Citation
A comprehensive framework for ethics discourse in technical communication

Material Information

Title:
A comprehensive framework for ethics discourse in technical communication
Creator:
Wegner, Katherine Ruhmkorff
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
x, 159 leaves : illustrations ; 29 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Communication of technical information -- Moral and ethical aspects ( lcsh )
Communication of technical information -- Moral and ethical aspects ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Thesis:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Science, Technical Communication
General Note:
Department of Communication
Statement of Responsibility:
Katherine Ruhmkorff Wegner.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
29150204 ( OCLC )
ocm29150204
Classification:
LD1190.L67 1993m .W429 ( lcc )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
A COMPREHENSIVE FRAMEWORK FOR ETHICS DISCOURSE
IN TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION
by
Katherine Ruhmkorff Wegner
B.F.A., Wittenberg University, 1979
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
, University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science
Technical Communication
1993
r* * ***;
. 9 t


(c)1992 by Katherine Ruhmkorff Wegner
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Master of Science
degree by
Katherine Ruhmkorff Wegner
has been approved for the
Department of
English
by


Wegner, Katherine Ruhmkorff (M.S., Technical Communication)
A Comprehensive Framework for Ethics Discourse in Technical
Communication
Thesis directed by Associate Professor James F. Stratman
ABSTRACT
This study determined the need for a framework for structuring and
evaluating research and for advancing ethics discourse for technical
communication. The study proposed a framework, categorized ethics
literature using the framework, and used the categorizations to identify
meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication.
A literature review of ethics scholarship in three related fields,
technical communication, business communication, and speech communica-
tion, highlighted the benefits of a framework. A review of the Society for
Technical Communications Anthology Series: Technical Communication and
Ethics along with the literature review of ethics scholarship, demonstrated
the weaknesses of ethics discourse in technical communication.
A framework comprising seven categories was developed based upon
Michael Bayles Professional Ethics. Three sets of materials were
categorized using the framework: (1) articles from professional journals
which were identified using manual and computerized database searches;
(2) codes of ethics from four professional writing associations; and (3) ethics
case studies from the Society for Technical Communications member
IV


newsletter. Conducting a reliability test validated the categorization
procedure.
Results of the categorizations revealed weaknesses in the material
on ethics for technical communication. For example, there is a need for
research which explores ethics problems that technical communication
employees experience with their employers. The weaknesses in the material
demonstrate a critical need for the profession to engage in ongoing
discourse about ethics.
Study conclusions include the finding that the Ethics Framework
does provide a comprehensive framework for structuring and evaluating
research, one which can advance ethics discourse in technical communica-
tion. The Ethics Framework is a preliminary effort and needs further
modification and refinement to best serve technical communication.
Meaningful research issues identified include the need to expand
the focus of ethics case study material available to technical communicators.
All case studies fell into one category of the Framework. The focus of
research also needs to be expanded since over one-third of the collected
articles fell into just one of the seven categories in the Ethics Framework.
The STC Code for Communicators needs to be enhanced. A method for
generating ethics research and incorporating research results into the Code
also needs to be developed.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis.
I recommend its publication.
Signed
James F. Stratman
v


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to thank Professor James Stratman of the University
of Colorado at Denver Department of English for his patience and
expert advice throughout the two years it took to complete this thesis.
Professors Charles Beck and Mark Yarborough also gave valuable
guidance.
My team of independent judges, Karen Rabin, Dan Seavert, and
Vikki Williams, gave hours of their free time categorizing articles for
the reliability test. I tremendously appreciate their willingness to
participate.
I would like to thank Steve Turner of the Math Department of
University of Colorado at Denver for his work on the statistical test
assessing the reliability of the categories. Jane Venohr was of invalu-
able assistance in writing up the description of the reliability test.
Michelle Hayes did an expert job creating the graphic representation of
the Ethics Framework.
And finally, I want to thank my husband, Keith, for two years of
support and good humor while I spent most of my free time turning this
project into an acceptable thesis. His belief that I should take the time
to make it a project of which I could be proud means a great deal.
vi


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..........................................1
Why Is a Comprehensive Framework Important?...........2
Problems in Recent Scholarship on Ethics
and Technical Communication...........................4
Need for Ongoing Discourse .....................6
Need to Connect With Ethics Scholarship
in Other Fields ................................7
Need for Consistency and Quality
in Technical Communication Ethics Scholarship...8
Previous Literature Reviews of Ethics Scholarship in
Related Disciplines and in Technical Communication....9
Developing a Framework for Ethics in
Technical Communication ............................ 14
Outline of the Remainder of the Thesis.............. 17
2. METHODOLOGY......................................... 18
Bayles Professional Ethics as a Comprehensive Framework
for Advancing Discourse in Ethics for
Technical Communication ............................ 18
Testing the Framework and Identifying Meaningful
Research Issues in Technical Communication...........28
Conducting Comprehensive Literature Searches.........30
Ethics Literature Search .................... 31
vii


Professional Issues Literature Search
33
Categorizing the Articles ...............................35
Assessing the Reliability of the Categories..............37
Categorizing Ethics Cases from Intercom .................40
Categorizing the Codes of Ethics.........................41
3. RESULTS OF THE STUDY AND DISCUSSION......................43
Results and Discussion of Categorizations Into
the Ethics Framework ....................................46
Results and Discussion of Categorizing
Codes of Ethics....................................46
Results and Discussion of Categorizing
Ethics Cases in Intercom ..........................51
Results and Discussion of Categorizing
Articles...........................................54
Comparison of Categorizations of the Codes,
Case Studies, and Articles ............................. 59
Discrepancies Between Codes and Case Studies......60
Discrepancies Between Codes and Articles ..........65
Discrepancies Between Articles and Case Studies .... 74
Summary................................................. 75
4. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS..........................78
Conclusions from Exploratory Research....................79
vm


The Ethics Framework
79
Research Issues in Ethics for
Technical Communication........................ 82
APPENDIX
A. The Ethics Framework................................. 86
B. Validation Procedure and Coding Sheets .............. 89
C. Codes of Ethics..................................... 123
D. Categorization of Code Statements................... 136
BIBLIOGRAPHY
154


TABLES
Table
1. Theoretical Probability and Expected Value
of the Event Occurring Based on
Binomial Distribution .......................................39
2. Observed Outcome ............................................40
3. Categorizations of Codes of Ethics.......................... 46
4. Categorizations of Published Articles........................55
5. Areas of Discrepancy Between Articles, Code Statements,
and Case Studies.............................................59


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
As technical communication evolves as a profession, we have an
obligation to develop our understanding of professional ethics. To
develop this understanding, we first need to create a fruitful environ-
ment in which scholars can define research issues and then study and
debate those issues.
My goal in this study is to contribute to creating such an
environment by answering two questions:
1. Why does technical communication need a comprehensive
framework for structuring and evaluating research and discussion
of ethics?
2. Can a comprehensive framework help us identify important
research issues in ethics for technical communication?
In the rest of Chapter 1,1 discuss the importance of a framework. I
then review two sets of materials: 1) STCs Anthology Series: Technical
Communication and Ethics which contains representative published
articles in ethics and technical communication and 2) three reviews of
ethics scholarship, one from the field of business communication, one
from speech communication, and the third from technical
communication. The review of the anthology and the technical
communication ethics literature review will demonstrate that ethics
scholarship in technical communication is scattered and lacking in
substance and direction. In addition, the ethics literature reviews of the
1


related fields of business communication and speech communication
demonstrate the quality of scholarship possible if undertaken in the
context of a framework. I then offer a comprehensive framework that I
believe advances ethics discourse in technical communication.
Why Is a Comprehensive Framework Important?
A comprehensive framework "can provide a frame of reference,
a way of looking at a subject. ... It generally provides a classification of
and common language for a subject area; [and] facilitates education
about that subject area" (Turner, 1971, p. 20). A framework can help
us define important research issues, debate important questions, and
develop a coherent understanding of the subject of ethics for technical
communication.
Three articles in which the authors use rhetorical theory as a
framework to examine communication ethics (Clark, 1987; Griffin,
1980/1989; Kallendorf & Kallendorf, 1989) demonstrate how a
framework can contribute to ethics scholarship. These authors examine
ethical implications in the communication relationships between
individuals or groups. Such examination has led Kallendorf and
Kallendorf (1989) to apply Aristotles concepts of ethos, logos, and
pathos to business communication decisions as a way of developing
ethical positions in business communication dilemmas. In another
application of rhetorical theory, Clark proposes a rhetorical framework
for ethics for technical communication that "places at the center of
concern the well-being of all the people who must interact in the
process of sharing technical information, the one community to which
all participants in the process of communication belong and are
2


responsible" (1987, p. 194). In the third example, Griffin (1980/1989)
explores how rhetorical choices can become ethical choices in certain
types of writing, particularly in writing that demands a rhetorical
commitment to roles. A commitment to roles, for example, occurs in
writing in which an expert gives advice to a non-expert.
These three articles develop the common theme that
communicators have a responsibility for their communication choices
since those choices affect others. In the authors work, rhetorical theory
provides a framework for identifying ethical issues for technical
communicators, especially the communicators responsibility in
relationship to others. However, while this is an exciting and creative
use of rhetorical theory, it does not go far enough. It does not provide
the comprehensive framework we need.
The authors do make various recommendations about how to
use rhetorical theory. Clark (1987) describes an approach of
cooperative dialogue among participants in a given setting; Griffin
(1980/1989) describes how a writer should make a rhetorical commit-
ment to a role; and Kallendorf and Kallendorf (1989) describe their
model for making business communication decisions using Aristotles
concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos. However, all of these discussions
are broad; and while the authors use concrete examples, they do not
provide much instruction for putting their concepts to practical use
beyond their examples. In addition, they do not define concrete
methods for dealing with other practical ethical dilemmas experienced
by professional technical communicators. For instance, these applica-
tions of rhetorical theory do not address how an employee decides what
to do if her employer requests that she write misleading material. In
3


this situation, the hapless employee faces many conflicts. One conflict,
of course, comes from the writers responsibility to her audience, which
the rhetorical theory approaches do address. Other conflicts arise from
the employees responsibility to obey the employers authority and from
her obligation to behave in a manner that brings dignity to her profes-
sion. (For instance, lying is not usually considered acceptable
professional behavior.) These other conflicts do not seem readily
solvable using the rhetorical theory approaches described above.
Even with such shortcomings, these articles on rhetorical theory
and ethics demonstrate good scholarship in technical communication
and ethics. Unfortunately, there is not a preponderance of such good
scholarship. In the next section I examine an anthology of recent
scholarship in technical communication and ethics, and a literature
review of scholarship in ethics for technical communication. This
examination reveals the shortcomings of scholarship in ethics research
in technical communication. We may view these shortcomings as
symptoms of the need for a framework to guide research in ethics for
technical communication.
Problems in Recent Scholarship on
Ethics and Technical Communication
In 1989, the STC published an anthology on technical
communication and ethics. In this anthology, the editors collected
articles from professional journals and conference proceedings that con-
tribute to the professional discussion of ethics and technical
communication. The articles span a 10-year range and come from two
professional journals (Technical Communication and The Journal of
4


Technical Writing and Communication) and three professional
conference proceedings (the International Technical Communication
Conference, the American Business Communication Association
Conference, and the Conference on College Composition and Commu-
nication). This anthology represents the best scholarship that had been
published up to 1989, though there have been some notable articles
published subsequently (Kallendorf & Kallendorf, 1989; Sudul &
Stoner, 1990), and in related journals other than those represented in
the anthology (Clark, 1987). This anthology contains many of the early
articles on technical communication and ethics from Technical
Communication which later articles cite. We may say, therefore, that
this anthology represents the most comprehensive collection of recent
scholarship in ethics and technical communication.
However, this scholarship suffers shortcomings which are
highlighted by the articles collected in the anthology. As Walzer (1989)
points out in an article written for the anthology,
Complex moral sensibility . can only be honed by
confronting and discussing difficult questions of ethics. The
Society has provided many fora for such debate, of which this
anthology is the latest. But, with a few exceptions . that
debate has so far tended to move too cavalierly from exhorta-
tions on the importance of ethics to a consideration of particular
examples, without due consideration of the mediating questions
concerning the motives, purposes, goals, and efficacy of ethics
and of ethics codes, (pp. 104-105)
I have identified shortcomings in the scholarship which are detailed
below:
1. An ongoing discourse does not exist which addresses issues
central to the topic, such as a technical writers responsibility to
5


the client or employer versus the writers responsibility to the
audience when these are different entities, or the connection
between technical communication and truth.
2. The scholarship in ethics and technical communication is isolated
from related fields, such as business communication ethics, which
might offer useful information.
3. The quality of the scholarship in ethics and technical communi-
cation is too inconsistent.
Need for Ongoing Discourse
Ongoing discourse in research and scholarship can refine
knowledge, test theory, and generally contribute to the maturation of an
area of inquiry. Three articles from Technical Communications Special
Section on Ethics in 1980, reprinted in the 1989 anthology, demonstrate
the lack of ongoing discourse addressing issues central to technical
communication and ethics. These articles treat ethics as split into three
areas: moral, professional, and legal (Radez, 1980/1989; Sachs,
1980/1989; Shimberg, 1980/1989). They debate how to define ethics
for technical communicators, and which of the definitions should hold
sway. They offer no reliable definition, yet in subsequent articles (some
not included in the anthology), authors either accept the definitions
without question (Clark, 1987; Michaelson, 1990), or ignore them
(Walzer, 1989). Whether the definitions are valid, and why, has not
been addressed anywhere in the literature beyond these initial three
articles. A comprehensive framework would provide a consistent
vocabulary and a conceptual structure for researchers to use in
discourse with others who share their interests and concerns.
6


Need to Connect with Ethics Scholarship in Other Fields
The newly developing discipline of technical communication is
related to other communication fields such as business communication.
Rather than create ethics knowledge in isolation, technical communi-
cation could look to those related disciplines for useful information.
And that happens more frequently in some areas of technical commu-
nication scholarship, namely in rhetoric and linguistic studies. However,
we do not see much evidence of cross-disciplinary research in ethics for
technical communication. For instance, Reinsch and Lewis have
conducted a number of studies in the area of ethics and business
communication (Lewis, 1985, 1989; Lewis & Reinsch, 1981/1989, 1983;
Lewis & Timmerman, 1985; Lewis & Williams, 1976; Reinsch, 1990).
Even given the difference between technical communication and
business communication, at least some of the information available
through these studies could be useful to technical communication.
Certainly the careful research methodologies the researchers employ
would be helpful models for technical communicators who wish to
conduct meaningful research in this area. Yet the anthology, which
contains one of Reinsch and Lewis articles, does not list any other
work by either author in the selected bibliography. Consequently, the
search becomes more difficult for technical communicators who wish to
find related, pertinent studies on which to build. Technical
communication, though trying to develop a distinct identity, could still
benefit from the experience of older, more developed sister disciplines.
A comprehensive framework would provide language and concepts to
researchers who could search other disciplines for useful research
already conducted.
7


Need for Consistency and Quality
in Technical Communication Ethics Scholarship
The anthology contains examples of both superficial and
profound scholarship. One article, which discusses the philosophical
foundations of ethics (Wicclair & Farkas, 1984/1989), is based on
philosophies of ethics. Three articles (Radez, 1980/1989; Sachs,
1980/1989; Shimberg, 1980/1989) simply represent the authors points
of view about what constitutes ethics and what is important about the
subject, with no discernable foundation for their opinions. Rubens
(1981/1989) reviews history and current thought in his attempt to
discuss the past and future of ethics and technical communication.
Rubens argues for developing scholarship in technical communication
ethics, especially in relation to the ethics of language use. In fact, he
makes a case for using guidelines from other disciplines in order to help
keep us from reinventing the wheel. Two articles on ethics and rhetoric
are opposites on a spectrum of scholarship. Shimberg (1980/ 1989)
discusses his view of rhetoric and ethics without defining his terms or
supporting any of his arguments. On the other hand, Griffin
(1980/1989) articulates his assumptions, defines his terms, and generally
supports his thesis that there is an ethical element in the rhetoric of
expert writing, especially writing which gives advice. A comprehensive
framework would help structure research around a common
understanding of issues so that scholars could create depth in their
research.
The problems described above, lack of ongoing discourse around
central issues, not making use of information from related fields, and
the inconsistent quality of published work, might not all be solved by a
8


comprehensive framework if theoreticians and researchers dont use it.
However, a framework which allows us to identify important research
issues for ethics for technical communication would allow theoreticians
and researchers to structure their work into an on-going discourse,
thereby refining our understanding of the issues, and ultimately
improving the overall quality of published work. The ethics literature
reviews in business communication and speech communication
examined in the next section reveal the possibilities offered by
structuring research in a framework.
Previous Literature Reviews of Ethics Scholarship in
Related Disciplines and in Technical Communication
Examining literature reviews of ethics research and scholarship
in other fields provides another indication of the need for a
comprehensive framework to structure the discussion of ethics for
technical communication. Literature reviews and critiques of ethics
scholarship occur in professional journals of related disciplines (Arnett,
1987; Reinsch, 1990). In contrast, the literature of ethics for technical
communication contains little of substance by way of literature reviews
or critiques of scholarship. For the sake of comparison, lets look at
three literature reviews of ethics for three related fields: business
communication, speech communication, and technical communication.
In the business communication and speech communication examples,
Reinsch and Arnett set forth the purpose and scope of their reviews;
they detail and define categories; and they provide analysis, conclusions,
and recommendations. By providing a structure, these authors create
the possibility of discourse others can agree or disagree with the
9


structure as they see fit. They can refine, revise, or suggest something
wholly different. Both Reinsch in business communication and Arnett
in speech communication have created frameworks within which to
discuss their work.
In our first example from the field of business communication,
Reinsch (1990) conducted a literature review of ethics research.
Business communication is communication intended "to inform, to ask,
and to persuade" (Quible, Johnson, & Mott, 1981, p. 13), which takes
place "within the business environment" (Harcourt, Krizan, & Merrier,
1987, p. 3). Reinsch characterizes his work as a critical review of
publications produced by the Association for Business Communication
(ABC) for certain defined time frames. Then, in addition to reviewing
themes of articles, he categorizes the articles, and analyzes themes,
concepts, and philosophical stances contained within them. The articles
are broken into two categories -- pedagogical and non-pedagogical. In
the pedagogical category Reinsch has grouped the articles into three
subcategories based on chronology and subject. The first group
includes what he calls "early concerns" (p. 253), and showed the first
evidence of interest in ethics in the 1950s. The second group of articles
specifically recommends that undergraduate and graduate business
communication courses teach ethical use of language. The third group
of articles treats methods of teaching business communication ethics.
Reinschs non-pedagogical category also contains three groupings
of articles. The first group of articles he describes as "anecdotal
accounts of moral practices" (Reinsch, 1990, p. 261); the second group
of articles explains ethical concepts or principles; and the third group of
articles describes empirical research studies. For example, three studies
10


in the third group "assessed relationships between moral attitudes and
other aspects of business behavior" (p. 263). Reinsch concludes that the
dominant method of empirical research is an attitude and behavior
survey (p. 265).
Reinsch summarizes his work by listing issues he has culled from
the literature in both groups. For instance, he lists five issues upon
which he believes the authors in the pedagogical section agree. One
such issue is that "rhetorical practices have a moral dimension and may
be categorized as ranging from the admirable to the reprehensible"
(Reinsch, 1990, p. 256). He also lists three issues where there was
disagreement or which were left unresolved, including the issue of "how
to distinguish between good and bad moral behavior in business
communication" (p. 256). Reinschs summary continues with descriptive
analysis and critiques of the scholarship.
In the pedagogical section he describes the limits to the
pedagogical discussion. For example, he states that "a relatively large
amount of scholarly effort has been expended to defend the safe claim
that ethics should be included in business communication . while
more controversial issues have not been addressed" (Reinsch, 1990, p.
260). The non-pedagogical section receives the same treatment.
Arnett (1987) conducted a review of 70 years of speech com-
munication ethics scholarship in speech communication journals.
Speech communication is "the study of the nature, processes, and effects
of human symbolic interaction" (McBath & Jeffrey, 1978/1983, p. 13).
Arnett defined a framework for his review in which he 1) defined
communication ethics, 2) described five categories of communication
ethics, and 3) discussed the principle of communication ethics as a
11


public/private dialectic. He then continued by categorizing the articles
into five groups, three on the public side and two on the private side of
the dialectic.
On the public side of the dialectic, the first group, democratic
communication ethics, includes articles about "a public process ethic,
an open airing of diverse opinions and control by majority vote"
(Arnett, 1987, p. 46). In the second group, universal-humanitarian
ethics articles "also [seek] a public ethical posture ... a public
announcement of principles, not a public decision-making process" (p.
48). Codes, procedures, and standards make up the third group on the
public side. Articles in this group included descriptions of "rating
scales, standards, codes of ethics, procedures for argument, testing
and/or measurement of values, ethical proof, and guidelines" (p. 50).
On the private side of the dialectic, the contextual ethics articles
treat "reliance on individual discernment at the moment of decision"
(Arnett, 1987, p. 51). And, finally, the narrative ethics group treats
communication ethics with a storytelling orientation. After summa-
rizing each group, Arnett analyzed the significance for communication
studies whether the topic area of the group was likely to generate
further inquiry and new theory (narrative ethics), or was necessary for
teaching agreed-upon values (democratic ethics).
Arnetts extensive review of speech communication ethics
scholarship demonstrates the benefits of a framework. By categorizing
the articles into five groups, Arnett could conduct analyses and draw
conclusions. Both activities depend on structuring raw material for
comparison. Again, the benefit for future researchers is that analysis
and conclusions provide material for further work. For example, do
12


speech communication scholars agree with Arnetts conclusion that
"application, not new theory construction, is most likely to emerge from
[the universal/humanitarian] approach to communication ethics" (1987,
p. 50)? If not, someone who disagrees is free to debate Arnett in the
literature.
The benefit of the framework in Reinschs literature review is
that the reader gains a sense of understanding some larger research
issues in business communication ethics. Because Reinsch has catego-
rized the articles into two groups, pedagogical and non-pedagogical, he
can then conduct an analysis of articles in the groups and provide
critiques of the scholarship. To a future researcher such categorization
and analysis is grist for the mill. For instance, Reinsch limited his
review to the literature produced by one association. Would Reinschs
categorizations and conclusions hold for literature in the same subject
area but published elsewhere?
However, the best corresponding example of literature review
scholarship in technical communication ethics accomplishes none of
what Arnett and Reinsch accomplished. In the proceedings of the 36th
International Technical Communication Conference, Boyet (1989)
conducted a review of articles dealing with technical communication
and ethics over an 11-year period. She does not clarify the purpose of
the review, nor do we know any details of her literature search. The
review does not contain any analysis other than one statement that the
authors who are reviewed have not contributed to developing a code of
ethics beyond the Code for Communicators. In addition, she does not
define any organizing categories for the review. Categories defined by
subheads in the article tend to overlap. The three subheads are
13


