing is ever easy when it comes to ethical dilemmas. For example, if you take an item that would cost money to buy and copy it for other people, you are affecting the market for that product since the people you give it to will now not have to purchase it themselves. Up to this point, you have probably been thinking about technical writing in relation to communicating technical information clearly in an accessible format that meets the needs of its audience. If they fail to do so then their ruling could be seen as unethical because it was a hasty decision. To avoid safety recalls, companies need to make sure they consider every possible danger involved with a product. 11/22/2013. Safety information must also be accessible to your readers. Does your professional association’s code of conduct address this issue? Instead, you might stay back and call the police. Getting lots of links to your website helps it move up in search engine rankings. Being caught in a lawsuit has many consequences for a company. Though these are highly unethical experiments, it should be mentioned that they did pave the way to induct our current ethical standards of experiments, and that should be seen as a positive. The candidate represented by the green slice labeled “Item C,” might think that she had received more donations than the candidate represented in the blue “Item A” slice. While creation of presentations or general reports requires no specific knowledge, some technical documents are rather complicated. College is a business anyway. Professional and Technical Writing Created June 10, ... for example, is not designed to make an individual sale. It’s unethical as it wastes the time of journal reviewers, publication resources, and renders no benefit to humanity or scientific community. It is important to address these when creating documents, projects, or any other kind of medium for a business. (See chapter 10 for more on research.). The bar graph on the right, on the other hand, shows the complete picture by presenting numbers from zero to1200 on the vertical axis, and we see that the sales figures have in fact been relatively stable for the past five years. In this video Nicky Bleiel covers: What is Technical Writing?, Technical Writing Deliverables, Types of Technical Writing, Examples and Resources. EXAMPLES OF UNETHICAL WRITING1. The position of information in this document did not help them understand that the problem could be fatal. Unfortunately, examples of bad, biased, or unethical uses of AI are commonplace. Properly cite your images by providing credit to the original creator of the image with full citations. Technical writing assignments normally take one of three forms: 1. The not-for-profit organization Project Implicit (https://www.projectimplicit.net/) has been researching subconscious biases for years and has developed several, free online tests. With a greater recognition now that writing is a critical part of engineering professionals’ jobs, universities and technical schools are incorporating more writing courses, and for experienced professionals, there are many courses available for improving their writing skills. Suppressing knowledge the user/buyer needs. ( Log Out / It is easiest to first start asking questions. Technical writing widely covers various forms of application. Here are some of the most common technical writing examples: Annual Reports As a rule, companies should provide annual reports for the purpose of informing shareholders about last... Help Files In the digital world, these files are necessary for all software produces. Adequacy is almost impossible to define. In judicial rulings, Supreme Court justices write their opinions, which are very much so technical writing. Product recalls can be another legal problem for companies. An implied warranty can be reasonably inferred by the purchaser. 6 Examples of Standard Operating Procedures (with Office template) One of the easiest way to write standard operating procedures is to see how others do it. The chapter covers ethical principles, how ethics may affect the presentation of information, and some common ethical problems encountered by technical writers. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Material in this chapter was adapted from the works listed below. For example, you might tell your best friend their new haircut looks attractive when in fact you believe that it does not. There are a number of options (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/licensing-types-examples/) that a creator has in regards to how they want to set up permissions, but the idea is that these works are free for anyone to use; they are open source. Photos are used in professional documents as tools for communicating a message that a writer feels can be strengthened through the use of proper imagery. Overall, there are a few basic points to adhere to whenever you are writing a professional document: a) do not mislead, b) do not manipulate, and c) do not stereotype. Acting ethically is rarely rewarded from the outside – you are not likely to be congratulated by your boss and co-workers for passing on an opportunity to undermine the competition in an unethical manner. It is not only ethical to follow these rules, it is an enforced law. The legal consequences are most notable when one considers writing in the professional world. Summary. Imagine that these pie charts represented donations received by four candidates for city council. In either case, weighing the costs, and having a strong value system would help you feel like you did the right thing, especially upon reflection after the event. Third, if possible, ask permission to use another person’s work. Only the copyright holder, the person/organization who owns the protected item, can copy it. Technical writing is required in every field in order to ensure that that field is acting ethically by communicating information clearly and accurately to the appropriate audiences in a way that it is replicable in its understanding and theories. The intention may be good, but breaching ethics results in a slippery slope – one that often leads to further and larger ethical breaches. You probably think about technical writing in relation to communicating technical information clearly in an accessible format that meets the needs of its audience. For example, your small company continues to have problems with employee morale. Professional documents can serve as evidence in disputes over contracts and in product liability lawsuits. Just as you have a responsibility in business to be honest in selling your product or service and avoid cheating your customers, so you have a responsibility in business writing to be honest in presenting your idea, and the ideas of others, and to avoid cheating your readers with plagiarized material. Introduction to Technical Writing Mutia Rachmawati Mindtalk: @apfelwein email@example.com 2. In many workplaces, the culture is influenced by the attitudes and behavior of those in management positions. Not being the most technical savvy professor on campus, I didn't exactly know how to use it, so I resorted to reading the instructions. If these people fail to appropriately describe all measures which were taken in disseminating the information then it could quickly become unethical. Hiding conflicts of interest . In the political spectrum poor technical writing is incredibly unethical. Summary. Can the information be verified by other sources? Does your company’s code of conduct address this issue? You give me hope. Your goal is to maintain and enhance your credibility, and that of your organization, at all times. Though, there are times when it is caught and action is taken. Many organizations and employers have a corporate code of ethics. Documentation should prepare readers to safely use the product. While both technical and non-technical writing has a goal of informing readers, the type of information provided is different. Keep in mind the importance of providing appropriate context and perspective as you prepare your graphics. If your actions cannot stand up to that scrutiny, you might reconsider them. 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