"technical writing and ethics" (p. ET-105), "ethics: issues, kinds, and
principles" (p. ET-105), and "ethical situations in technical writing" (p.
ET-106). These subheads do little to identify unifying concepts in the
articles reviewed under them. Without clarifying the purpose and scope
of the inquiry, or providing analyses, conclusions, or recommendations,
Boyet does not encourage further scholarship in this area. The Boyet
review offers no clarifying definitions, makes no recommendations for
further work, and does not attempt to critique what has been written.
She does not even help us understand the usefulness of her effort to
begin with. Her review becomes, effectively, an annotated bibliography.
Thus, the comparison of the examples from business and speech
communication with the technical communication example shows that
technical communication lacks useful scholarship in the form of ethics
literature reviews.
Developing a Framework for Ethics in
Technical Communication
Is it possible to use either Reinschs (1990) or Arnetts (1987)
framework to identify research issues and to structure and evaluate
scholarship for ethics in technical communication? Reinschs
framework contains useful elements for technical communication, such
as the distinction between pedagogical and non-pedagogical categories
or the subcategory of ethical use of language. However, Reinsch
developed his framework using articles from only one journal in order
to describe and analyze the existing literature. While he does highlight
problem areas in his conclusions, he does not include any other
scholarship from his field. Therefore, we do not know whether those
14


problems he identified are addressed elsewhere. Nor does Reinsch
propose a comprehensive framework for ethics research in business
communication.
Arnett, on the other hand, developed his framework by
synthesizing existing scholarship in his field. Other scholars in speech
communication have worked at categorizing speech communication
ethics, and Arnett used their work and built on it. So Arnetts
framework has precedence in his field. However, the categories of
Arnetts framework bear little relationship to the issues encountered in,
or the scholarly debate on, ethics for technical communication. For
instance, Arnetts narrative ethics and democratic communication ethics
have to do with storytelling in communities and the public debate of
ideas, respectively. These topics are not primary in technical
communication scholarship.
So what organizing concepts would be useful for structuring a
comprehensive framework for identifying research issues in ethics for
technical communication? One could imagine an argument for
structuring such a framework around technical communication products
such as proposals, reports, manuals, articles, position papers, resumes,
and whatever other products could occur under the technical
communication umbrella. However, defining a complete list of
products alone would be a difficult task. Plus, ethics questions seem to
relate as much or more to processes and social relationships as to prod-
ucts. In the hapless employee example described earlier in this chapter,
the dilemmas of loyalty conflicts (between employer and audience),
punishments (job loss and damaged professional reputation), and
professional obligations do not depend solely upon the nature of the
15


misleading information product about which the employee is directed to
write.
I believe more useful organizing principles for a comprehensive
framework are the principles of role and interpersonal relationships. It
is in roles and relationships that technical communicators experience
ethical dilemmas. In the hapless employee example, the employee
struggles with her relationships to her audience, to her employer, to
her profession. She owes accuracy to her audience, loyalty and
obedience to her employer, and adherence to professional values to her
peers.
This principle of relationship organizes the outline of
professional ethics developed by Michael Bayles (1989) in his book,
Professional Ethics. Bayles outline provides a strong foundation for a
comprehensive framework in ethics for technical communication with
which technical communicators can structure scholarly discussion and
identify research issues.
I used Bayles outline to develop the Ethics Framework. Then I
tested whether the Ethics Framework is comprehensive, and whether it
could help us identify meaningful research issues in ethics for technical
communication. If the Framework is indeed comprehensive and can
provide the basis for ethics discourse in technical communication,
technical communication as a profession can truly begin to develop
ethics theory and practice. We as a profession can engage in ethics
discourse to develop scholarship such as the examples from speech
communication and business communication described earlier. We can
engage in ethics discourse to conduct meaningful research and build a
16


body of knowledge that can contribute to developing our professional
ethical stance.
Outline of the Remainder of the Thesis
Chapter 2 describes the Framework and testing the Framework.
To test the Framework, I conducted extensive literature searches in
order to collect articles to categorize using the Framework.
Categorizing the articles and validating the categorization procedure
provides an indication of how comprehensive the Framework actually is.
To answer the question, Can the Framework help us identify
important research issues in ethics for technical communication? I
conducted further categorization and analysis. I categorized all the
published ethics case studies from STCs member newsletter, Intercom,
using the Ethics Framework, as well as categorizing the Codes of Ethics
from four professional writing associations.
Chapter 3 compares the categorizations from the literature
searches, the ethics case studies, and the codes of ethics. This
comparison reveals meaningful research issues in ethics for technical
communication.
Chapter 4 completes the study with conclusions and
recommendations for further research.
17


CHAPTER 2
METHODOLOGY
In this chapter, I first describe the Ethics Framework developed
from Bayles work in Professional Ethics. Next, I describe the
methodology used to test the comprehensiveness of the Ethics
Framework and to determine if the Ethics Framework can help identify
research issues to further the discourse in ethics for technical
communication.
Bayles Professional Ethics as a Comprehensive Framework
for Advancing Discourse in Ethics for Technical Communication
In Professional Ethics, Michael Bayles (1989) has developed an
outline of issues in professional ethics. He works from the premise that
because professionals offer important services to society, they have an
obligation to behave ethically in relation to those they serve. Bayles
believes that the "contemporary concern with professional ethics reflects
consumerism and the need for society to reconsider the role and
conduct of professionals" (p. 14). His study "adopts the point of view of
the average citizen interested in preserving the social values of freedom,
protection from injury, equality of opportunity, privacy, and minimal
well-being" (p. 14). Bayles work also describes the changing world of
the professional. Traditionally, society has viewed professionals as self-
employed and autonomous. However, now professionals are frequently
members of multi-disciplinary teams and are often employees rather
than self-employed.
18


Using Bayles outline to categorize and evaluate research and
scholarship allows us to examine whether it can help us identify
important research issues in ethics for technical communication. As I
describe the categories of Bayles outline, I will analyze the hapless
employee scenario (in which an employee has been instructed to write
misleading material by her employer) from Chapter 1, explaining into
which categories it appropriately falls. This explanation will
demonstrate the potential usefulness of using Bayles outline to develop
an Ethics Framework for structuring fruitful research and discourse. I
will also point out possible problems or limitations with Bayles outline.
Bayles outline covers six aspects of a professionals relationships:
those with clients, other professionals, third parties, employers, and the
profession itself. The categories of his outline include the following:
Category 1 Professional obligations and availability of services;
Category 2 Obligations between professionals and clients;
Category 3 Professional obligations to third parties;
Category 4 Obligations between professionals and employers;
Category 5 Professionals obligations to their profession; and
Category 6 Ensuring compliance.
Each category has subtopics. Appendix A contains a graphic
depiction of the outline, showing the detail of each category and the
subtopics within that category.
Category 1 Professional obligations and availability of services,
addresses the accessibility of professional services to the public.
Subtopics included here are fees, publicity, specialization, insurance,
and what professionals should do about accepting immoral clients (the
question being whether immoral clients deserve access to professional
19


services). Some typical questions that might arise in this category
include the following:
1. What are reasonable fees for technical communication
services?
2. Should technical communicators charge by the hour, or
charge flat rates for products?
3. What are appropriate methods for advertising
technical communication services?
4. Should there be any restrictions on advertising
technical communication services?
Category 2 Obligations between professionals and clients,
encompasses issues in the relationship between professionals and their
clients. One subtopic in this category is the contractual relationship
between professional and client. Bayles first describes five models of
professional/client relationships including agency (when may the
professional act on behalf of, and at the direction of, the client?);
contract (when do the professional and client share responsibility and
authority?); friendship (which Bayles rejects as a false or weak category
since paying for services does not duplicate the qualities of friendship);
paternalism (when may the professional make decisions and manipulate
information affecting the client without consulting the client?); and
fiduciary (when does the client retain authority to make decisions, but
rely on the professionals expertise for advice in which decision to
make?).
Bayles then continues with professionals obligations to be
worthy of their clients trust. The seven standards he lists under this
obligation of trustworthiness include honesty, candor, competence,
20


diligence, loyalty, fairness, and discretion. The last set of obligations
Bayles describes fall upon clients. They are obliged to keep
commitments, to refrain from asking a professional to act unethically,
and to be truthful with the professional.
I added the subtopic of group or team work to Category 2.
Technical communicators often work with other writers and artists, and
with other professionals such as subject matter experts, systems analysts,
computer programmers, and engineers. Such working relationships with
other professionals often exist because of the groups relationship with
the client. For example, a company producing software might hire a
freelance technical writer to write a manual for a new piece of software.
The company might also hire an illustrator. The illustrator and the
writer must then work with the companys software engineer. In
addition, the director of marketing must approve their work. The
illustrator and the technical writer are in a contractual relationship with
the company. They have to work with the group of people involved in
producing the software. Any professional issues that the illustrator and
writer must work out in their relationship exist because of their
relationship with the client. Therefore, ethical issues regarding group
or team work can affect technical communicators obligations to clients.
Typical questions arising in Category 2 might include the
following:
1. What issues occur for technical communicators on
collaborative writing projects? How does effective group
decision-making take place?
2. Is the technical communicator competent to perform?
Has she received adequate training? Is she diligent in
21


performing to the highest standards possible in
accomplishing her work?
3. What is the appropriate relationship between a
technical communicator and his client? How much
authority does a technical communicator need from the
client in order to perform competently?
4. What obligations does a client have to the technical
communicator? What should a technical communicator
do if the client requests unethical or inferior services?
Two subtopics from Category 2 are duplicated in Category 4,
described below. The Category 2 subtopic of professional obligations
for trustworthiness honesty, candor, competence, diligence, loyalty,
fairness, and discretion is duplicated in Category 4 as is the subtopic
of group or team work. Category 4 describes the obligations between
professionals and employers for cases where the professional is an
employee of an organization. These duplications occur because the
subtopics address issues that affect professionals whether they are
independent practitioners (the more traditional scenario), or employees
of organizations (more common today). These duplications of subtopics
in Categories 2 and 4 can create confusion in describing and using the
Ethics Framework. It is likely that further restructuring the Framework
would eliminate the confusion. However, for this study I have
supplemented Bayles outline, rather than modified it, to create the
Ethics Framework. Further work restructuring the Ethics Framework,
based on the findings of this study, would undoubtedly lead to a more
refined, more useful framework.
22


Category 3 Professional obligations to third parties. These
third parties include the general public and, particularly in technical
communications case, the audience for the communicators work. The
subtopics that Bayles discusses in this category include the professionals
obligation to act with fairness, truthfulness, and lack of malice towards
third parties; the legal and ethical issues that professionals may face in
serving their clients versus third parties; and confidentiality between
clients and professionals as it affects third parties. Questions arising in
this category may include the following:
1. In the case of a conflict between the client and the
audience, to whom does the technical communicator owe
allegiance?
2. Is confidentiality ever an issue for technical
communicators with their clients or employers? How
does one decide when to break confidentiality?
This is the first category where we find some guidance for the
hapless employee first described in Chapter 1. The employees boss has
asked her to write misleading material. What if this misleading
material omits information that would help ensure the audiences safety
or well-being? The possibility of allowing or causing harm to third
parties may help the employee determine the answer to her dilemma.
Category 4 Obligations between professionals and employers,
contains subtopics relevant to the relationship between professionals
and their employers. As mentioned earlier, professionals are often
employees of organizations. The relationship between professionals and
employers is different from the relationship between professionals and
their clients. Particularly in technical communication, the employer is
23


not necessarily either the client (treated in Category 2) nor the
audience (treated in either Category 2 if the client is the audience, or
Category 3 if the audience is a third party). For example, a technical
communicator works for a research and consulting firm. Under
contract to a state government agency, the firm develops custom
software to be installed in the local agency offices in each county of the
state. The technical communicator designs and writes the user guides
and the software documentation for that piece of custom software. The
employer in this case is the research and consulting firm, the client is
the contracting state agency, and the audience is the government clerks
who work in the county offices of the state agency.
Under the subtopic of employee obligations to the employer,
Bayles restates here the obligations of professional trustworthiness -
honesty, candor, diligence, competence, discretion, and loyalty which
he described in Category 2. He adds the employee obligation of
obedience to that list. Under the subtopic of authority and conflict,
Bayles discusses bureaucracy versus professionalism; authority
relationships; organizational disobedience; unions; and the subjects of
conflicts as technical, moral, and conscientious refusal. Employers have
obligations to professional employees as well, much as clients do to the
professionals they hire.
As described, Category 2 and Category 4 contain considerable
overlaps. The subtopic of professional standards of behavior occurs in
both places. Additionally, I included the issue of group or team work
here since many technical communication employees work in groups on
projects. The problems with the overlapping subtopics in Categories 2
24


and 4 are discussed further in the conclusions in Chapter 4. Questions
that highlight issues in this area include the following:
1. Exactly what loyalties do technical communicators owe
to their employers? How does one balance obligations to
third parties with obedience to employers?
2. What problems might a technical communicator
experience whose supervisor is not a technical
communication professional?
As for the hapless employee, clearly part of her dilemma springs
from a conflict with authority. Employers expect loyalty and obedience
from their employees. Yet in this case, loyalty and obedience create
conflict with the professional principle of attending to the audience
which is captured in Category 3 Obligations to third parties.
Category 5 Professionals obligations to their profession, deals
with professionals obligations to their peers. Bayles includes as issues
here research, including the professionals obligation to contribute
research results that advance the public good, and respect for the
profession. Respect for the profession means doing those things that
will enhance the reputation of the profession. Specifically that includes
exhibiting respect for fellow professionals; contributing to fulfilling the
social role of the profession (for instance, when attorneys volunteer
their services to those organizations or individuals who cannot afford
regular services); and applying professional standards when considering
applicants for admission to the profession. Respect for the profession
also includes being sensitive to special interests or conflict situations in
which a professional might get involved, and considering how such
involvement could reflect on the profession as a whole.
25


I added the subtopic of the role and definition of technical
communication to this category. Technical communication journals
regularly publish articles discussing how to define technical
communication, and its role as a profession and as a discipline. The
struggle to define the field of technical communication and place it in a
larger context of the work world of modern society clearly impacts the
profession. It is appropriately the responsibility of technical
communication practitioners to define their profession and its place in
society.
I also added publishing as a professional obligation to this
category. Much of the activity in publishing involves both professional
relationships (such as editorships and peer reviews of journal
submissions) and the intent on the part of journals and authors to
enhance the profession. Questions highlighting this category include the
following:
1. What obligations do technical communicators have to
participate in furthering the profession of technical
communication? How important are memberships in
professional societies and publishing in professional
journals?
2. Is the research being conducted useful for the
profession? Is it advancing knowledge and developing
theory?
3. Is the academic side of the profession supporting the
experience of the professionals practicing in the field?
The hapless employee, struggling with the problem of being
asked to write misleading material, faces the possibility of damaging the
26


reputation of the profession in the publics eye. As a professional
technical communicator, the employee struggles with the answer to an
ethical dilemma that not only affects her at an individual level at her
job, but will also reflect on her profession as a whole.
Category 6 contains issues of compliance. Compliance has to do
with controlling and regulating the profession. If we decided to move
the subtopic of obligations of trustworthiness from Categories 2 and 4, a
case could be made for moving them here. Much of what other
professions control and regulate is the ability and qualifications of
professionals to practice their profession. However, technical
communication has struggled with this issue for some time and has had
difficulty defining appropriate measures of competence and knowledge
for the field. Hence, Category 6 may not be the best place for the
trustworthiness subtopic at this time.
Highlighting this category are questions such as:
1. Should there be licensing of the profession of technical
communication? What would licensing consist of?
2. Is the profession non-discriminatory in allowing
disadvantaged groups to enter?
3. Does the profession need to police its members in
order to protect society from incompetent or corrupt
technical communicators? How would it accomplish this?
I added a Category 7 Ethics, to include those issues that relate
specifically to ethics as a topic. Such issues include theoretical and
broad-based discussions that would be too limited or do not fit easily
into the other categories. Questions that arise in this category include:
1. Is ethics a relevant topic for technical communication?
27


2. What are issues in ethics for technical communication?
3. How can we develop ethical theory for technical
communication? j
4. What should a code of ethics for technical communica-
tors include?
These categories constitute the comprehensive Ethics Framework
that I propose would allow us to structure and evaluate research and
discussion of ethics for technical communication. This Ethics
Framework will also help us identify research issues in ethics for
technical communication. The Ethics Framework is comprehensive
because it is built on the principle of relationships relationships with
others (clients, third parties, peers), relationship with oneself (as self-
employed, employee, member of a profession), and relationship with
society as a whole (as an ethical, law-abiding professional contributing
to the well-being of society).
Testing the Framework and Identifying
Meaningful Research Issues in Technical Communication
The reliability of the Ethics Framework must be verified in order
to use it with confidence. Once we are convinced that the Framework
is reliable, we can then use it to determine what might be meaningful
research issues in ethics for technical communication.
To test the reliability of the Ethics Framework, I first conducted
extensive literature searches in professional journals to collect articles
about ethics in technical communication. I then categorized those
articles using the Framework and assessed the validity of my
categorization procedure using independent judges. The process of
28


conducting the literature searches, categorizing the collected articles,
and assessing the categorization procedure is described in this chapter.
The second goal of this study, stated in Chapter 1, was to
determine whether a comprehensive framework could help us identify
meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. In
order to test whether the Ethics Framework could identify such
research issues, I also categorized two other significant sources of
material on ethics for technical communication ethics case studies and
current codes of ethics from four professional writing associations.
Comparing the results of categorizing these three sets of material
reveals meaningful research issues in ethics for technical
communication.
The ethics case studies come from the Society for Technical
Communication (STC) member newsletter, Intercom, published 10 times
a year. STCs membership develops and submits these case studies. A
list of questions for consideration accompanies each case study, and
responses to the questions are published in the following edition of
Intercom. Since these case studies are designed to foster discourse on
ethics among peers and to raise ethics awareness, they are designed to
be topical and provocative. Consequently, they might reflect the
current experience and concerns of professional technical
communicators. The four codes of ethics which were categorized using
the Ethics Framework are from professional writing associations serving
either technical communicators or professions closely aligned with
technical communication, such as medical writing.
These three sets of material on ethics in technical
communication have been created for different purposes. Authors
29


publish articles in professional journals to present new ideas, share
results of research, debate issues of interest to professionals, and
enhance their professional careers. Case studies presented for
comment are designed both to create awareness of ethics considerations
in professional behavior, and to foster discourse on ethics issues among
peers. In particular the case studies should reflect the experience of
professionals with ethical issues since professionals develop the studies
and address them to their peers for discussion and comment. In
contrast to either case studies or articles, codes of ethics are guidelines
to ethical behavior for professionals. They set standards and embody
the values and principles by which a profession defines itself. By using
these three sets of material, we are more likely to capture the full range
of ethical concerns expressed by technical communicators.
Consequently, categorizing case studies and codes allows us to expand
our analysis of possible research issues the Ethics Framework might
define.
Conducting Comprehensive Literature Searches
The goal of the literature searches was to collect a broad set of
articles about ethics and professional issues in technical communication
to classify into the Ethics Framework. The results of the classification
would allow us to explore the usefulness of the Ethics Framework and
help us learn whether we could define research issues using the
Framework. Two sets of literature searches were conducted. Each set
included a manual search plus a computerized database search. As a
result, complete copies of 290 articles were obtained.
30


Conducting literature searches presents a series of problems to
bibliographers:
1. How to collect enough material.
2. How to avoid collecting too much material.
3. How to be rigorously thorough in finding appropriate
sources.
4. How to ensure the usefulness and relevance of the
collected material.
5. Where to find all the material identified.
Because the focus of this study was the current state of ethics for
technical communication, both sets of literature searches covered
literature from the years 1975 to 1990.
Ethics Literature Search
I first conducted a manual search of article titles for articles about
ethics for technical communication, published during 1975 to 1990 in
four professional journals dedicated to technical communication;
Technical Communication, Journal of Technical Writing and Communica-
tion, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, and the Journal
of Business and Technical Communication.
Next, in order to collect more articles, I conducted a
computerized search of eight databases. To ensure that I discovered as
many pertinent articles as possible, I searched for articles dealing with
ethics and either writing, communication, or rhetoric in five areas -
technical, professional, business, scientific, and engineering. The search
string used in the computerized search was as follows:
31


technical, professional, business, scientific, engineering
with writing, communication, rhetoric with ethic?1
Using the Dialog subscription service to on-line cataloging, the
search was conducted in eight databases. Because of the structure of
the ERIC database in Dialog, it was searched only from 1983 to 1990.
Also, ERIC could not search using the multiple key words used in the
other databases. Therefore, the ERIC search used only the key words
technical communication. The other seven databases, listed below, all
covered periods longer than the targeted 15 years of the search.
1. PsycINFO catalogues journals in psychology.
2. MANAGEMENT CONTENTS and
ABI/INFORM cover management and business
topics.
3. Philosophers Index covers philosophy.
4. Dissertation Abstracts Online catalogues abstracts
of Ph.D. dissertations.
5. Language Abstracts indexes articles in the fields of
linguistics and language behaviors.
6. INSPEC catalogues scientific literature.
7. ERIC covers topics in education research.
Dialog provided a printout of article citations and abstracts which
helped to identify articles to collect.
As a result of reading the abstracts, I decided to eliminate
certain categories of topics in order to refine and control the articles
eg i
is i
wo
The question mark is the search convention which tells the computer to search for any occurrence
ning with the word ethic. Therefore the search would pick up ethics, ethical, or any other form of the word
night occur. The with command is inclusive; that is, it will include any combination of words from the first
ets which are then combined with ethic.
32


collected. The categories which were eliminated included articles about
teaching ethics, since they usually concentrated more on pedagogy than
on research issues in ethics. "How to" articles that tended to focus on
the practices of technical communication such as writing were also
excluded. The last category of articles I excluded were those discussing
international or bilingual topics, a relatively new area of interest to
technical communicators. I then collected the selected articles through
manual library searches, making a complete copy of each article. Those
articles not available through manual library searches were collected
through the interlibrary loan service.
Professional Issues Literature Search
A second set of literature searches, manual and computerized,
was conducted for two reasons. First, I wanted to have as many articles
as possible to categorize into the Ethics Framework. Second, the
parameters for the first search were limited to articles which addressed
ethics as a topic. I wanted to include articles about professional issues
identified in the Ethics Framework, which may not have been classified
as specifically about ethics. In order to ensure the usefulness and
relevance of the collected material, I searched for articles about the
professional issues contained in the Ethics Framework. For these
searches, I developed a list of key words directly from subtopics in the
Ethics Framework categories.
Below is a representative list of words. Half of the words occur
in the Framework, the other half are (a) synonyms to the words in the
Framework (consulting as synonymous with "professional-client
relationship" in Category 2), (b) words related specifically to ethical
33


issues in writing professions (such as plagiarism), (c) words related to
the Framework subtopics (such as citation relates to publishing in
Category 5), or (d) they are words associated with ethics in general
(such as standards!.
Accountability
Accuracy
Certification
Citation
Client
Competence
Confidentiality
Conflict of Interest
Consulting
Contract
Copyright
Credibility
Diligence
Employee
Failure/Problem
Fees
Honesty
Integrity
Judgement
Liability
License
Plagiarism
Professional
Qualifications
Research
Respect
Responsibility
Services
Standards
Truth
Using these terms, I conducted a second manual search of article
titles in the four technical communication journals listed above for the
15-year period from 1975 to 1990. I then copied the articles identified
in this search.
I also conducted a second computerized database search. This
second search included one half of the words contained in the list
above. Even using the shortened list of words, the search string was
unusually long for a computerized database search. The search string
was executed as follows:
technical, professional, business, scientific, engineering
with communication, writing, publication, presentation,
language with fees, consult?, confidentiality, plagiarism,
integrity, liability, employee, licens?, honest?, copyright,
competence, accuracy, research, accountability, truth
34


I conducted this second search in five databases. Philosophers
Index, Language Abstracts, and INSPEC were searched using the
Dialog service. As before, those databases cover material dating from
before 1975, so articles occurring between 1975 to 1990 were captured.
In this search, ABI/INFORM was searched from April 1986 through
March 1991 using a Compact Disk/Read Only Memory (CD/ROM)
disk on a personal computer (PC). PsycLit, a psychology database
comparable to PsycINFO, was searched from January 1983 through
March 1991, also using a CD/ROM disk service on a PC. Again,
computer printouts of article citations and abstracts were obtained. I
read each abstract and decided whether to obtain the complete article
based on the criteria described above.
Finally, I used one other source of articles. The bibliographies
of all the articles ultimately categorized into the Ethics section of the
Ethics Framework were searched, and pertinent articles from those
bibliographies were acquired. Those articles identified through the
database searches and the bibliography search were then collected
through manual library searches and the interlibrary loan service.
Categorizing the Articles
The next step in the process was to assign all 290 articles to the
categories of the Ethics Framework. I planned to do this by reading
each article. However, due to the volume of material and the need to
conduct an independent test of the reliability of my categorization, I
needed to design a simple and replicable procedure. Such a procedure
also needed to ensure that the true focus of each article was identified.
To categorize the articles I designed the following procedure:
35


1. First I read the abstract and the summary. If these did
not exist, I read the first paragraph and last paragraph of
the article.
If the first paragraph did not introduce the topic, and if
the last paragraph did not summarize the topic, I then
read the first section and last section, using the subtitles
as section dividers.
2. Next I read the section headings throughout the article. If
I felt confident that I had identified the topic(s) of the
article, I stopped with step 2. If I was still unsure about
the topic of the article, I continued with step 3.
3. I read the topic sentences of each paragraph throughout
the article.
When I had decided upon the category or categories to which the
article belonged, I assigned the category number to the article. If an
article belonged in more than one category, I coded it for each
category.
This categorization process eliminated 57 articles from the
collection. These were articles which, upon closer scrutiny, fell into one
of the previously eliminated categories (international or bilingual
communication articles, "how-to" articles, articles about teaching ethics).
A few were annotated bibliographies or were humorous or ironic
commentary that did not lend themselves to serious categorization.
This final process of elimination resulted in 233 articles included in the
categorization.
36


Assessing the Reliability of the Categories
The categorization methodology was validated using three
independent judges. These judges are acquaintances of the author who
had not participated in any previous aspects of the research being
conducted. One judge works as a proposal coordinator for a scientific
consulting firm, one judge is an attorney and works as a legal analyst
with a public policy research firm, and the third judge was a banking
professional.
The validation process occurred as follows. First, a group of 20
articles was selected at random. To select these articles, all 233
categorized articles were numbered on the back from 1 through 233.
An independent computer programmer prepared a random number
generator using Turbo C. The program was compiled on a personal
computer. This program then generated a list of 20 numbers. The
corresponding articles were selected to constitute the group used by the
judges. Each article was numbered on the front from 1 through 20.
The judges then worked with the articles using the numbers 1 through
20.
To conduct the reliability test, a set of materials was developed.
(Appendix B contains a set of these materials.) First, a description of
each of the seven categories in the Ethics Framework was typed onto a
separate page. Another page contained instructions for following the
procedure to use for categorizing each article (Steps 1-3 described in
the previous section). Finally, a set of coding sheets was developed,
and then labeled at the top for each category in the Ethics Framework.
The coding sheet allowed the judge to mark her or his category decision
for each article next to that articles number. Then, in three separate
37


sessions, the three judges were given the stack of 20 articles and the
categorization procedure described above. After instruction about how
to follow the categorization procedure, they were given the description
for Category 1. The judges then followed the procedure for each
article, deciding whether that article fit into Category 1. When they
had decided, they marked yes or no next to the number of the article
on the Category 1 Coding Sheet. When they had finished with
Category 1, they were given the description for Category 2, and
followed the same procedure on all 20 articles for Category 2. This
procedure was repeated for all seven categories from the Ethics
Framework. Appendix B also contains the judges completed
worksheets.
The results of these judges categorizations were tested
statistically. An agreement among all three judges was considered to
have occurred if all three judges assigned an article to the same
category or if they all agreed that an article did not belong to a
category. The probability of such an agreement is binomially
distributed. One possible outcome is that all three judges agree on the
classification of an article. The other possible outcome is that the
judges do not fully agree. The probability of all three judges agreeing
assumes independence of classification and is conditional on the
propensity of each judge to categorize articles. The propensity indicates
the likelihood that a judge will classify an article within the Ethics
Framework. For example, Judge A categorized articles 33 times out of
a possible 140 times, so her propensity to classify is 0.2357.
If classification was totally random, the probability that all judges
agree on classification would only be a function of the judges
38


propensity to classify an article, as opposed to any effect of the Ethics
Framework. Table 1 presents the theoretical probabilities of the judges
agreeing that an article should be placed in no categories to all seven
categories. To calculate the probability of no matches, 1 minus the
propensity is used.
Table 1
Theoretical Probability and Expected Value
of the Event Occurring Based on Binomial Distribution
(a) r = number of 3- way matches8 (b) probability of r matches (c) In 20 articles1, expected number of 3-way matches
0 .1540 3.0807
1 .3303 6.6061
2 .3036 6.0710
3 .1550 3.0996
4 .0475 .9495
5 .0087 .1745
6 .0009 .0178
7 .00004 .0008
Number of times all three judges could agree on whether an article fit
into a category.
bColumn (c) = column (b) x 20.
A chi-square test was conducted to determine whether a
significant difference exists between the expected outcome and the
observed outcome. The null hypothesis is that the judges agreements
are purely random. Acceptance of the null hypothesis would suggest
that the Ethics Framework is not a useful system of classification. The
39


alternative hypothesis is that the judges agreements are not random.
Table 2 shows the results of the chi-square test.
Table 2
Observed Outcome
r = number of 3-way matches Expected Outcome Observed Outcome
0 3.087 2
1 6.6061 4
2 6.0710 4
3 to 7 4.2422 10
Note. The fourth row of Table 2, the number of matches from 3 to 7,
is combined so that the value of the expected outcome for each cell is
greater than 3.
A chi-square test performed on the last two columns gives x2 =
(3, N = 20) = 10.02, p <.02. Therefore, we can reject the null
hypothesis and affirm that the actual outcome was not random.
Categorizing Ethics Cases from Intercom
The nine ethics case studies from Intercom, STCs member
newsletter, were also categorized into the Ethics Framework. STC
members developed the cases and submitted them for publication,
where they appeared in issues from November 1988 (when the series
began) through February 1992. These nine cases each present an
ethical dilemma involving a technical communicator and include
questions for members to answer. Members submit proposed
resolutions to the dilemmas, along with supplemental commentary,
which then appear in a subsequent issue. These case studies provide a
40


unique source of material on technical communication ethics developed
by practicing technical communication professionals. Each case was
read and assigned to the appropriate category or categories in the
Ethics Framework that was outlined earlier in this chapter.
Categorizing the Codes of Ethics
Codes of ethics provide a source of information about
professions ethical values, embodying the principles of ethical behavior
that professions set for themselves. Codes of ethics from four
professional writing associations were categorized into the Ethics
Framework. These professional writing associations either encompass
technical communication or are closely related. Categorizing these
codes into the Ethics Framework allows us to identify research issues
arising from those stated principles. The codes from four professional
writing associations were used for two reasons. First, it is likely that
research issues in ethics identified from similar professions would apply
equally to technical communication. Second, using four codes ensured
that there would be enough material to reach meaningful conclusions.
The four associations and their codes are the following:
1. The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and
their Code of Ethics.
2. The Association of Professional Writing Consultants
(APWC) and their Standards for Ethical Conduct.
3. The International Association of Business Communicators
(IABC) and their Code of Ethics.
4. The Society for Technical Communication (STC) and
their Code for Communicators.
41


Appendix C contains the codes in their entirety. Each section or
sentence of each code was categorized into the Ethics Framework that
was outlined earlier in this chapter. Appendix D contains the
breakdown of code statements into the Ethics Framework category
sections.
42


CHAPTER 3
RESULTS OF THE STUDY AND DISCUSSION
In the first section of this chapter, I present and discuss the
results of categorizing the codes of ethics of four professional writing
associations, the nine ethics case studies from Intercom, and the 233
articles collected through the literature searches. In the second section
of this chapter, I compare the categorizations of these three sets of
materials.
The goal of the categorization effort was to discover whether
using the Ethics Framework would identify meaningful research issues
in ethics for technical communication. Comparing the distribution of
articles across the seven categories in the Ethics Framework with the
distribution of the codes of ethics and the ethics case studies identified
such issues. As noted, articles are published to present new ideas, to
report on research, to debate issues of interest to professionals, to
advance professional careers, and to encourage further discourse in the
profession. Professions promulgate codes of ethics to set standards of
professional conduct and to articulate those standards to the profession
and the public. The ethics case studies are published to increase the
ethics awareness of technical communicators and to create a forum for
discussing ethics issues. We are interested in clarifying three issues:
1. Do the codes address concerns of practitioners who develop
case studies? Committees of professional associations
often take responsibility for developing codes of ethics.
43


Such committees may borrow codes developed by other
associations and rework them to fit their own needs. For
instance, as Walzer (1989) reports, in 1958 the Society of
Technical Writers and Editors (STWE), a precursor to the
Society for Technical Communication (STC), "adopted the
Canons of Ethics; canons which often seem to address
the ethical concerns engineers confront, not those of the
technical writer and editor. Indeed, the Canons are
acknowledged to be based on the Engineers Councils
code" (p. 101).
Ideally, a code of ethics should address real issues
that professionals face in the daily practice of their
profession. As Schaefer points out,
The code [STCs Code for Communicators] deals
largely with steps, somewhat limited, toward
achieving professional competence. It offers little
in the way of guidance or standards of conduct for
technical communicators faced with ethical
problems in the exercise of their profession. This
lack has caused concern among members of the
Society who feel that there is a definite need to
have a code that will provide such guidance. (1980,
P-4)
2. Do researchers who publish articles have the same interests
as practitioners? The relationship of these interests as
reflected in the article categorizations contrasted with the
case study categorizations should indicate whether
academia (where much research takes place) is interested
in and working with issues that affect technical
44


communicators on the job (the group mostly responsible
for developing the case studies). Clark (1987) describes
the possible conflict between the professional perspective
and the academic perspective.
People who work from the first perspective as
professional technical communicators discuss ethics
in the immediate and practical context of the
experience and the interests of their particular
organizations and their profession, while people
who work from the second perspective, as
academicians, tend to discuss ethics in a more
abstract and theoretical context that addresses
broader interests, (p. 190)
Neither groups focus is necessarily a problem. However,
we might have a problem developing relevant, useful
information about ethics for technical communication if
we find little overlap between the groups interests.
3. Does the focus of the codes reflect the interests and concerns
of the current research and the case studies in the field?
For the codes to serve as guidance for practicing
professionals, they must reflect the experiences and
concerns professionals face. As mentioned above, the
Code for Communicators does not offer much concrete
guidance for a technical communicator facing a real-life
ethical dilemma. However, the combination of the four
codes might prove more relevant.
45


Results and Discussion of Categorizations
into the Ethics Framework
Results and Discussion of Categorizing Codes of Ethics
The codes of ethics of four professional writing associations were
broken into a total of 85 separate statements. The breakdown of code
statements is contained in Appendix D. As with the articles, each
statement could be assigned to more than one category. The total
number of statement assignments was 115. Table 3 shows the
percentage of statements by category in rank order.
Table 3
Categorizations of Codes of Ethics
Category % of code statements
Professionals & Clients 32
Professionals & Employers 30
Third Parties 18
Obligations to the Profession 11
Ensuring Compliance 5
Availability of Services 4
The Ethics Category was excluded from this exercise. Any
statements from the codes themselves that referred to ethics are either
descriptive, that is, they describe the general importance of ethics for
the profession, or else they call for agreement to follow the guidelines
in the code. In either case, those statements do not suggest research
issues in ethics for technical communication professionals, so they were
not categorized.
46


As Table 3 shows, Category 2 Professionals and Clients
(professional-client relationship, professionals trustworthiness to
practice, obligations of clients, and group/team work) and Category 4 -
Professionals and Employers (employees obligations to employers;
employees obligations to employers versus obligations to others;
authority and conflict; employer obligations; and group/team work)
received the greatest percentage of code statements. The emphasis on
these two categories is not surprising since statements of competence
and integrity as well as statements of professional relationships fall
here. The codes focus heavily on the professionalism, integrity, and
diligence called for from professional writers when dealing with clients
and employers.
In the codes many statements assigned to Category 2 -
Professionals and Clients were also assigned to Category 4 -
Professionals and Employers. This overlap stems from the fact that
both categories contain the subtopic of professional trustworthiness. A
typical statement assigned to both categories, addressing professionals
obligation to be trustworthy, occurs in the International Association of
Business Communicators (IABC)s Code of Ethics. I ABCs Code
statement 1 says,
Communication professionals will uphold the credibility
and dignity of their profession by encouraging the practice of
honest, candid, and timely communication.
The highest standards of professionalism will be upheld in
all communication. Communicators should encourage frequent
communication and messages that are honest in their content,
candid, accurate, and appropriate to the needs of the
organization and its audiences.
47


Indeed, the only set of statements which do not fall into both
categories are from the Association of Professional Writing Consultants
(APWC)s Standards of Ethical Conduct for Writing Consultants. These
statements (numbers 3a-3d, 5a-5c, and 6a-6b) apply specifically to
consultants, since the Association consists of consultants. However,
much of the content could as easily apply to professional employees.
For example, 5a states, "In writing materials for a client, the consultant
agrees to -- a. Provide clear, concise readable copy which meets the
needs of both the client and the intended readers." A professional
technical communication employee should probably strive for the same
goal.
The overlap of material in Categories 2 Professionals and
Clients and 4 Professionals and Employers will repeat in the
categorization of articles. This overlap illustrates a weakness of Bayles
categories for the Ethics Framework. While Bayles focus on
relationships gives the Ethics Framework its strength, that focus also
creates a conceptual overlap which could cause confusion. The issue of
professionals trustworthiness to perform occurs in both categories
where professionals perform their profession namely as employees or
as independent contractors to clients. Similarly, the issue of a
professionals ability to perform should be the same for either a self-
employed professional or an employee professional.
Table 3 shows us the next two categories in importance. In third
place, Category 3 Obligations to Third Parties (professionals obliga-
tions to third parties; obligations of professionals to their clients versus
their obligations to others; confidentiality; and copyright and
trademark) emphasizes professionals obligations to third parties. The
48


emphasis here for communicators is understandable since third parties
constitute most of the audience for the communication. The codes
statements assigned to this category address confidentiality, the account-
ability of the professional to act lawfully, and the audience for whom
the professionals write. In a typical example, the American Medical
Writers Association (AMWA) Codes Principle 6 addresses
confidentiality. "A medical writer should respect the personal and
confidential nature of professional records. He should not divulge,
without proper authorization, any confidential patient, patent, or other
private information to which he has access."
Category 5 Obligations to the Profession (research and reform;
publishing; and respect for the profession) ranks fourth. This category
is undoubtedly important in the codes of ethics of professional
associations. However, given the fact that the associations publish and
promulgate the codes, it is interesting that they do not focus more
attention in this area. Of the statements falling within this category,
most of them have to do with treating the associations and the profes-
sions honorably. For example, STCs Code for Communicators states
that technical communicators should "Respect the work of colleagues,
knowing that a communication problem may have more than one
solution."
Category 6 Ensuring Compliance (controls; discipline; self-
regulation; and motivations for compliance) occupies fifth place. The
professions whose codes were categorized do not have licensing
requirements or regulatory structures in place. Since this category deals
with controlling and regulating the profession, the codes only address
this category in a limited fashion. The statements that did fall into
49


Category 6 deal with self-regulation. For instance, the APWC
Standards statement 6 states "In conducting writing instruction and in
writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to b. Advise the
client when the written materials and practices of the client are not
consistent with the ethical standards of the professional community."
Category 1 Availability of Services (fees, advertising, and
specialization) includes statements addressing publicity and fees. These
subtopics largely affect self-employed professionals. Most technical
communicators work as employees. For instance, a recent salary survey
conducted by STC received a total of 600 responses. Of those
responses, only 18%, or 108, categorized themselves as consultants.
And in a 1988 survey of STC membership receiving 610 responses, in
the type-of-job category, 13%, or 79, identified themselves as consult-
ing/freelance practitioners. In the employment-by-sector category, 9%,
or 54, categorized themselves as self-employed. So the majority of
respondents in both surveys work as employees.
While the APWC is a consultants organization, the AMWA and
IABC codes occur in associations with probably more employee
members than self-employed members. Therefore, issues of publicity
and fees may not matter as much as they would to a profession with
more self-employed practitioners. While the issues may not matter as
much, some of the codes do address them. For example, the AMWA
Code addresses publicity in Principle 7. "A medical writer may actively
seek, through advertisements or other means, ethical professional
assignments consistent with his talents and capacity to provide medical
communication services."
50


The categorization of the codes thus identifies some
inadequacies in the codes treatment of professional issues. None of
the codes are in any way comprehensive. At least one subtopic, that of
publishing which falls into Category 5 Obligations to the Profession
(research and reform; publishing; and respect for the profession), had
no statements assigned to it. However, ethical issues in publishing are
the subject of numerous articles. Many subtopics have few statements
assigned (for example, most of the subtopics in Category 6 Ensuring
Compliance [controls; discipline; self-regulation; and motivations for
compliance]). However, it is notable that each category did contain at
least one statement. Thus, the Ethics Framework does capture the
range of possible relationships addressed by the codes we examined.
Results and Discussion of Categorizing Ethics Cases in Intercom
The member newsletter of the STC, Intercom, publishes ethics
case studies for member discussion and comment. Intercom has
published nine cases between 1988 and 1992. All nine cases reviewed
for this study, or 100%, fell into Category 4 Professionals and
Employers (employees obligations to employers; employees obligations
to employers versus obligations to others; authority and conflict;
employer obligations; and group/team work). All cases dealt with
employee technical communicators placed in difficult situations by
superiors or other employees, by outside vendors, by conflicting roles as
professionals and employees, and by conflicting obligations to third
parties and employers.
For example, the ethics case published in the August/September
1991 issue of Intercom dealt with an editors dilemma (ONeill, 1991).
51


The editor in question believed that an article for a corporate
newsletter, written by the company president, needed extensive editing.
However, two vice presidents in the company had already told the
president in writing that they believed the article needed no changes.
The editor had to decide how to approach the editing task in light of
her relationship with the president and vice presidents of the company.
In the February 1990 issue of Intercom, the ethics case describes
a dilemma with potentially higher stakes (Handler, 1990). A technical
writer is writing a marketing brochure for a device which used parts
from a well-respected vendor. The first marketing brochure for the
device identified the vendor as supplying parts for the device, which was
a commercial success. Subsequently, another vendor had begun
supplying those parts for the device as well. In revising the marketing
brochure, the writer decided to leave out any reference to vendors,
since the first vendor was no longer the sole supplier of parts. This
brought him into conflict with both the design engineer and the writers
direct supervisor, both of whom wanted reference to only the first
vendor included.
These cases, perhaps more than any other source, reveal for us
what topics interest technical communication practitioners, since mostly
practitioners submit the cases for publication. (Of the authors of the
ethics cases, only one lists a university address in the 1991-1992 STC
Membership Directory. Five list corporate addresses and the remaining
addresses do not indicate either a corporation or a university.) There
can be little doubt that practitioners struggle with conflicts between
their roles as employees and as professionals.
52


It is unusual, however, that all the cases would fall into one
category. While some of the cases have implications for another
category (usually Category 3 Obligations to Third Parties
[professionals obligations to third parties; obligations of professionals
to their clients versus their obligations to others; confidentiality; and
copyright and trademark]), the primary dilemma in all of them involves
a communicator as an employee. As a matter of fact, Category 4 -
Professionals and Employers (employees obligations to employers;
employees obligations to employers versus obligations to others;
authority and conflict; employer obligations; and group/team work)
contains a subtopic that deals with the employee and his or her
relationship with the employer versus the employees relationship with
others, including third parties, clients, and other employees.
Perhaps the method of collecting these case studies has
generated an unrepresentative sample. In the November 1988 Intercom,
R. John Brockmann, Manager of the Ethics Committee, describes the
committees intent in publishing cases. He states that the committee
had been developing cases over the preceding year, and asked for new
committee members who wanted to write new cases. Then, beginning
in the October 1990 issue, the ethics cases and responses contain a
request to contact the committee if one wishes to submit an ethics case.
Consequently, the STC members who have developed and submitted
the cases are a self-selected group who may share common interests
that would not necessarily reflect all the interests of the wider
readership.
Perhaps early cases shape later submissions. Since the first cases
dealt with technical communicators as employees, they might have
53


suggested the direction for the later cases. And, since most technical
communicators consider themselves employees as described earlier,
conceivably they have a much higher level of interest in cases that
reflect their daily work. Case studies of dilemmas about publishing
research or dilemmas about pricing services provided as a freelance
technical communicator may not necessarily address the experience of a
great many readers of Intercom.
In any event, the overemphasis of the case studies on Category 4
- Professionals and Employers seems unusual and is not likely to totally
represent the universe of ethical dilemmas experienced by technical
communicators. However, this overemphasis can tell us something
about developing research issues for ethics in technical communication.
Results and Discussion of Categorizing Articles
As noted, of 290 articles collected through the manual and
computerized literature searches, 233 articles were categorized into the
Ethics Framework. Because any one article could be assigned to more
than one category, the total number of article assignments to categories
equaled 287. Table 4 shows the ranking of categories according to the
percent of articles assigned to them.
54


Table 4
Categorizations of Published Articles
Category % of articles
Obligations to the Profession 35
Ethics 17
Third Parties 16
Professionals & Employers 13
Professionals & Clients 10
Availability of Services 6
Ensuring Compliance 2
By far the greatest number of articles fell into Category 5 -
Obligations to the Profession (research and reform; publishing; and
respect for the profession). Examples of typical articles are described
in the second section of this chapter. Category 5 in the Ethics
Framework includes subtopics relating to publishing, research, and
respect for the profession, which includes further subtopics of
professionalism, exhibiting respect for peers, collegiality, compensation,
and definition and role of technical communication. The following list
samples topics addressed by articles in this category:
1. What role should research play in our profession?
What type of research do we need? Is valuable
research being conducted?
2. What does it mean to be a professional in
technical communication?
3. How much are we worth as professionals?
55


4. What exactly is technical communication? How is
it different from other professional writing fields?
What purpose does technical communication serve
in society?
5. What role does publishing play in professional
development? How can we contribute to the
literature in our field?
This focus on the profession itself supports Walzers contention
that "there are mixed motives behind the interest in professional ethics
and codes. Often professional codes are viewed predominantly as
vehicles to enhance the status of a profession. Doctors, lawyers, and
engineers have codes and status; office workers have neither" (1989, p.
101). However, this emphasis on professional ethics as a way of
developing the profession need not be entirely self-serving. According
to Bayles, the obligations professionals have to their profession "rest on
the responsibilities of a profession as a whole to further social values"
(1989, p. 179). If technical communicators care about how practicing
their profession serves society, then they must address the subtopics in
this category.
The second largest group of articles falls in Category 7 Ethics
(theory and philosophy; practice of ethics; ethics how-to; case studies;
codes; and ethics and rhetoric). Topics of articles in this category
include (a) ethics practices, (b) ethics and rhetoric, (c) codes of ethics,
(d) ethics how-to articles for different types of writing or different
writing products such as scientific reports, and (e) defining ethics for
technical communication. The fact that 35% of the articles treat
professional issues and 17% of the articles treat ethics could reflect
56


more interest in promoting and enhancing the status of the profession
than in a true concern for examining ethical questions and advancing
the professional discourse in ethics in general. However, the difference
could also reflect the inherent difficulty in researching and writing
about such abstract issues. The structure and focus provided by the
comprehensive Ethics Framework could address this difficulty in
researching and writing about ethics. Using the Framework could
enhance the quality and quantity of research, publication, and discourse
dealing more strictly with ethics issues. However, interest and research
in ethics is not lacking by any means. Some of the most interesting
work is taking place in the area of ethics and rhetoric, as described in
Chapter 1, where researchers are developing creative paradigms of
ethics for technical communicators using rhetoric as an organizing
principle.
Category 3 Obligations to Third Parties (professionals
obligations to third parties; obligations of professionals to their clients
versus their obligations to others; confidentiality; and copyright and
trademark) contains almost the same number of article assignments as
Category 7 Ethics. According to Bayles, "Conflicts between role-
related responsibilities to clients and universal obligations to third
parties are at the heart of professional ethics" (1989, p. 129). Category
3s third place ranking reflects the fact that technical communication
focuses a significant amount of attention on third parties in the form of
audience. Subtopics in this category include copyrights, confidentiality,
and truthfulness and fairness to third parties (who might be other
communicators in addition to audiences).
57


Category 4 Professionals and Employers (employees obliga-
tions to employers; employees obligations to employers versus
obligations to others; authority and conflict; employer obligations; and
group/team work) and Category 2 Professionals and Clients
(professional-client relationship, professionals trustworthiness to
practice, obligations of clients, and group/team work) fall fourth and
fifth, respectively. The low percentage of articles in these categories
(13% and 10% respectively) is somewhat unexpected since the
subtopics of competence and integrity, and of the relationship of the
technical communicator to the client or employer, would seem
important. However, of the topics addressed by articles in this
category, authors exhibit the most interest in the subtopic of group or
team work among technical communicators, subject matter experts, and
software development teams. Subtopics to which authors pay the least
attention include those of professional competence and integrity.
Category 1 Availability of Services (fees, advertising, and
specialization) includes the subtopics of fees and publicity and falls into
sixth place. As noted in the discussion of the codes categorizations, we
would expect more interest in Category 1 in professions with more self-
employed practitioners. Other professions which have had rules against
advertising and for whom fees charged can restrict the publics access to
services (such as law and medicine) may also have more interest in
these subtopics.
Category 6 Ensuring Compliance (controls; discipline; self-
regulation; and motivations for compliance) falls into last place.
Subtopics such as licensing, discipline, and self-regulation of
professionals fall into this category. Again, as noted in the discussion of
58


the codes categorization, the technical communication profession does
not have licensing or regulatory structures in place that would create
much interest in these subtopics. The articles in this category deal
mostly with certification of technical communicators.
Comparison of Categorizations of the
Codes. Case Studies, and Articles
Table 5 highlights the categories containing the greatest
discrepancies in the categorizations of codes of ethics, case studies, and
articles. The discrepancies are interesting because they indicate that
professional opinion may diverge about the important issues in ethics
for technical communication, thereby identifying potential research
issues. In the following discussion I compare the categories which
contain the highest percent of code statements (Category 2), case
studies (Category 4), and articles (Category 5).
Table 5
Areas of Discrepancy Between Articles,
Code Statements, and Case Studies
Category % of Code Statements & (rank) % of Case Studies % of Articles & (rank)
1 Avail, of Services 4(6) 0 6(6)
2 Prof, and clients 32 (1) 0 10 (5)
3 Third Parties 18(3) 0 16(3)
4 Prof, and employers 30 (2) 100 13 (4)
5 Obligations to Profession 11(4) 0 35 (1)
6 Ensuring Compliance 5(5) 0 2(7)
7 Ethics n/a 0 17 (2)
59


Discrepancies Between Codes and Case Studies
As illustrated above, Category 2 contains the highest percentage
of code statements, Category 4 contains 100% of the case studies, and
Category 5 contains none of the case studies and 11% of the code
statements. Is the focus of the case studies too narrow? Do the codes
address issues of real importance to practitioners? Do the code
statements that fall into Category 4 address the issues in the case
studies?
Category 2 Professionals and Clients (professional-client
relationship, professionals trustworthiness to practice, obligations of
clients, and group/team work) contains the highest percentage of code
statements and no case studies. Category 4 Professionals and
Employers (employees obligations to employers; employees obligations
to employers versus obligations to others; authority and conflict;
employer obligations; and group/team work) contains the second
highest percentage of code statements and all the case studies. The
codes focus heavily on the professionalism, integrity, and diligence
required from professional communicators, particularly in relation to
their audience, regardless of their employment status. The case studies
all deal with dilemmas experienced by employee technical
communicators primarily because of their role as employees. However,
the case studies could easily have presented the same dilemmas from
the point of view of independent consultants.
For example, in the first case described earlier in this chapter,
the editor who wanted to edit the company presidents newsletter article
experienced a conflict between good editorial practice and her
relationships with the president and vice presidents of the company
60


(potential conflict with authority). As an employee, she is obviously
subordinate to corporate officers, and will likely behave differently with
them than if she were self-employed and working for the company
under contract. In the second case described, the technical writer who
did not want to write a misleading marketing brochure about his
companys device found himself in conflict with another employee of
the company (the design engineer) as well as with the writers direct
supervisor. Again, the authority issues are probably different for this
writer as an employee than they would be if he were working as an
independent consultant. Independent consultants depend upon the
goodwill of the client much as employees depend upon the goodwill of
their superiors. However, consultants retain more independence from
the organization than do employees. Therefore the relationships of
consultants to organizations and employees to employers operate under
different dynamics. These dynamics could mean that the truth, good
practice, and professional integrity issues are subtly different for these
professionals as well.
The codes address precisely these issues of truth, good practice,
and professional integrity for Category 2 Professionals and Clients and
Category 4 Professionals and Employers, and many of the code
statements fall into both categories. For instance, the American
Medical Writers Association Codes Principle 2 states:
A medical writer should hold accuracy and truth to be primary
considerations and he should provide well balanced, unbiased,
undistorted information to the fullest extent of his capabilities.
He should use authoritative (preferably original) sources as a
basis for his writing, and he should give proper credit, including
adequate documentation.
61


Nothing in that statement distinguishes between employee or consultant
professionals who must uphold that standard of professionalism.
Presumably both must meet the standard. STCs Code states, "I
therefore recognize my responsibility to communicate technical
information truthfully, clearly, and economically." Again, this statement
does not distinguish between employee and the self-employed
professional.
The area of conflict, then, that the case studies emphasize so
heavily occurs primarily in those relationships in which an employee
technical communicator finds herself or himself. Underneath the
relationship dilemmas we can find the dilemmas about truth, accuracy,
and good practice. As a matter of fact, the dilemmas about truth,
accuracy, and good practice may be seen as causing the relationship
dilemmas in the case studies. However, since all the case studies
present employee dilemmas, they may signal the need for research to
address the unique problems faced by employee professionals in
meeting professional standards called for in the codes. As described in
the case studies, often the problem facing an employee professional in
meeting professional standards is related to authority issues between
the employee and her employer, whether it be a direct supervisor or
others in positions of power. The codes do not address how an
employee may resolve a conflict with authority.
The duplication of code statements in Category 2 Professionals
and Clients and Category 4 Professionals and Employers, compared
with zero case studies in Category 2 and 100% in Category 4, raises an
issue with the Ethics Framework. The Ethics Framework may not be as
effective as possible due to the organization of Bayles categories. As
62


mentioned, the issues of truth, accuracy, and good practice would seem
important to both employee and self-employed professionals, regardless
of their affiliation. Therefore it might make the Ethics Framework
more effective to split the issue of professional competence and
integrity apart from the issue of professional role as self-employed or
employee.
Category 5 Obligations to the Profession (research and reform;
publishing; and respect for the profession) falls fourth in the percentage
of code statements assigned to it, and contains no case studies. Since
this category contains subtopics of publishing and research in addition
to the subtopic of respect for the profession, it would seem an
important category for both codes to address and case studies to
examine. The code statements that do fall here mostly address
themselves to behaving honorably towards other members of the
profession and helping develop the profession. Typical of the broad
statements common to this section are those found in STCs Code:
Respect the work of colleagues, knowing that seldom is
only one communications solution right and all others
wrong.
Promote a climate that encourages the exercise of profes-
sional judgment and that attracts talented individuals to
careers in technical communication.
One other statement addresses research and another admonishes
members not to exploit the association or colleagues for financial gain.
Yet there must be numerous ethical issues surrounding research and
publication which neither codes nor case studies address. For example,
many journals use peer reviewers to review articles submitted for
63


publication. They also require an author to not submit an article which
the journal is considering for publication to any other publication.
What should a reviewer do who learns of an article submitted to two
journals at the same time? Are there implications if the reviewer does
not notify the journal editor? Are there implications if there is an
investigation and the authors and/or reviewers name becomes part of
the public record? The few broad code statements that do fall here
give little, if any, guidance for specific situations that technical
communicators face.
In conclusion, the total focus of the case studies on only one
category of professional ethics problems is too lopsided, no matter how
many technical communicators are employees. It hardly seems likely
that employer relationships cause the only ethical dilemmas for
technical communicators. In any profession peer discussion of ethical
issues in all areas can provide valuable guidance. In a newly developing
profession such as technical communication, such peer discussion
develops the groundwork for the professions stance on important
ethical problems.
The case studies in particular can provide a useful forum for
professionals to debate ethical issues affecting everyone. Therefore,
case studies addressing subtopics in all categories would be useful.
Those subtopics could be debated, options explored, and solutions
discussed without committing the entire profession to a policy. If the
case studies addressed a variety of examples of a particular problem,
the resulting debate would likely result in a range of options and points
of view. A body of such debate and opinion would also form an
excellent basis for developing more material for a code of ethics. The
64


material in the codes that does exist is too broad to be of real use in
the concrete dilemmas in which communicators may find themselves.
While it is appropriate that codes delineate broad principles, they could
be more applicable to real world dilemmas.
Discrepancies Between Codes and Articles
Category 2 Professionals and Clients contains the highest
percent (32%) of the code statements and only 10% of the articles.
Category 4 Professionals and Employers contains 30% of the code
statements and 13% of the articles. And Category 5 Obligations to
the Profession contains only 11% of the code statements and 35% of
the articles. Why is there such a discrepancy between the emphasis of
the codes of ethics and the emphasis of the articles published by
researchers in the field? In particular, why does Category 5 hold so
much interest for researchers and receive so little attention from the
codes? Why does Category 2 contain so many code statements and is
the subject of so little attention from researchers? While the codes
emphasize professionalism and integrity on the part of professionals in
relation to those for whom they work, the articles reflect a definite lack
in interest in those and most other subtopics of professional-client and
professional-employer relationships. Many of the articles that did fall
into Categories 2 and 4 addressed the efficiency, productivity, and
processes of group or team work. Researchers are particularly
interested in this subject. For example, one article proposes that
including a technical communicator on the software development team
may help solve software documentation problems and even contribute
to more effective software development (Bresko, 1991). Implications
65


for software development are improved efficiency in the development
cycle and increased user satisfaction. This article also reports on the
results of a survey of software development managers to learn how they
perceive and use technical writers. Another article describes the
organization of a large publications group, claiming that a team of
specialists makes it easier to produce good documentation (Abshire &
Culberson, 1985). This article discusses the role of the team in relation
to team members and staff in the rest of the organization. A third
representative article by Allen, Atkinson, Morgan, Moore, and Snow
(1987) describes research conducted with writers in collaborative work
settings and a resulting typology of shared-document collaborative
groups and definition of interactive writing. This article does not
address specific issues relating to either employers or clients of
technical communication groups.
The emphasis of these articles show that researchers can focus
on an area of particular interest to themselves, but which may not be an
area of general emphasis for others in the field. Very few articles
treated issues of professional competence that would fall into these
categories.
One subject in particular in Category 4 Professionals and
Employers that was of interest to authors was organizational
communication issues as they relate to technical communicators. For
example, Winsor (1990) writes about what it means to know and to pass
on information from the point of view of the sociology of technology
and rhetoric in relation to communication breakdown among engineers,
scientists, and managers surrounding the Challenger explosion. These
professionals were the technical communicators who were writing
66


memos to each other and to other decision-makers about the problems
with the O rings. The ethical issues involved in the space shuttle
Challenger explosion encompass technical communication, employees
versus employers and clients, and the difference between telling true
information and communicating danger. In another article, Harrison
and Debs (1988) use a systems approach to organizational theory in
discussing the role of technical communicators in organizations.
Identifying technical communicators as "boundary spanners" describes
the relationship a technical communicator has with supervisors, peers,
and clients. While these organizational issues are interesting to
researchers, the code statements do not specifically address
organizational communication.
When examining the code statements placed in Categories 2 and
4, we have seen that they focus heavily on values such as truth,
accuracy, and the professionals responsibility to uphold professional
values (remember STCs Code? "I therefore recognize my responsibility
to communicate technical information truthfully, clearly, and
economically"). The codes seem to deal with traditional professional
values, broadly drawn. Other code statements in Categories 2 and 4
deal with values that are shared with other professions and may have
been borrowed, at least conceptually, from other codes. For instance,
IABCs Code statement 2 declares that "Professional communicators will
not use any information that has been generated or appropriately
acquired by a business for another business without permission.
Further, communicators should attempt to identify the source of
information to be used." This injunction suggests the long-standing
67


academic injunction against plagiarism that students learn in school
beginning in elementary grades and continuing through college.
Yet, the bulk of the articles that did fall into Categories 2 and 4
treat issues not dealt with or dealt with indirectly by the codes. Issues
of collaborative writing and organizational communication
responsibilities carry more interest to the researchers publishing articles.
Perhaps the code statements in Categories 2 Professionals and Clients
and 4 Professionals and Employers are so broad and non-controversial
that the issues they address do not cause problems which cause much
concern for practitioners or researchers. Does anyone disagree with the
professional value of communicating information accurately? It is also
possible that in developing the codes, the association committees
borrowed material from similar codes in similar professions. As
described earlier, the first code developed for technical communication
was adapted from an engineering code of ethics. Consequently, the
material in the codes might not address the particular issues of concern
to technical communication. Another possibility is that one purpose for
developing the codes was to enhance the credibility of the profession.
Therefore, the intent of some of the code statements may be to
reassure those outside the field that technical communicators will
behave honorably and that they deserve respect.
However, the research taking place focuses on subjects of
interest to academicians and professionals themselves. If the codes,
then, address the outsiders view of the profession, research and case
studies address the interests of the insiders. These differences in focus
and purpose would explain the discrepancy in emphasis. The challenge
would then become to integrate the results of research and peer
68


discussion into the codes on an ongoing basis, thereby making the codes
useful for practitioners.
Category 5 Obligations to the Profession (research and reform;
publishing; and respect for the profession) contains the largest
percentage of articles assigned to a category, and falls fourth in the
percentage of code statements assigned. This category interests
researchers the most by far, yet does not carry nearly the same
emphasis in the codes of ethics. The articles assigned to Category 5 fall
into four subtopics; research, publishing, respect for the profession, and
defining technical communication as a profession.
The subtopic of research contains articles such as MacNealys
review (1990) of research in technical communication as reported in
two 1989 conference proceedings. Reviewing articles published in the
International Technical Communication Conference (ITCC) proceed-
ings and the International Professional Communication Conference
(IPCC), MacNealy concludes that systematic research is limited. More
typically, she found that most research reported was descriptive and
prescriptive (how-to). She concludes with recommendations for helping
to develop a more rigorous approach to research in technical
communication.
Other articles describe how to use different research
methodologies. Halpern (1988) describes how qualitative research can
benefit technical communication as a profession and gives examples of
how to conduct such research. Moorhead (1987) describes how to use
ethnographic methods to conduct research in technical communication
as a balance to more typical experiments and surveys. These articles
describe types of research, and the state of research in technical
69


communication. They do not examine ethical issues for technical
communication research per se. However, the only code statement
dealing with research comes from the APWC and does address an
ethical issue for research. APWCs Standards statement 4e says "In
dealing with materials written by participants in a consulting program,
the consultant agrees to E. Conduct research involving the writing of
employees of a client organization only with the prior knowledge and
approval of the client organization." So, while there is interest in
writing about research, it does not seem to focus on ethical issues.
And, though the codes do not generally deal with the research issue, the
APWC statement does address a common ethics research issue, that of
subject consent.
The subtopic of publishing includes issues such as peer review of
journal articles, how to write for publication, and the role of publication
in professional development. Estrin (1975) and Patterson (1975)
discuss why to write for publication. Both cite professional
development, rewards such as payment and prestige, and personal
satisfaction. White (1979) describes a method for analyzing journal
publication styles and increasing chances of article acceptance.
Parberry (1989) wrote a guide describing the role of a referee for a
scientific journal and outlining the process for new referees. A survey
of journal editors (Davis, 1985) reveals who supports professional
journals, how editors select articles for publication, common
characteristics of rejected articles, and recommendations for publishing.
Hess (1975) criticizes the article review process, claiming that it
encourages orthodoxy and discourages publication of unusual
discoveries. This is one article that raises a potential ethical issue, that
70


of the review process for accepting articles for publication. However,
there seems to be little debate in the literature about specific ethical
issues in publishing, though general interest in the subject runs high.
No code statements address publishing issues.
Under the subtopic of respect for the profession, many articles
address issues of professional status, prestige, and pay. Smith (1980,
1985a, 1985b, 1988) addresses this range of issues in a series of
editorials on training and curriculum, remuneration as a measure of
professional status, the importance of networking, and the difficulties
technical communication faces developing itself as a profession.
Rochester (1988) reviews the process of professionalization and
analyzes where technical communication falls in the process and what
still needs to happen for it to become recognized as a full-fledged
profession. And, as late as 1989, Hill wrote an editorial about
professional status and what technical communicators should do to
advance the professions development.
The broadly worded code statements addressing respect for the
profession generally call on professionals to support and work for the
advancement of the profession. The STC Code states that technical
communicators should "Promote a climate that encourages the exercise
of professional judgment and that attracts talented individuals to
careers in technical communication." The APWC Standards statement 7
states "In relating to other writing consultants, the consultant agrees to
support and advance the writing consultant profession, especially by
acting as a mentor to other consultants." This subtopic, respect for the
profession, holds quite a bit of interest for those who write articles, and
most of the code statements in Category 5 Obligations to the
71


Profession fall here, as well. This is obviously not an area of
discrepancies, and is probably not an area calling for immediate
attention in further research.
Finally, the subtopic of defining technical communication and its
role in society contains a large group of articles. Little and McLaren
(1987) conducted a pilot survey of technical writers in San Diego
County from which they developed a profile of respondents. Stoner
and Richter (1990) analyzed technical communication against the
concept of Kuhnian paradigms in an attempt to define or uncover a
technical communication paradigm. And Whitburn (1977) calls for
bridging the gap between science and the humanities, particularly
English and communication studies, in order to develop technical
communication to its fullest potential. The issue of the role and
definition of technical communication are the subject of many articles.
While the codes do not specifically address defining the profession or
its role in society, there is certainly precedent for them to do so. The
STC Code comes closest in its introductory paragraph where it states
that technical communicators are "bridges." However, that statement is
not really a clear statement of role like the one found in the American
Nurses Association Code for Nurses: "Nursing encompasses the
promotion and restoration of health, the prevention of illness, and the
alleviation of suffering" (Callahan, 1988, p. 451). Given the interest of
the profession in the subject, it certainly would be possible to develop
the definition of technical communication in more detail for insertion in
a code of ethics.
What might we conclude from looking at the paucity of code
statements in Category 5 Obligations to the Profession in comparison
72


with the proliferation of articles covering such a range of subtopics? It
seems clear that the interest of those academicians and professionals
who conduct research or develop theory resides strongly in issues
relating to their identity as a profession. Many of the articles describe
how their subject (publishing articles, defining technical communication,
conducting more and/or better research) will contribute to the
advancement of technical communication as a profession. It makes
sense that those people working in a field want that field to be taken
seriously and respected by society. Conversely, the newness of the field
and need for its development might also explain the reason for so few
code statements in Category 5 Obligations to the Profession. When
the codes were developed, professionals may not have had a thorough
sense of what ethical issues might pertain to technical communication.
An STC committee developed the Code for Communicators in the mid-
to-late 1970s. After 15 years of further research (and rapid expansion
of the field) we reasonably might have a greater sense of what
important issues a code of ethics for technical communicators should
address.
Another possible reason for the discrepancy between code
statements and articles in Category 5 is that the academicians and
professionals who publish articles have a different agenda than those
who work at developing a code of ethics. One great motivation behind
research and publishing is professional advancement. Certainly
publishing is important to an academic career, and it can enhance a
commercial career as well. Participating in developing a code of ethics
does not provide the same career enhancement. However, enhancing
societys view of the profession does provide one motivation for
73


developing a code of ethics. Society may find a code which emphasizes
professional integrity towards clients and employers (Categories 2 and
4) much more impressive than a code that emphasizes the manner in
which professionals treat each other and their profession.
Discrepancies Between Articles and Case Studies
Category 4 Professionals and Employers (employees obliga-
tions to employers; employees obligations to employers versus
obligations to others; authority and conflict; employer obligations; and
group/team work) ranks fourth in percent of article assignments and
first (and only) in case studies. Why do the case studies exclusively
focus on Category 4 and the articles barely scratch the surface of most
of the subtopics in that category? As discussed above, the focus in the
case studies reflects an overwhelming concern with professional
employee issues, often dealing with authority relationships and the issue
of who is the client. Only 13% of the articles fall into Category 4 and
those mostly deal with issues of group and team work and
organizational communication issues relating to technical communica-
tion, such as the article about technical communicators as boundary
spanners (Harrison & Debs, 1988) which was mentioned earlier. This
discrepancy clearly shows that practitioners experience concern about
issues for which almost no relevant research or theory development is
taking place. And it seems entirely likely that this discrepancy reflects
the fact that it is often academicians who conduct research and publish
papers, and that their work reflects their world and interests. The case
studies, developed by practitioners, clearly reflect the strains of
74


maintaining professional integrity in the face of multiple client/
authority relationships typically experienced on the job.
Category 5 Obligations to the Profession (research and reform;
publishing; and respect for the profession) contains no case studies, and
ranks first (35%) in the percentage of articles assigned to it. As
discussed earlier, the research taking place to advance the profession is
not surprising, given the investment that researchers have in a well-
respected profession. The fact that no case studies address this area is
problematic. However, this may reflect the issues described earlier,
that the case studies were developed by a self-selected group with
narrow interests, or that the earlier case studies influenced the
development of the later ones.
Summary
The categorization effort attempted to discover whether using
the Ethics Framework would identify meaningful research issues in
ethics for technical communication. If meaningful research issues were
identified, recommendations for further research into those issues will
contribute to advancing discourse in ethics for technical communication.
Specifically we examined three issues:
1. Do the codes of ethics address concerns of practitioners
who develop case studies?
2. Do researchers who publish articles have the same
interests as practitioners?
3. Does the focus of the codes reflect the interests and
concerns of the current research and the case studies in
the field?
75


Categorizing the code statements resulted in 115 statement
assignments. Two categories received by far the largest percentage of
statement assignments. Category 2 Professionals and Clients received
32% of the statement assignments and Category 4 Professionals and
Employers received 30% of the assignments. The other categories all
received under 20% of the assignments.
Categorizing the case studies from Intercom resulted in 100% of
the case studies assigned to Category 4 Professionals and Employers.
Categorizing the articles into the Framework resulted in a
different distribution. In first place, Category 5 Obligations to the
Profession received 35% of the article assignments while in second
place, Category 7 Ethics received 17% of the article assignments.
Category 3 Third Parties received 16% while falling fourth and fifth
place respectively were Categories 4 Professionals and Employers with
13%, and 2 Professionals and Clients with 10% of the article
assignments.
The categories containing the greatest discrepancies in the
percentage of code statements, case studies, and articles assigned were
then compared to determine if meaningful research issues could be
identified from the discrepancies. Between codes and case studies,
Category 2 Professionals and Clients received 32% of code statements
and no case studies. Category 4 Professionals and Employers
contained 100% of the case studies and 30% of the code statements.
Between articles and codes, Category 5 Obligations to the Profession
contained 35% of the articles and only 11% of the code statements
while Category 2 Professionals and Clients contained 32% of the code
statements and only 10% of the articles. And, finally, the discrepancies
76


between articles and case studies occurred in Category 4 Professionals
and Employers where 100% of the case studies and 13% of the articles
were categorized.
Possible explanations for the discrepancies were examined, and
the resulting conclusions and recommendations are presented in
Chapter 4.
77


CHAPTER 4
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The goal of this study was to answer two questions:
1. Why is a comprehensive framework needed for structuring and
evaluating research and advancing ethics discourse for technical
communication?
2. Can a comprehensive framework help us identify meaningful
research issues in ethics for technical communication?
The reviews of the Society for Technical Communications (STC)
anthology and the three ethics scholarship reviews in Chapter 1
demonstrated the weakness and lack of direction of the existing
research in ethics for technical communication. Based on this
demonstration, I then proposed using the Ethics Framework as a
comprehensive framework for structuring and evaluating research and
facilitating ethics discourse for technical communication.
Next I categorized ethics articles collected through an extensive
literature search and conducted a test of the reliability of the
categorization procedure to demonstrate that the Ethics Framework is
comprehensive. Categorizing case studies and codes of ethics along
with the research articles allowed me to identify some meaningful
research issues in ethics for technical communication.
78


Conclusions from Exploratory Research
The Ethics Framework
Bayles outline of issues from Professional Ethics formed the basis
of the Ethics Framework. The conceptual premise of the Ethics
Framework is that of professional relationships to clients, to
employers, to third parties, to the profession itself. Categorizing articles
to explore the reliability of the Framework resulted in three
conclusions.
1. The Ethics Framework does provide a comprehensive
framework for structuring and evaluating research and
advancing ethics discourse in technical communication.
The Framework provided a broad spectrum of topics
within which to categorize the collected articles. The
categories also easily contained the codes of ethics and
case studies.
By providing a context for grouping articles, the
Framework creates the possibility for analysis. For
example, we saw that issues of professional competence
has generated little research while issues of group/team
work generated much more interest for researchers.
What does this mean for a profession that is debating
licensing and credentialing issues? Would research
designed to develop a definition of competence in
technical communicators help the debate of whether to
license them? And, if so, how to do it?
2. The Ethics Framework needs to be modified and refined
to better reflect the nature of technical communication
79


and issues of importance to the field. As a result of the
extensive literature search, three additional subtopics were
identified and added to the Framework for the
exploratory research. In an effort to keep the Framework
as simple as possible for the initial exploration, the
additional subtopics were added to the existing
Framework. The importance of the subtopics of
group/team work, publishing, and the role and definition
of technical communication became evident by the
number of articles collected which dealt with those issues.
Since those subtopics related to already existing
categories, they were added to those appropriate
categories in the Framework to facilitate the research.
For instance, publishing fit into Category 5 Obligations
to the Profession since publishing articles in professional
journals both enhances the knowledge base for the
profession and contributes to ones professional
reputation. Group/team work was included in Category 2
- Professionals and Clients and in Category 4 -
Professionals and Employers since the situations calling
for group/team work occur when technical communicators
work for either clients or employers. Another category
was also added, Category 7 Ethics, to contain articles
specifically discussing ethics. Ideally, the whole
Framework can be useful for identifying ethics issues in a
range of areas. However, the group of articles in
Category 7 were philosophical and exploratory and
80


formed a logical unit as articles specifically identifying
ethics as the main topic. The topics which this research
excluded (international or bilingual communication,
teaching ethics, and how-to articles) may also belong in an
expanded version of the Framework. Further research
and development is recommended in order to modify and
refine the Ethics Framework so that it reflects the field of
technical communication as accurately as possible.
Actually, such effort might reasonably continue as the
field evolves and changes.
3. The suitability of the structure of Ethics Framework needs
to be examined. Category 2 Professionals and Clients
and Category 4 Professionals and Employers both
contain the topic of professional trustworthiness the
professionals competence and character. They also both
contain the topic of group/team work. Duplicating the
subtopics in two categories can create confusion. To
make the Framework less confusing and most useful, it
would be important to structure it so that subtopics were
narrowly focused and not duplicated. While Bayles
outline was a useful starting point, it is important to
remember that it is only that a starting point.
Additional research and manipulation of the Ethics
Framework might result in something that is quite
different than what we have started with here.
81


Research Issues in Ethics for Technical Communication
I compared the results of categorizing the codes of ethics of four
professional writing/communication associations with the case studies
and with the research articles. Each comparison highlighted differences
in the priorities for each type of material. As a result of these
comparisons, I recommend the following areas for further research.
Expand the focus of case study material. The exclusive focus of
case studies on problems of professional employees is too lopsided.
While we will not know for certain why the case studies overemphasize
one category, we can encourage those who develop the case studies to
examine the range of issues to which they look for material. The Ethics
Framework helps define other meaningful issues for case studies.
Research interest seems high in Category 5 (Obligations to the
Profession) which would provide a fruitful set of topics, such as
publishing dilemmas, for developing case studies. However, the Ethics
Framework does not provide the only method for identifying potential
case study material. Articles in professional journals might suggest
scenarios for case studies. For example, a number of articles discuss
communication breakdowns leading to the Challenger explosion. These
could make some powerful hypothetical case studies. Case studies from
other disciplines might also contain pertinent issues for technical
communicators.
The overemphasis of the case studies on the professional
employee does suggest issues that would benefit from further research.
Clearly, the case studies demonstrate concern with the issues of
authority relationships and role conflicts between employee obedience
82


and professional autonomy. Further research examining those
particular problems for technical communicators could provide valuable
guidance to the profession.
Expand focus of research in categories of the Ethics Framework.
Over one-third of the collected articles fell into one of seven categories
of the Ethics Framework. It seems self-serving that this category is
Category 5 Obligations to the Profession, addressing a professionals
obligations to the profession. While general calls for more and better
research do not always define where more research would be useful, the
results of this studys categorizations define some meaningful areas for
further research. The codes of ethics emphasize Categories 2
(Professionals and Clients) and 4 (Professionals and Employers), and
the case studies emphasize Category 4. As a beginning, more ethics
research should focus on topics found in those two categories. In
particular, meaningful research could examine authority issues in
professional/client or professional/employer relationships.
We can see the benefit of structured discourse in ethics for
technical communication in the above two recommendations. It was by
examining the case studies in the context of the Ethics Framework that
illuminated this area of concern for one group of technical
communicators. Examining the articles in the same context of the
Ethics Framework showed us that not much research is being conducted
that will offer help or solutions for this concern.
Refine and develop STCs Code for Communicators. Develop
methodology to use codes of ethics to generate research and to
83


incorporate results of research into Code. Using the four codes of
ethics from professional writing associations provided a suitable amount
of material for this studys purposes. STCs Code for Communicators
alone does not contain very much material that might provide guidance
for a technical communicator looking for such guidance. Further
research could use the Ethics Framework and four codes to clarify
three issues:
1. Define where weaknesses and strengths exist in the
current codes.
2. Discover from practitioners what areas of ethics for
technical communication they would find useful for
further research and development.
3. Incorporate useful material from the other three codes
into the Code for Communicators.
The codes of ethics and the research articles emphasize different
areas of the Ethics Framework. One question to answer is, Which
areas of the Ethics Framework are most important relative to
developing the Code for Communicators? An important issue for
further work is how to design methods to link ongoing research with
developing the Code for Communicators. The profession will only find
the Code useful to the extent that it addresses specific areas of concern.
Researchers can help develop the Code by conducting research and
participating in developing ethical theory and practice. By increasing
research efforts in those areas that are essential, perhaps a more well-
rounded, relevant code of ethics will emerge.
The two sides of this work complement each other and should
be undertaken together. To accomplish such a task would take a
84


commitment at an institutional level, as would be appropriately
undertaken by the STC. An ongoing commitment to developing a
useful and pertinent code for practitioners would enhance the
credibility of technical communication as a profession far more than
just having a code for the sake of having one.
While separate associations designed for specific purposes
(medical writers, writing consultants) publish each of the four codes
used, the results of the recommended research might be useful for the
broader profession of technical/professional/business communication as
a whole. Another related recommendation would be for these related
writing professions to work together at enhancing and developing useful
codes for professional communicators.
Ethics (codes, theory, and research) for technical communication
contributes to our professional credibility and helps technical
communicators practice their profession responsibly and with dignity.
Providing structure and direction to ethics discourse will increase the
effectiveness of our efforts at developing ethical theory and practice for
technical communication.
85


Appendix A
The Ethics Framework


The Ethics Framework
Category 1
Availability of
Obligations and
Service
Fees
o Competitive bidding
o Fee splitting
o Contingent fees
o Percentage fees
Publicity
o Advertising
o Solicitation
Specialization
Accepting
Immoral Clients
o Professional freedom
o Immoral clients

Category 2
Obligations Betweeen
Professionals and
Clients
Professional-
Client
Pelationship
o Agency
o Contract
o Friendship
o Paternalism
o Fiduciary
Trustworthiness
o Honesty
0 Candor
0 Competence
0 Diligence
o Loyalty
o Fairness
o Discretion
Obligation I
of Clients I
o Keep commitments
0 Truthfulness
o Not to request
unethical behavior
Group/Team
Work
0 Subject matter
experts
o Team development,
writing, editing
Category 3
Obligations to
Third Parties
Third Parties
o Truthfulness
o Non-malfeasance
o Fairness
Clients vs
Others
o Legal issues
o Conduct issues
o Consumer perspective
Copyright,
Trademark
Confidentiality
Category 4
Obligations Between
Professionals and
Employers
Employee
Obligations
o Fiduciary obligations;
competence, diligence
honesy, candor,
discretions, loyalty
o Obligations of
obedience
Group/Team
Work
0 Subject matter
experts
0 Team development,
writing, editing
Employers vs
Others
0 Clients
o Third parties
0 Other employees
Authority and I
Conflict I
0 Bureaucracy vs
professionalism
o Authority
relationships
o Subjects of conflicts;
technical, moral,
conscientious refusal
0 Organizational
disobedience
Employer
Obligations
o Universal norms
0 Role-related norms
87


The Ethics Framework (cont'd)
Category 5
Obligations to
the Profession
Research and I
Reform I
o Funding
Human subjects
o Significance
Category 6
Ensuring Compliance
Controls
o Admission to
profession
o Discipline
Category 7
Ethics
Theory &
Philosophy
Practice of
Ethics
o Reform
Publishing
o Peer review
o Writing articles
Respect for
the Profession
o Professionalism; types
of clients, providing
references, exhibiting
respect for peers
0 Compensation
Collegiality
Self-Regulation
o Alternatives to self-
regulation;
administrative
agencies, malpractice
suits, civilian boards
Motivations
o Effective deterrence
o Education
o Work setting
Ethics How-To
o Writing
o Illustration
o Readability
Case Studies
Codes
Ethics &
Rhetoric
o Definition and role
of technical
communication
88


Appendix B
Validation Procedure and Coding Sheets


GOAL
To categorize a set of articles about topics which might be important to
issues of professional ethics in technical communication.
The categories defined are based upon the work of Michael Bayles
Professional Ethics, though I have expanded upon them somewhat.
PROCEDURE
Review each article as follows:
1. Read the abstract and the summary. If these do not exist, read
the first paragraph and last paragraph. If the first paragraph
does not introduce the topic, and if the last paragraph does not
summarize the topic, then read the first section and last section,
using the subtitles as dividers.
2. Next, read the section headings throughout the article.
If you feel confident that you have identified whether the article
fits in the category, stop with step 2. If you are still unsure
about whether the article fits, continue with step 3.
3. Read the topic sentences of each paragraph throughout the
article. 4
4. On the Category Coding Sheet, write yes or no beside the
number of the article to indicate whether the article should be
included in that category or not.
90


Full Text

PAGE 1

A COMPREHENSIVE FRAMEWORK FOR ETHICS DISCOURSE IN TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION by Katherine Ruhmkorff Wegner B.F.A., Wittenberg University, 1979 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science Technical Communication 1993

PAGE 2

@)1992 by Katherine Ruhmkorff Wegner All rights reserved.

PAGE 3

This thesis for the Master of Science degree by Katherine Ruhmkorff Wegner has been approved for the Department of English by

PAGE 4

Wegner, Katherine Ruhmkorff (M.S., Technical Communication) A Comprehensive Framework for Ethics Discourse in Technical Communication Thesis directed by Associate Professor James F. Stratman ABSTRACT This study determined the need for a framework for structuring and evaluating research and for advancing ethics discourse for technical communication. The study proposed a framework, categorized ethics literature using the framework, and used the categorizations to identify meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. A literature review of ethics scholarship in three related fields, technical communication, business communication, and speech communica tion, highlighted the benefits of a framework. A review of the Society for Technical Communication's Anthology Series: Technical Communication and Ethics along with the literature review of ethics scholarship, demonstrated the weaknesses of ethics discourse in technical communication. A framework comprising seven categories was developed based upon Michael Bayles' Professional Ethics. Three sets of materials were categorized using the framework: (1) articles from professional journals which were identified using manual and computerized database searches; (2) codes of ethics from four professional writing associations; and (3) ethics case studies from the Society for Technical Communication's member iv

PAGE 5

newsletter. Conducting a reliability test validated the categorization procedure. Results of the categorizations revealed weaknesses in the material on ethics for technical communication. For example, there is a need for research which explores ethics problems that technical communication employees experience with their employers. The weaknesses in the material demonstrate a critical need for the profession to engage in ongoing discourse about ethics. Study conclusions include the finding that the Ethics Framework does provide a comprehensive framework for structuring and evaluating research, one which can advance ethics discourse in technical communica tion. The Ethics Framework is a preliminary effort and needs further modification and refinement to best serve technical communication. Meaningful research issues identified include the need to expand the focus of ethics case study material available to technical communicators. All case studies fell into one category of the Framework. The focus of research also needs to be expanded since over one-third of the collected articles fell into just one of the seven categories in the Ethics Framework. The STC Code for Communicators needs to be enhanced. A method for generating ethics research and incorporating research results into the Code also needs to be developed. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Signed T James F. Stratman v

PAGE 6

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank Professor James Stratman of the University of Colorado at Denver Department of English for his patience and expert advice throughout the two years it took to complete this thesis. Professors Charles Beck and Mark Yarborough also gave valuable guidance. My team of independent judges, Karen Rabin, Dan Seavert, and Vikki Williams, gave hours of their free time categorizing articles for the reliability test. I tremendously appreciate their willingness to participate. I would like to thank Steve Turner of the Math Department of University of Colorado at Denver for his work on the statistical test assessing the reliability of the categories. Jane Venohr was of invalu able assistance in writing up the description of the reliability test. Michelle Hayes did an expert job creating the graphic representation of the Ethics Framework. And finally, I want to thank my husband, Keith, for two years of support and good humor while I spent most of my free time turning this project into an acceptable thesis. His belief that I should take the time to make it a project of which I could be proud means a great deal. VI

PAGE 7

CONTENTS CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION ..... ; . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Why Is a Comprehensive Framework Important? . . . . . 2 Problems in Recent Scholarship on Ethics and Technical Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Need for Ongoing Discourse . . . . . . . . . . 6 Need to Connect With Ethics Scholarship in Other Fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Need for Consistency and Quality in Technical Communication Ethics Scholarship . . . 8 Previous Literature Reviews of Ethics Scholarship in Related Disciplines and in Technical Communication ....... 9 Developing a Framework for Ethics in Techrtical Communication .......................... 14 Outline of the Remainder of the Thesis ...... o 0 0 o o 0 o o 0 17 2o METHODOLOGY o o o o o o o 0 o o o 0 o o o 0 o o o o o o 0 o o o 0 o o 0 18 Bayles' Professional Ethics as a Comprehensive Framework for Advancing Discourse in Ethics for Technical Communication 0 0 0 o 0 0 0 0 0 o 0 0 0 0 o 0 0 o 0 18 Testing the Framework and Identifying Meaningful Research Issues in Technical Communication 0 0 0 0 28 Conducting Comprehensive Literature Searches o o o o o 30 Ethics Literature Search 0 0 0 0 o o 0 o o o 31 vii

PAGE 8

Professional Issues Literature Search . . . . . . 33 Categorizing the Articles . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Assessing the Reliability of the Categories .............. 37 Categorizing Ethics Cases from Intercom . . . . . . . 40 Categorizing the Codes of Ethics . . . . . . . . . . 41 3. RESULTS OF THE STUDY AND DISCUSSION ........ 43 Results and Discussion of Categorizations Into the Ethics Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Results and Discussion of Categorizing Codes of Ethics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Results and Discussion of Categorizing Ethics Cases in Intercom ...................... 51 Results and Discussion of Categorizing Articles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Comparison of Categorizations of the Codes, Case Studies, and Articles . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Discrepancies Between Codes and Case Studies . . 60 Discrepancies Between Codes and Articles . . . . 65 Discrepancies Between Articles and Case Studies . . 74 Summary ....................................... 75 4. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS . . . . 78 Conclusions from Exploratory Research . . . . . . . . 79 viii

PAGE 9

The Ethics Framework . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Research Issues in Ethics for Technical Communication . . . . . . . . . . 82 APPENDIX A The Ethics Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 B. Validation Procedure and Coding Sheets . . . . . . . 89 C. Codes of Ethics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 D. Categorization of Code Statements . . . . . . . . . 136 BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 IX

PAGE 10

TABLES Table 1. Theoretical Probability and Expected Value of the Event Occurring Based on Binomial Distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 2. Observed Outcome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 3. Categorizations of Codes of Ethics . . . . . . . . . . 46 4. Categorizations of Published Articles . . . . . . . . . 55 5. Areas of Discrepancy Between Articles, Code Statements, and Case Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 X

PAGE 11

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION As technical communication evolves as a profession, we have an obligation to develop our understanding of professional ethics. To develop this understanding, we first need to create a fruitful environ ment in which scholars can define research issues and then study and debate those issues. My goal in this study is to contribute to creating such an environment by answering two questions: 1. Why does technical communication need a comprehensive framework for structuring and evaluating research and discussion of ethics? 2. Can a comprehensive framework help us identify important research issues in ethics for technical communication? In the rest of Chapter 1, I discuss the importance of a framework. I then review two sets of materials: 1) STC's Anthology Series: Technical Communication and Ethics which contains representative published articles in ethics and technical communication and 2) three reviews of ethics scholarship, one from the field of business communication, one from speech communication, and the third from technical communication. The review of the anthology and the technical communication ethics literature review will demonstrate that ethics scholarship in technical communication is scattered and lacking in substance and direction. In addition, the ethics literature reviews of the 1

PAGE 12

related fields of business communication and speech communication demonstrate the quality of scholarship possible if undertaken in the context of a framework. I then offer a comprehensive framework that I believe advances ethics discourse in technical communication. Why Is a Comprehensive Framework Important? A comprehensive framework "can provide a frame of reference, a way of looking at a subject. ... It generally provides a classification of and common language for a subject area; [and] facilitates education about that subject area" (Turner, 1971, p. 20). A framework can help us define important research issues, debate important questions, and develop a coherent understanding of the subject of ethics for te<;:hnical communication. Three articles in which the authors use rhetorical theory as a framework to examine communication ethics (Clark, 1987; Griffin, 1980/1989; Kallendorf & Kallendorf, 1989) demonstrate how a framework can contribute to ethics scholarship. These authors examine ethical implications in the communication relationships between individuals or groups. Such examination has led Kallendorf and Kallendorf (1989) to apply Aristotle's concepts of ethos, logos, and pathos to business communication decisions as a way of developing ethical positions in business communication dilemmas. In another application of rhetorical theory, Clark proposes a rhetorical framework for ethics for technical communication that "places at the center of concern the well-being of all the people who must interact in the process of sharing technical information, the one community to which all participants in the process of communication belong and are 2

PAGE 13

responsible" (1987, p. 194). In the third example, Griffin (1980/1989) explores how rhetorical choices can become ethical choices in certain types of writing, particularly in writing that demands a rhetorical commitment to roles. A commitment to roles, for example, occurs in writing in which an expert gives advice to a non-expert. These three articles develop the common theme that communicators have a responsibility for their communication choices since those choices affect others. In the authors' work, rhetorical theory provides a framework for identifying ethical issues for technical communicators, especially the communicator's responsibility in relationship to others. However, while this is an exciting and creative use of rhetorical theory, it does not go far enough. It does not provide the comprehensive framework we need. The authors do make various recommendations about how to use rhetorical theory. Clark (1987) describes an approach of cooperative dialogue among participants in a given setting; Griffin (1980/1989) describes how a writer should make a rhetorical commit ment to a role; and Kallendorf and Kallendorf (1989) describe their model for making business communication decisions using Aristotle's concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos. However, all of these discussions are broad; and while the authors use concrete examples, they do not provide much instruction for putting their concepts to practical use beyond their examples. In addition, they do not define concrete methods for dealing with other practical ethical dilemmas experienced by professional technical communicators. For instance, these applica tions of rhetorical theory do not address how an employee decides what to do if her employer requests that she write misleading material. In 3

PAGE 14

this situation, the hapless employee faces many conflicts. One conflict, of course, comes from the writer's responsibility to her audience, which the rhetorical theory approaches do address. Other conflicts arise from the employee's responsibility to obey the employer's authority and from her obligation to behave in a manner that brings dignity to her profes sion. (For instance, lying is not usually considered acceptable professional behavior.) These other conflicts do not seem readily solvable using the rhetorical theory approaches described above. Even with such shortcomings, these articles on rhetorical theory and ethics demonstrate good scholarship in technical communication and ethics. Unfortunately, there is not a preponderance of such good scholarship. In the next section I examine an anthology of recent scholarship in technical communication and ethics, and a literature review of scholarship in ethics for technical communication. This examination reveals the shortcomings of scholarship in ethics research in technical communication. We may view these shortcomings as symptoms of the need for a framework to guide research in ethics for technical communication. Problems in Recent Scholarship on Ethics and Technical Communication In 1989, the STC published an anthology on technical communication and ethics. In this anthology, the editors collected articles from professional journals and conference proceedings that con tribute to the professional discussion of ethics and technical communication. The articles span a 10-year range and come from two professional journals (Technical Communication and The Journal of 4

PAGE 15

Technical Writing and Communication) and three professional conference proceedings (the International Technical Communication Conference, the American Business Association Conference, and the Conference on College Composition and Commu nication). This anthology represents the best scholarship that had been published up to 1989, though there have been some notable articles published subsequently (Kallendorf & Kallendorf, 1989; Sudul & Stoner, 1990), and in related journals other than those represented in the anthology (Clark, 1987). This anthology contains many of the early articles on technical communication and ethics from Technical Communication which later articles cite. We may say, therefore, that this anthology represents the _most comprehensive collection of recent scholarship in ethics and technical communication. However, this scholarship suffers shortcomings which are highlighted by the articles collected in the anthology. As Walzer (1989) points out in an article written for the anthology, Complex moral sensibility ... can only be honed by confronting and discussing difficult questions of ethics. The Society has provided many fora for such debate, of which this anthology is the latest. But, with a few exceptions ... that debate has so far tended to move too cavalierly from exhorta tions on the importance of ethics to a consideration of particular examples, without due consideration of the mediating questions concerning the motives, purposes, goals, and efficacy of ethics and of ethics codes. (pp. 104-105) I have identified shortcomings in the scholarship which are detailed below: 1. An ongoing discourse does not exist which addresses issues central to the topic, such as a technical writer's responsibility to 5

PAGE 16

the client or employer versus the writer's responsibility to the audience when these are different entities, or the connection between technical communication and truth. 2. The scholarship in ethics and technical communication is isolated from related fields, such as business communication ethics, which might offer useful information. 3. The quality of the scholarship in ethics and technical communi cation is too inconsistent. Need for On&oin& Discourse Ongoing discourse in research and scholarship can refine knowledge, test theory, and generally contribute to the maturation of an area of inquiry. Three articles from Technical Communication's Special Section on Ethics in 1980, reprinted in the 1989 anthology, demonstrate the lack of ongoing discourse addressing issues central to technical communication and ethics. These articles treat ethics as split into three areas: moral, professional, and legal (Radez, 1980/1989; Sachs, 1980/1989; Shimberg, 1980/1989). They debate how to define ethics for technical communicators, and which of the definitions should hold sway. They offer no reliable definition, yet in subsequent articles (some not included in the anthology), authors either accept the definitions without question (Clark, 1987; Michaelson, 1990), or ignore them "(Walzer, 1989). Whether the definitions are valid, and why, has not been addressed anywhere in the literature beyond these initial three articles. A comprehensive framework would provide a consistent vocabulary and a conceptual structure for researchers to use in discourse with others who share their interests and concerns. 6

PAGE 17

Need to Connect with Ethics Scholarship in Other Fields The newly developing discipline of technical communication is related to other communication fields such as business communication. Rather than create ethics knowledge in isolation, technical communi cation could look to those related disciplines for useful information. And that happens more frequently in some areas of technical commu nication scholarship, namely in rhetoric and linguistic studies. However, we do not see much evidence of cross-disciplinary research in ethics for technical communication. For instance, Reinsch and Lewis have conducted a number of studies in the area of ethics and business communication (Lewis, 1985, 1989; Lewis & Reinsch, 1981/1989, 1983; Lewis & Timmerman, 1985; Lewis & Williams, 1976; Reinsch, 1990). Even given the difference between technical communication and business communication, at least some of the information available through these studies could be useful to technical communication. Certainly the careful. research methodologies the researchers employ would be helpful models for technical communiCators who wish to conduct meaningful research in this area. Yet the anthology, which contains one of Reinsch and Lewis' articles, does not list any other work by either author in the selected bibliography. Consequently, the search becomes more difficult for technical communicators who wish to find related, pertinent studies on which to build. Technical communication, though trying to develop a distinct identity, could still benefit from the experience of older, more developed sister disciplines. A comprehensive framework would provide language and concepts to researchers who could search other disciplines for useful research already conducted. 7

PAGE 18

Need for Consistency and Quality in Technical Communication Ethics Scholarship The anthology contains examples of both superficial and profound scholarship. One article, which discusses the philosophical foundations of ethics (Wicclair & Farkas, 1984/1989), is based on philosophies of ethics. Three articles (Radez, 1980/1989; Sachs, 1980/1989; Shimberg, 1980/1989) simply represent the authors' points of view about what constitutes ethics and what is important about the subject, with no discernable foundation for their opinions. Rubens (1981/1989) reviews history and current thought in his attempt to discuss the past and future of ethics and technical communication. Rubens argues for developing scholarship in technical communication ethics, especially in relation to the ethics of language use. In fact, he makes a case for using guidelines from other disciplines in order to help keep us from reinventing the wheel. Two articles on ethics and rhetoric are opposites on a spectrum of scholarship. Shimberg (1980/ 1989) discusses his view of rhetoric and ethics without defining his terms or supporting any of his arguments. On the other hand, Griffin (1980/1989) articulates his assumptions, defines his terms, and generally supports his thesis that there is an ethical element in the rhetoric of expert writing, especially writing which gives advice. A comprehensive framework would help structure research around a common understanding of issues so that scholars could create depth in their research. The problems described above, lack of ongoing discourse around central issues, not making use of information from related fields, and the inconsistent quality of published work, might not all be solved by a 8

PAGE 19

comprehensive framework if theoreticians and researchers don't use it. However, a framework which allows us to identify important research issues for ethics for technical communication would allow theoreticians and researchers to structure their work into an on-going discourse, thereby refining our understanding of the issues, and ultimately improving the overall quality of published work. The ethics literature reviews in business communication and speech communication examined in the next section reveal the possibilities offered by structuring research in a framework. Previous Literature Reviews of Ethics Scholarship in Related Disciplines and in Technical Communication Examining literature reviews of ethics research and scholarship in other fields provides another indication of the need for a comprehensive framework to structure the discussion of ethics for technical communication. Literature reviews and critiques of ethics scholarship occur in professional journals of related disciplines (Arnett, 1987; Reinsch, 1990). In contrast, the literature of ethics for technical communication contains little of substance by way of literature reviews or critiques of scholarship. For the sake of comparison, let's look at three literature reviews of ethics for three related fields: business communication, speech communication, and technical communication. In the business communication and speech communication examples, Reinsch and Arnett set forth the purpose and scope of their reviews; they detail and define categories; and they provide analysis, conclusions, and recommendations. By providing a structure, these authors create the possibility of discourse --other.s can agree or disagree with the 9

PAGE 20

structure as they see fit. They can refine, revise, or suggest something wholly different. Both Reinsch in business communication and Arnett in speech communication have created frameworks within which to discuss their work. In our first example from the field of business communication, Reinsch (1990) conducted a literature review of ethics research. Business communication is communication intended "to inform, to ask, and to persuade" (Quible, Johnson, & Matt, 1981, p. 13), which takes place "within the business environment" (Harcourt, Krizan, & Merrier, 1987, p. 3). Reinsch characterizes his work as a critical review of publications produced by the Association for Business Communication (ABC) for certain defined time frames. Then, in addition to reviewing themes of articles, he categorizes the articles, and analyzes themes, concepts, and philosophical stances contained within them. The articles are broken into two categories --pedagogical and non-pedagogical. In the pedagogical category Reinsch has grouped the articles into three subcategories based on chronology and subject. The first group includes what he calls "early concerns" (p. 253), and showed the first evidence of interest in ethics in the 1950s. The second group of articles specifically recommends that undergraduate and graduate business communication courses teach ethical use of language. The third group of articles treats methods of teaching business communication ethics. Reinsch's non-pedagogical category also contains three groupings of articles. The first group of articles he describes as "anecdotal accounts of moral practices" (Reinsch, 1990, p. 261); the second group of articles explains ethical concepts or principles; and the third group of articles describes empirical research studies. For example, three studies 10

PAGE 21

in the third group "assessed relationships between moral attitudes and other aspects of business behavior" (p. 263). Reinsch concludes that the dominant method of empirical research is an attitude and behavior survey (p. 265). Reinsch summarizes his work by listing issues he has culled from the literature in both groups. For instance, he lists five issues upon which he believes the authors in the pedagogical section agree. One such issue is that "rhetorical practices have a moral dimension and may be categorized as ranging from the admirable to the reprehensible" (Reinsch, 1990, p. 256). He also lists three issues where there was disagreement or which were left unresolved, including the issue of "how to distinguish between good and bad moral behavior in business communication" (p. 256). Reinsch's summary continues with descriptive analysis and critiques of the scholarship. In the pedagogical section he describes the limits to the pedagogical discussion. For example, he states that "a relatively large amount of scholarly effort has been expended to defend the 'safe' claim that ethics should be included in business communication ... while more controversial issues have not been addressed" (Reinsch, 1990, p. 260). The non-pedagogical section receives the same treatment. Arnett (1987) conducted a review of 70 years of speech com munication ethics scholarship in speech communication journals. Speech communication is "the study of the nature, processes, and effects of human symbolic interaction" (McBath & Jeffrey, 1978/1983, p. 13). Arnett defined a framework for his review in which he 1) defined communication ethics, 2) described five categories of communication ethics, and 3) discussed the principle of communication ethics as a 11

PAGE 22

public/private dialectic. He then continued by categorizing the articles into five groups, three on the public side and two on the private side of the dialectic. On the public side of the dialectic, the first group, democratic communication ethics, includes articles about "a public 'process' ethic, an open airing of diverse opinions and control by majority vote" (Arnett, 1987, p. 46). In the second group, universal-humanitarian ethics articles "also [seek] a 'public' ethical posture ... a 'public announcement of principles,' not a 'public decision-making process"' (p. 48). Codes, procedures, and standards make up the third group on the public side. Articles in this group included descriptions of "rating scales, standards, codes of ethics, procedures for argument, testing and/ or measurement of values, ethical proof, and guidelines" (p. 50). On the private side of the dialectic, the contextual ethics articles treat "reliance on individual discernment at the moment of decision" (Arnett, 1987, p. 51). And, finally, the narrative ethics group treats communication ethics with a storytelling orientation. Mter summa rizing each group, Arnett analyzed the significance for communication studies whether the topic area of the group was likely to generate further inquiry and new theory (narrative ethics), or was necessary for teaching agreed-upon values (democratic ethics). Arnett's extensive review of speech communication ethics scholarship d-emonstrates the benefits of a framework. By categorizing the articles into five groups, Arnett could conduct analyses and draw conclusions. Both activities depend on structuring raw material for comparison. Again, the benefit for future researchers is that analysis and conclusions provide material for further work. For example, do 12

PAGE 23

speech communication scholars agree with Arnett's conclusion that "application, not new theory construction, is most likely to emerge from [the universal/humanitarian] approach to communication ethics" (1987, p. 50)? If not, someone who disagrees is free to debate Arnett in the literature. The benefit of the framework in Reinsch's literature review is that the reader gains a sense of understanding some larger research issues in business communication ethics. Because Reinsch has catego rized the articles into two groups, pedagogical and non-pedagogical, he can then conduct an analysis of articles in the groups and provide critiques of the scholarship. To a future researcher such categorization and analysis is grist for the mill. For instance, Reinsch limited his review to the literature produced by one association. Would Reinsch's categorizations and conclusions hold for literature in the same subject area but published elsewhere? However, the best corresponding example of literature review scholarship in technical communication ethics accomplishes none of what Arnett and Reinsch accomplished. In the proceedings of the 36th International Technical Communication Conference, Boyet (1989) conducted a review of articles dealing with technical communication and ethics over an 11-year period. She does not clarify the purpose of the review, nor do we know any details of her literature search. The review does not contain any analysis other than one statement that the authors who are reviewed have not contributed to developing a code of ethics beyond the Code for Communicators. In addition, she does not define any organizing categories for the review. Categories defined by subheads in the article tend to overlap. The three subheads are 13

PAGE 24

"technical writing and ethics" (p. ET-1 05), "ethics: issues, kinds, and principles" (p. ET-105), and "ethical situations in technical writing" (p. ET-106). These subheads do little to identify unifying concepts in the articles reviewed under them. Without clarifying the purpose and scope of the inquiry, or providing analyses, conclusions, or recommendations, Boyet does not encourage further scholarship in this area. The Boyet review offers no clarifying definitions, makes no recommendations for further work, and does not attempt to critique what has been written. She does not even help us understand the usefulness of her effort to begin with. Her review becomes, effectively, an annotated bibliography. Thus, the comparison of the examples from business and speech communication with the technical communication example shows that technical communication lacks useful scholarship in the form of ethics literature reviews. Developing a Framework for Ethics in Technical Communication Is it possible to use either Reinsch's (1990) or Arnett's (1987) framework to identify research issues and to structure and evaluate scholarship for ethics in technical communication? Reinsch's framework contains useful elements for technical communication, such as the distinction between pedagogical and non-pedagogical categories or the subcategory of ethical use of language. However, Reinsch developed his framework using articles from only one journal in order to describe and analyze the existing literature. While he does highlight problem areas in his conclusions, he does not include any other scholarship from his field. Therefore, we do not know whether those 14

PAGE 25

problems he identified are addressed elsewhere. Nor does Reinsch propose a comprehensive framework for ethics research in business communication. Arnett, on the other hand, developed his framework by synthesizing existing scholarship in his field. Other scholars in speech communication have worked at categorizing speech communication ethics, and Arnett used their work and built on it. So Arnett's framework has precedence in his field. However, the categories of Arnett's framework bear little relationship to the issues encountered in, or the scholarly debate on, ethics for technical communication. For instance, Arnett's narrative ethics and democratic communication ethics have to do with storytelling in communities and the public debate of ideas, respectively. These topics are not primary in technical communication scholarship. So what organizing concepts would be useful for structuring a comprehensive framework for identifying research issues in ethics for technical communication? One could imagine an argument for structuring such a framework around technical communication products such as proposals, reports, manuals, articles, position papers, resumes, and whatever other products could occur under the technical communication umbrella. However, defining a complete list of products alone would be a difficult task. Plus, ethics questions seem to relate as much or more to processes and social relationships as to prod ucts. In the hapless employee example described earlier in this chapter, the dilemmas of loyalty conflicts (between employer and audience), punishments (job loss and damaged professional reputation), and professional obligations do not depend solely upon the nature of the 15

PAGE 26

misleading information product about which the employee is directed to write. I believe more useful organizing principles for a comprehensive framework are the principles of role and interpersonal relationships. It is in roles and relationships that technical communicators experience ethical dilemmas. In the hapless employee example, the employee struggles with her relationships to her audience, to her employer, to her profession. She owes accuracy to her audience, loyalty and obedience to her employer, and adherence to professional values to her peers. This principle of relationship organizes the outline of professional ethics developed by Michael Bayles (1989) in his book, Professional Ethics. Bayles' outline provides a strong foundation for a comprehensive framework in ethics for technical communication with which technical communicators can structure scholarly discussion and identify research issues. I used Bayles' outline to develop the Ethics Framework. Then I tested whether the Ethics Framework is comprehensive, and whether it could help us identify meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. If the Framework is indeed comprehensive and can provide the basis for ethics discourse in technical communication, technical communication as a profession can truly begin to develop ethics theory and practice. We as a profession can engage in ethics discourse to develop scholarship such as the examples from speech communication and business communication described earlier. We can engage in ethics discourse to conduct meaningful research and build a 16

PAGE 27

body of knowledge that can contribute to developing our professional ethical stance. Outline of the Remainder of the Thesis Chapter 2 describes the Framework and testing the Framework. To test the Framework, I conducted extensive literature searches in order to collect articles to categorize using the Framework. Categorizing the articles and validating the categorization procedure provides an indication of how comprehensive the Framework actually is. To answer the question, Can the Framework help us identify important research issues in ethics for technical communication? I conducted further categorization and analysis. I categorized all the published ethics case studies from STC's member newsletter, Intercom, using the Ethics Framework, as well as categorizing the Codes of Ethics from four professional writing associations. Chapter 3 compares the categorizations from the literature searches, the ethics case studies, and the codes of ethics. This comparison reveals meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. Chapter 4 completes the study with conclusions and recommendations for further research. 17

PAGE 28

CHAPTER 2 METHODOLOGY In this chapter, I first describe the Ethics Framework developed from Bayles' work in Professional Ethics. Next, I describe the methodology used to test the comprehensiveness of the Ethics Framework and to determine if the Ethics Framework can help identify research issues to further the discourse in ethics for technical communication. Bayles' Professional Ethics as a Comprehensive Framework for Advancing Discourse in Ethics for Technical Communication In Professional Ethics, Michael Bayles (1989) has developed an outline of issues in professional ethics. He works from the premise that because professionals offer important services to society, they have an obligation to behave ethically in relation to those they serve. Bayles believes that the "contemporary concern with professional ethics reflects consumerism and the need for society to reconsider the role and conduct of professionals" (p. 14). His study "adopts the point of view of the average citizen interested in preserving the social values of freedom, protection from injury, equality of opportunity, privacy, and minimal well-being" (p. 14). Bayles' work also describes the changing world of the professional. Traditionally, society has viewed professionals as self employed and autonomous. However, now professionals are frequently members of multi-disciplinary teams and are often employees rather than self-employed. 18

PAGE 29

Using Bayles' outline to categorize and evaluate research and scholarship allows us to examine whether it can help us identify important research issues in ethics for technical communication. As I describe the categories of Bayles' outline, I will analyze the hapless employee scenario (in which an employee has been instructed to write misleading material by her employer) from Chapter 1, explaining into which categories it appropriately falls. This explanation will demonstrate the potential usefulness of using Bayles' outline to develop an Ethics Framework for structuring fruitful research and discourse. I will also point out possible problems or limitations with Bayles' outline. Bayles' outline covers six aspects of a professional's relationships: those with clients, other professionals, third parties, employers, and the profession itself. The categories of his outline include the following: ... Category 1 Professional obligations and availability of services; ..,. Category 2 Obligations between professionals and clients; ..,. Category 3 Professional obligations to third parties; ... Category 4 Obligations between professionals and employers; ..,. Category 5 Professionals' obligations to their profession; and ..,. Category 6 Ensuring compliance. Each category has subtopics. Appendix A contains a graphic depiction of the outline, showing the detail of each category and the subtopics within that category. Category 1 Professional obligations and availability of services, addresses the accessibility of professional services to the public. Subtopics included here are fees, publicity, specialization, insurance, and what professionals should do about accepting immoral clients (the question being whether immoral clients deserve access to professional 19

PAGE 30

services). Some typical questions that might arise in this category include the following: 1. What are reasonable fees for technical communication services? 2. Should technical communicators charge by the hour, or charge flat rates for products? 3. What are appropriate methods for advertising technical communication services? 4. Should there be any restrictions on advertising technical communication services? Category 2 Obligations between professionals and clients, encompasses issues in the relationship between professionals and their clients. One subtopic in this category is the contractual relationship between professional and client. Bayles first describes five models of professional/client relationships including agency (when may the professional act on behalf of, and at the direction of, the client?); contract (when do the professional and client share responsibility and authority?); friendship (which Bayles rejects as a false or weak category since paying for services does not duplicate the qualities of friendship); paternalism (when may the professional make decisions and manipulate information affecting the client without consulting the client?); and fiduciary (when does the client retain authority to make decisions, but rely on the professional's expertise for advice in which decision to make?). Bayles then continues with professionals' obligations to be worthy of their clients' trust. The seven standards he lists under this obligation of trustworthiness include honesty, candor, competence, 20

PAGE 31

diligence, loyalty, fairness, and discretion. The last set of obligations Bayles describes fall upon clients. They are obliged to keep commitments, to refrain from asking a professional to act unethically, and to be truthful with the professional. I added the subtopic of group or team work to Category 2. Technical communicators often work with other writers and artists, and with other professionals such as subject matter experts, systems analysts, computer programmers, and engineers. Such working relationships with other professionals often exist because of the group's relationship with the client. For example, a company producing software might hire a freelance technical writer to write a manual for a new piece of software. The company might also hire an illustrator. The illustrator and the writer must then work with the company's software engineer. In addition, the director of marketing must approve their work. The illustrator and the technical writer are in a contractual relationship with the company. They have to work with the group of people involved in producing the software. Any professional issues that the illustrator and writer must work out in their relationship exist because of their relationship with the client. Therefore, ethical issues regarding group or team work can affect technical communicators' obligations to clients. Typical questions arising in Category 2 might include the following: 1. What issues occur for technical communicators on collaborative writing projects? How does effective group decision-making take place? 2. Is the technical communicator competent to perform? Has she received adequate training? Is she diligent in 21

PAGE 32

performing to the highest standards possible in accomplishing her work? 3. What is the appropriate relationship between a technical communicator and his client? How much authority does a technical communicator need from the client in order to perform competently? 4. What obligations does a client have to the technical communicator? What should a technical communicator do if the client requests unethical or inferior services? Two subtopics from Category 2 are duplicated in Category 4, described below. The Category 2 subtopic of professional obligations for trustworthiness --honesty, candor, competence, diligence, loyalty, fairness, and -discretion --is duplicated in Category 4 as is the subtopic of group or team work. Category 4 describes the obligations between professionals and employers for cases where the professional is an employee of an organization. These duplications occur because the subtopics address issues that affect professionals whether they are independent practitioners (the more traditional scenario), or employees of organizations (more common today). These duplications of subtopics in Categories 2 and 4 can create confusion in describing and using the Ethics Framework. It is likely that further restructuring the Framework would .eliminate the confusion. However, for this study I have supplemented Bayles' outline, rather than modified it, to create the Ethics Framework. Further work restructuring the Ethics Framework, based on the findings of this study, would undoubtedly lead to a more refined, more useful framework. 22

PAGE 33

Category 3 Professional obligations to third parties. These third parties include the general public and, particularly in technical communication's case, the audience for the communicator's work. The subtopics that Bayles discusses in this category include the professional's obligation to act with fairness, truthfulness, and lack of malice towards third parties; the legal and ethical issues that professionals may face in serving their clients versus third parties; and confidentiality between clients and professionals as it affects third parties. Questions arising in this category may include the following: 1. In the case of a conflict between the client and the audience, to whom does the technical communicator owe allegiance? 2. Is confidentiality ever an issue for technical communicators with their clients or employers? How does one decide when to break confidentiality? This is the first category where we find some guidance for the hapless employee first described in Chapter 1. The employee's boss has asked her to write misleading material. What if this misleading material omits information that would help ensure the audience's safety or well-being? The possibility of allowing or causing harm to third parties may help the employee determine the answer to her dilemma .Category 4 Obligations between professionals and employers, contains subtopics relevant to the relationship between professionals and their employers. As mentioned earlier, professionals are often employees of organizations. The relationship between professionals and employers is different from the relationship between professionals and their clients. Particularly in technical communication, the employer is 23

PAGE 34

not necessarily either the client (treated in Category 2) nor the audience (treated in either Category 2 if the client is the audience, or Category 3 if the audience is a third party). For example, a technical communicator works for a research and consulting firm. Under contract to a state government agency, the firm develops custom software to be installed in the local agency offices in each county of the state. The technical communicator designs and writes the user guides and the software documentation for that piece of custom software. The employer in this case is the research and consulting firm, the client is the contracting state agency, and the audience is the government clerks who work in the county offices of the state agency. Under the subtopic of employee obligations to the employer, Bayles restates here the obligations of professional trustworthiness honesty, candor, diligence, competence, discretion, and loyalty which he described in Category 2. He adds the employee obligation of obedience to that list. Under the subtopic of authority and conflict, Bayles discusses bureaucracy versus professionalism; authority relationships; organizational disobedience; unions; and the subjects of conflicts as technical, moral, and conscientious refusal. Employers have obligations to professional employees as well, much as clients do to the professionals they hire. As described, Category 2 and Category 4 contain considerable overlaps. The subtopic of professional standards of behavior occurs in both places. Additionally, I included the issue of group or team work here since many technical communication employees work in groups on projects. The problems with the overlapping subtopics in Categories 2 24

PAGE 35

and 4 are discussed further in the conclusions in Chapter 4. Questions that highlight issues in this area include the following: 1. Exactly what loyalties do technical communicators owe to their employers? How does one balance obligations to third parties with obedience to employers? 2. What problems might a technical communicator experience whose supervisor is not a technical communication professional? As for the hapless employee, clearly part of her dilemma springs from a conflict with authority. Employers expect loyalty and obedience from their employees. Yet in this case, loyalty and obedience create conflict with the professional principle of attending to the audience which is captured in Category 3 Obligations to third parties. Category 5 Professionals' obligations to their profession, deals with professionals' obligations to their peers. Bayles includes as issues here research, including the professional's obligation to contribute research results that advance the public good, and respect for the profession. Respect for the profession means doing those things that will enhance the reputation of the profession. Specifically that includes exhibiting respect for fellow professionals; contributing to fulfilling the social role of the profession (for instance, when attorneys volunteer their services to those organizations or individuals who cannot afford regular services); and applying professional standards when considering applicants for admission to the profession. Respect for the profession also includes being sensitive to special interests or conflict situations in which a professional might get involved, and considering how such involvement could reflect on the profession as a whole. 25

PAGE 36

I added the subtopic of the role and definition of technical communication to this category. Technical communication journals regularly publish articles discussing how to define technical communication, and its role as a profession and as a discipline. The struggle to define the field of technical communication and place it in a larger context of the work world of modern society clearly impacts the profession. It is appropriately the responsibility of technical communication practitioners to define their profession and its place in society. I also added publishing as a professional obligation to this category. Much of the activity in publishing involves both professional relationships (such as editorships and peer reviews of journal submissions) and the intent on the part of journals and authors to enhance the profession. Questions highlighting this category include the following: 1. What obligations do technical communicators have to participate in furthering the profession of technical communication? How important are memberships in professional societies and publishing in professional journals? 2. Is the research being conducted useful for the profession? Is it advancing knowledge and developing theory? 3. Is the academic side of the profession supporting the experience of the professionals practicing in the field? The hapless employee, struggling with the problem of being asked to write misleading material, faces the possibility of damaging the 26

PAGE 37

reputation of the profession in the public's eye. As a professional technical communicator, the employee struggles with the answer to an ethical dilemma that not only affects her at an individual level at her job, but will also reflect on her profession as a whole. Category 6 contains issues of compliance. Compliance has to do with controlling and regulating the profession. If we decided to move the subtopic of obligations of trustworthiness from Categories 2 and 4, a case could be made for moving them here. Much of what other professions control and regulate is the ability and qualifications of professionals to practice their profession. However, technical communication has struggled with this issue for some time and has had difficulty defining appropriate measures of competence and knowledge for the field. Hence, Category 6 may not be the best place for the trustworthiness subtopic at this time. Highlighting this category are questions such as: 1. Should there be licensing of the profession of technical communication? What would licensing consist of? 2. Is the profession non-discriminatory in allowing disadvantaged groups to enter? 3. Does the profession need to police its members in order to protect society from incompetent or corrupt technical communicators? How would it accomplish this? I added a Category 7 Ethics, to include those issues that relate specifically to ethics as a topic. Such issues include theoretical and broad-based discussions that would be too limited or do not fit easily into the other categories. Questions that arise in this category include: 1. Is ethics a relevant topic for technical communication? 27

PAGE 38

2. What are issues in ethics for technical communication? 3. How can we develop ethical theory for technical communication? : 4. What should a code of ethics for technical communica tors include? These categories constitute the comprehensive Ethics Framework that I propose would allow us to structure and evaluate research and discussion of ethics for technical communication. This Ethics Framework will also help us identify research issues in ethics for technical communication. The Ethics Framework is comprehensive because it is built on the principle of relationships relationships with others (clients, third parties, peers), relationship with oneself (as self employed, employee, member of a profession), and relationship with society as a whole (as an ethical, law-abiding professional contributing to the well-being of society). Testing the Framework and Identifying Meaningful Research Issues in Technical Communication The reliability of the Ethics Framework must be verified in order to use it with confidence. Once we are convinced that the Framework is reliable, we can then use it to determine what might be meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. To test the reliability of the Ethics Framework, I first conducted extensive literature searches in professional journals to collect articles about ethics in technical communication. I then categorized those articles using the Framework and assessed the validity of my categorization procedure using independent judges. The process of 28

PAGE 39

conducting the literature searches, categorizing the collected articles, and assessing the categorization proced\lre is. described in this chapter. The second goal of this study, stated in Chapter 1, was to determine whether a comprehensive framework could help us identify meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. In order to test whether the Ethics Framework could identify such research issues, I also categorized two other significant sources of material on ethics for technical communication ethics case studies and current codes of ethics from four professional writing associations. Comparing the results of categorizing these three sets of material reveals meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. The ethics case studies come from the Society for Technical Communication (STC) member newsletter, Intercom, published 10 times a year. STC's membership develops and submits these case studies. A list of questions for consideration accompanies each case study, and responses to the questions are published in the following edition of Intercom. Since these case studies are designed to foster discourse on ethics among peers and to raise ethics awareness, they are designed to be topical and provocative. Consequently, they might reflect the current experience and concerns of professional technical communicators. The four codes of ethics which were categorized using the Ethics Framework are from professional writing associations serving either technical communicators or professions closely aligned with technical communication, such as medical writing. These three sets of material on ethics in technical communication have been created for different purposes. Authors 29

PAGE 40

publish articles in professional journals to present new ideas, share results of research, debate issues of interest to professionals, and enhance their professional careers. Case studies presented for comment are designed both to create awareness of ethics considerations in professional behavior, and to foster discourse on ethics issues among peers. In particular the case studies should reflect the experience of professionals with ethical issues since professionals develop the studies and address them to their peers for discussion and comment. In contrast to either case studies or articles, codes of ethics are guidelines to ethical behavior for professionals. They set standards and embody the values and principles by which a profession defines itself. By using these three sets of material, we are more likely to capture the full range of ethical concerns expressed by technical communicators. Consequently, categorizing case studies and codes allows us to expand our analysis of possible research issues the Ethics Framework might define. Conducting Comprehensive Literature Searches The goal of the literature searches was to collect a broad set of articles about ethics and professional issues in technical communication to classify into the Ethics Framework. The results of the classification would allow us to explore the usefulness of the Ethics Framework and help us learn whether we could define research issues using the Framework. Two sets of literature searches were conducted. Each set included a manual search plus a computerized database search. As a result, complete copies of 290 articles were obtained. 30

PAGE 41

Conducting literature searches presents a series of problems to bibliographers: 1. How to collect enough material. 2. How to avoid collecting too much material. 3. How to be rigorously thorough in finding appropriate sources. 4. How to ensure the usefulness and relevance of the collected material. 5. Where to find all the material identified. Because the focus of this study was the current state of ethics for technical communication, both sets of literature searches covered literature from the years 1975 to 1990. Ethics Literature Search I first conducted a manual search of article titles for articles about ethics for technical communication, published during 1975 to 1990 in four professional journals dedicated to technical communication; Technical Communication, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, and the Journal of Business and Technical Communication. Next, in order to collect more articles, I conducted a computerized search of eight databases. To ensure that I discovered as many pertinent articles as possible, I searched for articles dealing with ethics and either writing, communication, or rhetoric in five areas technical, professional, business, scientific, and engineering. The search string used in the computerized search was as follows: 31

PAGE 42

technical, professional, business, scientific, engineering with writing, communication, rhetoric with ethic?1 Using the Dialog subscription service to on-line cataloging, the search was conducted in eight databases. Because of the structure of the ERIC database in Dialog, it was searched only from 1983 to 1990. Also, ERIC could not search using the multiple key words used in the other databases. Therefore, the ERIC search used only the key words technical communication. The other seven databases, listed below, all covered periods longer than the targeted 15 years of the search. 1. PsyciNFO catalogues journals in psychology. 2. MANAGEMENT CONTENTS and _ABI/INFORM cover management and business topics. 3. Philosopher's Index covers philosophy. 4. Dissertation Abstracts Online catalogues abstracts of Ph.D. dissertations. 5. Language Abstracts indexes articles in the fields of linguistics and language behaviors. 6. INSPEC catalogues scientific literature. 7. ERIC covers topics in education research. Dialog provided a printout of article citations and abstracts which helped to identify articles to collect. As a result of reading the abstracts, I decided to eliminate certain categories of topics in order to refine and control the articles The question mark is the search convention which tells the computer to search for any occurrence ing with the word ethic. Therefore the search would pick up ethical, or any other form of the word ight occur. The with command is inclusive; that is, it will include any combination of words from the first ets which are then combined with ethic. 32

PAGE 43

collected. The categories which were eliminated included articles about teaching ethics, since they usually concentrated more on pedagogy than on research issues in ethics. "How to" articles that tended to focus on the practices of technical communication such as writing were also excluded. The last category of articles I excluded were those discussing international or bilingual topics, a relatively new area of interest to technical communicators. I then collected the selected articles through manual library searches, making a complete copy of each article. Those articles not available through manual library searches were collected through the interlibrary loan service. Professional Issues Literature Search A second set of literature searches, manual and computerized, was conducted for two reasons. First, I wanted to have as many articles as possible to categorize into the Ethics Framework. Second, the parameters for the first search were limited to articles which addressed ethics as a topic. I wanted to include articles about professional issues identified in the Ethics Framework, which may not have been classified as specifically about ethics. In order to ensure the usefulness and relevance of the collected material, I searched for aiticles about the professional issues contained in the Ethics Framework. For these searches, I developed a list of key words directly from subtopics in the Ethics Framework categories. Below is a representative list of words. Half of the words occur in the Framework, the other half are (a) synonyms to the words in the Framework (consulting as synonymous with "professional-client relationship" in Category 2), (b) words related specifically to ethical 33

PAGE 44

issues in writing professions (such as plagiarism), (c) words related to the Framework subtopics (such as citation relates to publishing in Category 5), or (d) they are words associated with ethics in general (such as standards). Accountability Accuracy Certification Citation Client Competence Confidentiality Conflict of Interest Consulting Contract Copyright Credibility Diligence Employee Failure/Problem Fees Honesty Integrity Judgement Liability License Plagiarism Professional Qualifications Research Respect Responsibility Services Standards Truth Using these terms, I conducted a second manual search of article titles in the four technical communication journals listed above for the 15-year period from 1975 to 1990. I then copied the articles identified in this search. I also conducted a second computerized database search. This second search included one half of the words contained in the list above. Even using the shortened list of words, the search string was unusually long for a computerized database search. The search string was executed as follows: technical, professional, business, scientific, engineering with communication, writing, publication, presentation, language with fees, consult?, confidentiality, plagiarism, integrity, liability, employee, licens?, honest?, copyright, competence, accuracy, research, accountability, truth 34

PAGE 45

I conducted this second search in five databases. Philosopher's Index, Language Abstracts, and INSPEC were searched using the Dialog service. As before, those databases cover material dating from before 1975, so articles occurring between 1975 to 1990 were captured. In this search, ABI/INFORM was searched from April 1986 through March 1991 using a Compact Disk/Read Only Memory (CD/ROM) disk on a personal computer (PC). PsycLit, a psychology database comparable to PsyciNFO, was searched from January 1983 through March 1991, also using a CD/ROM disk service on a PC. Again, computer printouts of article citations and abstracts were obtained. I read each abstract and decided whether to obtain the complete article based on the criteria described above. Finally, I used one other source of articles. The bibliographies of all the articles ultimately categorized into the Ethics section of the Ethics Framework were searched, and pertinent articles from those bibliographies were acquired. Those articles identified through the database searches and the bibliography search were then collected through manual library searches and the interlibrary loan service. Categorizing the Articles The next step in the process was to assign all 290 articles to the categories of the Ethics Framework. I planned to do this by reading each article. However, due to the volume of material and the need to conduct an independent test of the reliability of my categorization, I needed to design a simple and replicable procedure. Such a procedure also needed to ensure that the true focus of each article was identified. To categorize the articles I designed the following procedure: 35

PAGE 46

1. First I read the abstract and the summary. If these did not exist, I read the first paragraph and last paragraph of the article. If the first paragraph did not introduce the topic, and if the last paragraph did not summarize the topic, I then read the first section and last section, using the subtitles as section dividers. 2. Next I read the section headings throughout the article. If I felt confident that I had identified the topic(s) of the article, I stopped with step 2. If I was still unsure about the topic of the article, I continued with step 3. 3. I read the topic sentences of each paragraph throughout the article. When I had decided upon the category or categories to which the article belonged, I assigned the category number to the article. If an article belonged in more than one category, I coded it for each category. This categorization process eliminated 57 articles from the collection. These were articles which, upon closer scrutiny, fell into one of the previously eliminated categories (international or bilingual communication articles, "how-to" articles, articles about teaching ethics). A few were annotated bibliographies or were humorous or ironic commentary that did not lend themselves to serious categorization. This final process of elimination resulted in 233 articles included in the categorization. 36

PAGE 47

Assessing the ReliabilitY of the Categories The categorization methodology was validated using three independent judges. These judges are acquaintances of the author who had not participated in any previous aspects of the research being conducted. One judge works as a proposal coordinator for a scientific consulting firm, one judge is an attorney and works as a legal analyst with a public policy research firm, and the third judge was a banking professional. The validation process occurred as follows. First, a group of 20 articles was selected at random. To select these articles, all 233 categorized articles were numbered on the back from 1 through 233. An independent computer programmer prepared a random number generator using Turbo C. The program was compiled on a personal computer. This program then generated a list of 20 numbers. The corresponding articles were selected to constitute the group used by the judges. Each article was numbered on the front from 1 through 20. The judges then worked with the articles using the numbers 1 through 20. To conduct the reliability test, a set of materials was developed. (Appendix B contains a set of these materials.) First, a description of each of the seven categories in the Ethics Framework was typed onto a separate page. Another page contained instructions for following the procedure to use for categorizing each article (Steps 1-3 described in the previous section). Finally, a set of coding sheets was developed, and then labeled at the top for each category in the Ethics Framework. The coding sheet allowed the judge to mark her or his category decision for each article next to that article's number. Then, in three separate 37

PAGE 48

sessions, the three judges were given the stack of 20 articles and the categorization procedure described above. After instruction about how to follow the categorization procedure, they were given the description for Category 1. The judges then followed the procedure for each article, deciding whether that article fit into Category 1. When they had decided, they marked yes or no next to the number of the article on the Category 1 Coding Sheet. When they had finished with Category 1, they were given the description for Category 2, and followed the same procedure on all 20 articles for Category 2. This procedure was repeated for all seven categories from the Ethics Framework. Appendix B also contains the judges' completed worksheets. The results of these judges' categorizations were tested statistically. An agreement among all three judges was considered to have occurred if all three judges assigned an article to the same category or if they all agreed that an article did not belong to a category. The probability of such an agreement is binomially distributed. One possible outcome is that all three judges agree on the classification of an article. The other possible outcome is that the judges do not fully agree. The probability of all three judges agreeing assumes independence of classification and is conditional on the propensity of each judge to categorize articles. The propensity indicates the likelihood that a judge will classify an article within the Ethics Framework. For example, Judge A categorized articles 33 times out of a possible 140 times, so her propensity to classify is 0.2357. If classification was totally random, the probability that all judges agree on classification would only be a function of the judges' 38

PAGE 49

propensity to classify an article, as opposed to any effect of the Ethics Framework. Table 1 presents the theoretical probabilities of the judges agreeing that an article should be placed in no categories to all seven categories. To calculate the probability of no matches, 1 minus the propensity is used. Table 1 Theoretical Probability and Expected Value of the Event Occurring Based on Binomial Distribution (a) (b) (c) r = number of 3probability of r In 20 articlesb, way matchesa matches expected number of 3-way matches 0 .1540 3.0807 1 .3303 6.6061 2 .3036 6.0710 3 .1550 3.0996 4 .0475 .9495 5 .0087 .1745 6 .0009 .0178 7 .00004 .0008 8Number of times all three judges could agree on whether an article fit into a category. bColumn (c) = column (b) x 20. A chi-square test was conducted to determine whether a significant difference exists between the expected outcome and the observed outcome. The null hypothesis is that the judges' agreements are purely random. Acceptance of the null hypothesis would suggest that the Ethics Framework is not a useful system of classification. The 39

PAGE 50

alternative hypothesis is that the judges' agreements are not random. Table 2 shows the results of the chi-square test. Table 2 Observed Outcome r =number of Expected Observed 3-way matches Outcome Outcome 0 3.087 2 1 6.6061 4 2 6.0710 4 3 to 7 4.2422 10 Note. The fourth row of Table 2, the number of matches from 3 to 7, is combined so that the value of the expected outcome for each cell is greater than 3. A chi-square test performed on the last two columns gives x2 = (3, N = 20) = 10.02, p < .02. Therefore, we can reject the null hypothesis and affirm that the actual outcome was not random. Categorizing Ethics Cases from Intercom The nine ethics case studies from Intercom, STC's member newsletter, were also categorized into the Ethics Framework. STC members developed the cases and submitted them for publication, where they appeared in issues from November 1988 (when the series began) through February 1992. These nine cases each present an ethical dilemma involving a technical communicator and include questions for members to answer. Members submit proposed resolutions to the dilemmas, along with supplemental commentary, which then appear in a subsequent issue. These case studies provide a 40

PAGE 51

unique source of material on technical communication ethics developed by practicing technical communication professionals. Each case was read and assigned to the appropriate category or categories in the Ethics Framework that was outlined earlier in this chapter. Categorizing the Codes of Ethics Codes of ethics provide a source of information about professions' ethical values, embodying the principles of ethical behavior that professions set for themselves. Codes of ethics from four professional writing associations were categorized into the Ethics Framework. These professional writing associations either encompass technical communication or are closely related. Categorizing these codes into the Ethics Framework allows us to identify research issues arising from those stated principles. The codes from four professional writing associations were used for two reasons. First, it is likely that research issues in ethics identified from similar professions would apply equally to technical communication. Second, using four codes ensured that there would be enough material to reach meaningful conclusions. The four associations and their codes are the following: 1. The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and their Code of Ethics. 2. The Association of Professional Writing Consultants (APWC) and their Standards for Ethical Conduct. 3. The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and their Code of Ethics. 4. The Society for Technical Communication (STC) and their Code for Communicators. 41

PAGE 52

Appendix C contains the codes in their entirety. Each section or sentence of each code was categorized into the Ethics Framework that was outlined earlier in this chapter. Appendix D contains the breakdown of code statements into the Ethics Framework category sections. 42

PAGE 53

CHAPTER 3 RESULTS OF THE STUDY AND DISCUSSION In the first section of this chapter, I present and discuss the results of categorizing the codes of ethics of four professional writing associations, the nine ethics case studies from Intercom, and the 233 articles collected through the literature searches. In the second section of this chapter, I compare the categorizations of these three sets of materials. The goal of the categorization effort was to discover whether using the Ethics Framework would identify meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. Comparing the distribution of articles across the seven categories in the Ethics Framework with the distribution of the codes of ethics and the ethics case studies identified such issues. As noted, articles are published to present new ideas, to report on research, to debate issues of interest to professionals, to advance professional careers, and to encourage further discourse in the profession. Professions promulgate codes of ethics to set standards of professional conduct and to articulate those standards to the profession and the public. The ethics case studies are published to increase the ethics awareness of technical communicators and to create a forum for discussing ethics issues. We are interested in clarifying three issues: 1. Do the codes address concerns of practitioners who develop case studies? Committees of professional associations often take responsibility for developing codes of ethics. 43

PAGE 54

Such committees may borrow codes developed by other associations and rework them to fit their own needs. For instance, as Walzer (1989) reports, in 1958 the Society of Technical Writers and Editors (STWE), a precursor to the Society for Technical Communication (STC), "adopted the 'Canons of Ethics;' canons which often seem to address the ethical concerns engineers confront, not those of the technical writer and editor. Indeed, the 'Canons' are acknowledged to be based on the Engineers' Council's code" (p. 101). Ideally, a code of ethics should address real issues that professionals face in the daily practice of their profession. As Schaefer points out, The code [STC's Code for Communicators] deals largely with steps, somewhat limited, toward achieving professional competence. It offers little in the way of guidance or standards of conduct for technical communicators faced with ethical problems in the exercise of their profession. This lack has caused concern among members of the Society who feel that there is a definite need to have a code that will provide such guidance. (1980, p. 4) 2. Do researchers who publish articles have the same interests as practitioners? The relationship of these interests as reflected in the article categorizations contrasted with the case study categorizations should indicate whether academia (where much research takes place) is interested in and working with issues that affect technical 44

PAGE 55

communicators on the job {the group mostly responsible for developing the case studies). Clark (1987) describes the possible conflict between the professional perspective and the academic perspective. People who work from the first perspective as professional technical communicators discuss ethics in the -immediate and practical context of the experience and the interests of their particular organizations and their profession, while people who work from the second perspective, as academicians, tend to discuss ethics in a more abstract and theoretical context that addresses broader interests. (p. 190) Neither group's focus is necessarily a problem. However, we might have a problem developing relevant, useful information about ethics for technical communication if we find little overlap between the groups' interests. 3. Does the focus of the codes reflect the interests and concerns of the current research and the case studies in the field? For the codes to serve as guidance for practicing professionals, they must reflect the experiences and concerns professionals face. As mentioned above, the Code for Communicators does not offer much concrete guidance for a technical communicator facing a real-life ethical dilemma. However, the combination of the four codes might prove more relevant. 45

PAGE 56

Results and Discussion of Categorizations into the Ethics Framework Results and Discussion of Categorizing Codes of Ethics The codes of ethics of four professional writing associations were broken into a total of 85 separate statements. The breakdown of code statements is contained in Appendix D. As with the articles, each statement could be assigned to more than one category. The total number of statement assignments was 115. Table 3 shows the percentage of statements by category in rank order. Table 3 Categorizations of Codes of Ethics Category Professionals & Clients Professionals & Employers Third Parties Obligations to the Profession Ensuring Compliance Availability of Services %of code statements 32 30 18 11 5 4 The Ethics Category was excluded from this exercise. Any statements from the codes themselves that referred to ethics are either descriptive, that is, they describe the general importance of ethics for the profession, or else they call for agreement to follow the guidelines in the code. In either case, those statements do not suggest research issues in ethics for technical communication professionals, so they were not categorized. 46

PAGE 57

As Table 3 shows, Category 2 Professionals and Clients (professional-client relationship, professionals' trustworthiness to practice, obligations of clients, and group/team work) and Category 4 Professionals and Employers (employees' obligations to employers; employees' obligations to employers versus obligations to others; authority and conflict; employer obligations; and group/team work) received the greatest percentage of code statements. The emphasis on these two categories is not surprising since statements of competence and integrity as well as statements of professional relationships fall here. The codes focus heavily on the professionalism, integrity, and diligence called for from professional writers when dealing with clients and employers. In the codes many statements assigned to Category 2 Professionals and Clients were also assigned to Category 4 Professionals and Employers. This overlap stems from the fact that both categories contain the subtopic of professional trustworthiness. A typical statement assigned to both categories, addressing professionals' obligation to be trustworthy, occurs in the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)'s Code of Ethics. IABC's Code statement 1 says, Communication professionals will uphold the credibility and dignity of their profession by encouraging the practice of honest, candid, and timely communication. The highest standards of professionalism will be upheld in all communication. Communicators should encourage frequent communication and messages that are honest in their content, candid, accurate, and appropriate to the needs of the organization and its audiences. 47

PAGE 58

Indeed, the only set of statements which do not fall into both categories are from the Association of Professional Writing Consultants (APWC)'s Standards of Ethical Conduct for Writing Consultants. These statements (numbers 3a-3d, 5a-5c, and 6a-6b) apply specifically to consultants, since the Association consists of consultants. However, much of the content could as easily apply to professional employees. For example, 5a states, "In writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to--a. Provide clear, concise readable copy which meets the needs of both the client and the intended readers." A professional technical communication employee should probably strive for the same goal. The overlap of material in Categories 2 Professionals and Clients and 4 Professionals and Employers will repeat in the categorization of articles. This overlap illustrates a weakness of Bayles' categories for the Ethics Framework. While Bayles' focus on relationships gives the Ethics Framework its strength, that focus also creates a conceptual overlap which could cause confusion. The issue of professionals' trustworthiness to perform occurs in both categories where professionals perform their profession namely as employees or as independent contractors to clients. Similarly, the issue of a professional's ability to perform should be the same for either a self employed professional or an employee professional. Table 3 shows us the next two categories in importance. In third place, Category 3 Obligations to Third Parties (professionals' obliga tions to third parties; obligations of professionals to their clients versus their obligations to others; confidentiality; and copyright and trademark) emphasizes professionals' obligations to third parties. The 48

PAGE 59

emphasis here for communicators is understandable since third parties constitute most of the audience for the communication. The codes statements assigned to this category address confidentiality, the account ability of the professional to act lawfully, and the audience for whom the professionals write. In a typical example, the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Code's Principle 6 addresses confidentiality. "A medical writer should respect the personal and confidential nature of professional records. He should not divulge, without proper authorization, any confidential patient, patent, or other private information to which he has access." Category 5 -Obligations to the Profession (research and reform; publishing; and respect for the profession) ranks fourth. This category is undoubtedly important in the codes of ethics of professional associations. However, given the fact that the associations publish and promulgate the codes, it is interesting that they do not focus more attention in this area. Of the statements falling within this category, most of them have to do with treating the associations and the profes sions honorably. For example, STC's Code for Communicators states that technical communicators should "Respect the work of colleagues, knowing that a communication problem may have more than one solution." Category 6 Ensuring Compliance (controls; discipline; self regulation; and motivations for compliance) occupies fifth place. The professions whose codes were categorized do not have licensing requirements or regulatory structures in place. Since this category deals with controlling and regulating the profession, the codes only address this category in a limited fashion. The statements that did fall into 49

PAGE 60

Category 6 deal with self-regulation. For instance, the APWC Standards statement 6 states "In conducting writing instruction and in writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to --b. Advise the client when the written materials and practices of the client are not consistent with the ethical standards of the professional community." Category 1 Availability of Services (fees, advertising, and specialization) includes statements addressing publicity and fees. These subtopics largely affect self-employed professionals. Most technical communicators work as employees. For instance, a recent salary survey conducted by STC received a total of 600 responses. Of those responses, only 18%, or 108, categorized themselves as consultants. And in a 1988 survey of STC membership receiving 610 responses, in the type-of-job category, 13%, or 79, identified themselves as consult ing/freelance practitioners. In the employment-by-sector category, 9%, or 54, categorized themselves as self-employed. So the majority of respondents in both surveys work as employees. While the APWC is a consultant's organization, the AMWA and IABC codes occur in associations with probably more employee members than self-employed members. Therefore, issues of publicity and fees may not matter as much as they would to a profession with more self-employed practitioners. While the issues may not matter as much, some of the codes do address them. For example, the AMWA Code addresses publicity in Principle 7. "A medical writer may actively seek, through advertisements or other means, ethical professional assignments consistent with his talents and capacity to provide medical communication services." 50

PAGE 61

The categorization of the codes thus identifies some inadequacies in the codes' treatment of professional issues. None of the codes are in any way comprehensive. At least one subtopic, that of publishing which falls into Category 5 Obligations to the Profession (research and reform; publishing; and respect for the profession), had no statements assigned to it. However, ethical issues in publishing are the subject of numerous articles. Many subtopics have few statements assigned (for example, most of the subtopics in Category 6 -Ensuring Compliance [controls; discipline; self-regulation; and motivations for compliance]). However, it is notable that each category did contain at least one statement. Thus, the Ethics Framework does capture the range of possible relationships addressed by the codes we examined. Results and Discussion of Categorizing Ethics Cases in Intercom The member newsletter of the STC, Intercom, publishes ethics case studies for member discussion and comment. Intercom has published nine cases between 1988 and 1992. All nine cases reviewed for this study, or 100%, fell into Category 4 Professionals and Employers (employees' obligations to employers; employees' obligations to employers versus obligations to others; authority and conflict; employer obligations; and group/team work). All cases dealt with employee technical communicators placed in difficult situations by superiors or other employees, by outside vendors, by conflicting roles as professionals and employees, and by conflicting obligations to third parties and employers. For example, the ethics case published in the August/September 1991 issue of Intercom dealt with an editor's dilemma (O'Neill, 1991). 51

PAGE 62

The editor in question believed that an article for a corporate newsletter, written by the company president, needed extensive editing. However, two vice presidents in the company had already told the president in writing that they believed the article needed no changes. The editor had to decide how to approach the editing task in light of her relationship with the president and vice presidents of the company. In the February 1990 issue of Intercom, the ethics case describes a dilemma with potentially higher stakes (Handler, 1990). A technical writer is writing a marketing brochure for a device which used parts from a well-respected vendor. The first marketing brochure for the device identified the vendor as supplying parts for the device, which was a commercial success. Subsequently, another vendor had begun supplying those parts for the device as well. In revising the marketing brochure, the writer decided to leave out any. reference to vendors, since the first vendor was no longer the sole supplier of parts. This brought him into conflict with both the design engineer and the writer's direct supervisor, both of whom wanted reference to only the first vendor included. These cases, perhaps more than any other source, reveal for us what topics interest technical communication practitioners, since mostly practitioners submit the cases for publication. (Of the authors of the ethics cases, only one lists a university address in the 1991-1992 STC Membership Directory. Five list corporate addresses and the remaining addresses do not indicate either a corporation or a university.) There can be little doubt that practitioners struggle with conflicts between their roles as employees and as professionals. 52

PAGE 63

It is unusual, however, that all the cases would fall into one category. While some of the cases have implications for another category (usually Category 3 -Obligations to Third Parties [professionals' obligations to third parties; obligations of professionals to their clients versus their obligations to others; confidentiality; and copyright and trademark]), the primary dilemma in all of them involves a communicator as an employee. As a matter of fact, Category 4 Professionals and Employers (employees' obligations to employers; employees' obligations to employers versus obligations to others; authority and conflict; employer obligations; and group/team work) contains a subtopic that deals with the employee and his or her relationship with the employer versus the employee's relationship with others, including third parties, clients, and other employees. Perhaps the method of collecting these case studies has generated an unrepresentative sample. In the November 1988/ntercom, R. John Brockmann, Manager of the Ethics Committee, describes the committee's intent in publishing cases. He states that the committee had been developing cases over the preceding year, and asked for new committee members who wanted to write new cases. Then, beginning in the October 1990 issue, the ethics cases and responses contain a request to contact the committee if one wishes to submit an ethics case. Consequently, the STC members who have developed and submitted the cases are a self-selected group who may share common interests that would not necessarily reflect all the interests of the wider readership. Perhaps early cases shape later submissions. Since the first cases dealt with technical communicators as employees, they might have 53

PAGE 64

suggested the direction for the later cases. And, since most technical communicators consider themselves employees as described earlier, conceivably they have a much higher level of interest in cases that reflect their daily work. Case studies of dilemmas about publishing research or dilemmas about pricing services provided as a freelance technical communicator may not necessarily address the experience of a great many readers of Intercom. In any event, the overemphasis of the case studies on Category 4 Professionals and Employers seems unusual and is not likely to totally represent the universe of ethical dilemmas experienced by technical communicators. However, this overemphasis can tell us something about developing research issues for ethics in technical communication. Results and Discussion of Categorizing Articles As noted, of 290 articles collected through the manual and computerized literature searches, 233 articles were categorized into the Ethics Framework. Because any one article could be assigned to more than one category, the total number of article assignments to categories equaled 287. Table 4 shows the ranking of categories according to the percent of articles assigned to them. 54

PAGE 65

Table 4 Categorizations of Published Articles Category Obligations to the Profession Ethics Third Parties Professionals & Employers Professionals & Clients Availability of Services Ensuring Compliance %of articles 35 17 16 13 10 6 2 By far the greatest number of articles fell into Category 5 Obligations to the Profession (research and reform; publishing; and respect for the profession). Examples of typical articles are described in the second section of this chapter. Category 5 in the Ethics Framework includes subtopics relating to publishing, research, and respect for the profession, which includes further subtopics of professionalism, exhibiting respect for peers, collegiality, compensation, and definition and role of technical communication. The following list samples topics addressed by articles in this category: 1. What role should research play in our profession? What type of research do we need? Is valuable research being conducted? 2. What does it mean to be a professional in technical communication? 3. How much are we worth as professionals? 55

PAGE 66

4. What exactly is technical communication? How is it different from other professional writing fields? What purpose does technical communication serve in society? 5. What role does publishing play in professional development? How can we contribute to the literature in our field? This focus on the profession itself supports Walzer's contention that "there are mixed motives behind the interest in professional ethics and codes. Often professional codes are viewed predominantly as vehicles to enhance the status of a profession. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers have codes and status; office workers have neither" (1989, p. 101). However, this emphasis on professional ethics as a way of developing the profession need not be entirely self-serving. According to Bayles, the obligations professionals have to their profession "rest on the responsibilities of a profession as a whole to further social values" (1989, p. 179). If technical communicators care about how practicing their profession serves society, then they must address the subtopics in this category . The second largest group of articles falls in Category 7 Ethics (theory and philosophy; practice of ethics; ethics how-to; case studies; codes; and ethics and rhetoric). T6pics of articles in this category include (a) ethics practices, (b) ethics and rhetoric, (c) codes of ethics, (d) ethics how-to articles for different types of writing or different writing products such as scientific reports, and (e) defining ethics for technical communication. The fact that 35% of the articles treat professional issues .and 17% of the articles treat ethics could reflect 56

PAGE 67

more interest in promoting and enhancing the status of the profession than in a true concern for examining ethical questions and advancing the professional discourse in ethics in general. However, the difference could also reflect the inherent difficulty in researching and writing about such abstract issues. The structure and focus provided by the comprehensive Ethics Framework could address this difficulty in researching and writing about ethics. Using the Framework could enhance the quality and quantity of research, publication, and discourse dealing more strictly with ethics issues. However, interest and research in ethics is not lacking by any means. Some of the most interesting work is taking place in the area of ethics and rhetoric, as described in Chapter 1, where researchers are developing creative paradigms of ethics for technical communicators using rhetoric as an organizing principle. Category 3 Obligations to Third Parties (professionals' obligations to third parties; obligations of professionals to their clients versus their obligations to others; confidentiality; and copyright and trademark) contains almost the same number of article assignments as Category 7 Ethics. According to Bayles, "Conflicts between role related responsibilities to clients and universal obligations to third parties are at the heart of professional ethics" (1989, p. 129). Category 3's third place ranking reflects the fact that technical communication focuses a significant amount of attention on third parties in the form of audience. Subtopics in this category include copyrights, confidentiality, and truthfulness and fairness to third parties (who might be other communicators in addition to audiences). 57

PAGE 68

Category 4 Professionals and Employers (employees' obliga tions to employers; employees' obligations to employers versus obligations to others; authority and conflict; employer obligations; and group/team work) and Category 2-Professionals and Clients (professional-client relationship, professionals' trustworthiness to practice, obligations of clients, and group/team work) fall fourth and fifth, respectively. The low percentage of articles in these categories (13% and 10% respectively) is somewhat unexpected since the subtopics of competence and integrity, and of the relationship of the technical communicator to the client or employer, would seem important. However, of the topics addressed by articles in this category, authors exhibit the most interest in the subtopic of group or team work among technical communicators, subject matter experts, and software development teams. Subtopics to which authors pay the least attention include those of professional competence and integrity. Category 1 -Availability of Services (fees, advertising, and specialization) includes the subtopics of fees and publicity and falls into sixth place. As noted in the discussion of the codes categorizations, we would expect more interest in Category 1 in professions with more self employed practitioners. Other professions which have had rules against advertising and for whom fees charged can restrict the public's access to services (such as law and medicine) may also have more interest in these subtopics. Category 6 Ensuring Compliance (controls; discipline; self regulation; and motivations for compliance) falls into last place. Subtopics such as licensing, discipline, and self-regulation of professionals fall into this category. Again, as noted in the discussion of 58

PAGE 69

the codes categorization, the technical communication profession does not have licensing or regulatory structures in place that would create much interest in these subtopics. The articles in this category deal mostly with certification of technical communicators. Comparison of of the Codes. Case Studies. and Articles Table 5 highlights the categories containing the greatest discrepancies in the categorizations of codes of ethics, case studies, and articles. The discrepancies are interesting because they indicate that professional opinion may diverge about the important issues in ethics for technical communication, thereby identifying potential research issues. In the following discussion I compare the categories which contain the highest percent of code statements (Category 2), case studies (Category 4), and articles (Category 5). Table 5 Areas of Discrepancy Between Articles, Code Statements, and Case Studies Category 1 Avail. of Services 2 Prof. and clients 3 Third Parties 4 Prof. and employers 5 Obligations to Profession 6-Ensuring Compliance 7-Ethics %of Code Statements & (rank) 4 (6) 32 (1) 18 (3) 30 (2) 11 (4) 5 (5) n/a 59 %of %of Case Articles Studies & (rank) 0 6 (6) 0 10 (5) 0 16 (3) 100 13 (4) 0 35 (1) 0 2 (7) 0 17 (2)

PAGE 70

Discrepancies Between Codes and Case Studies As illustrated above, Category 2 contains the highest percentage of code statements, Category 4 contains 100% of the case studies, and Category 5 contains none of the case studies and 11% of the code statements. Is the focus of the case studies too narrow? Do the codes address issues of real importance to practitioners? Do the code statements that fall into Category 4 address the issues in the case studies? Category 2 Professionals and Clients (professional-client relationship, professionals' trustworthiness to practice, obligations of clients, and group/team work) contains the highest percentage of code statements and no case studies. Category 4 Professionals and Employers (employees' obligations to employers; employees' obligations to employers versus obligations to others; authority and conflict; employer obligations; and group/team work) contains the second highest percentage of code statements and all the case studies. The codes focus heavily on the professionalism, integrity, and diligence required from professional communicators, particularly in relation to their audience, regardless of their employment status. The case studies all deal with dilemmas experienced by employee technical communicators primarily because of their role as employees. However, the case studies could easily have presented the same dilemmas from the point of view of independent consultants. For example, in the first case described earlier in this chapter, the editor who wanted to edit the company president's newsletter article experienced a conflict between good editorial practice and her relationships with the president and vice presidents of the company 60

PAGE 71

(potential conflict with authority). As an employee, she is obviously subordinate to corporate officers, and will likely behave differently with them than if she were self-employed and working for the company under contract. In the second case described, the technical writer who did not want to write a misleading marketing brochure about his company's device found himself in conflict with another employee of the company (the design engineer) as well as with the writer's direct supervisor. Again, the authority issues are probably different for this writer as an employee than they would be if he were working as an independent consultant. Independent consultants depend upon the goodwill of the client much as employees depend upon the goodwill of their superiors. However, consultants retain more independence from the organization than do employees. Therefore the relationships of consultants to organizations and employees to employers operate under different dynamics. These dynamics could mean that the truth, good practice, and professional integrity issues are subtly different for these professionals as well. The codes address precisely these issues of truth; good practice, and professional integrity for Category 2 Professionals and Clients and Category 4 Professionals and Employers, and many of the code statements fall into both categories. For instance, the American Medical Writers Association Code's Principle 2 states: A medical writer should hold accuracy and truth to be primary considerations and he should provide well balanced, unbiased, undistorted information to the fullest extent of his capabilities. He should use authoritative (preferably original) sources as a basis for his writing, and he should give proper credit, including adequate documentation. 61

PAGE 72

Nothing in that statement distinguishes between employee or consultant professionals who must uphold that standard of professionalism. Presumably both must meet the standard. STC's Code states, "I therefore recognize my responsibility to communicate technical information truthfully, clearly, and economically." Again, this statement does not distinguish between employee and the self-employed professional. The area of conflict, then, that the case studies emphasize so heavily occurs primarily in those relationships in which an employee technical communicator finds herself or himself. Underneath the relationship dilemmas we can find the dilemmas about truth, accuracy, and good practice. As a matter of fact, the dilemmas about truth, accuracy, and good practice may be seen as causing the relationship dilemmas in the case studies. However, since all the case studies present employee dilemmas, they may signal the need for research to address the unique problems faced by employee professionals in meeting professional standards called for in the codes. As described in the case studies, often the problem facing an employee professional in meeting professional standards is related to authority issues between the employee and her employer, whether it be a direct supervisor or others in positions of power. The codes do not address how an employee may resolve a conflict with authority. The duplication of code statements in Category 2 Professionals and Clients and Category 4 Professionals and Employers, compared with zero case studies in Category 2 and 100% in Category 4, raises an issue with the Ethics Framework. The Ethics Framework may not be as effective as possible due to the organization of Bayles' categories. As 62

PAGE 73

mentioned, the issues of truth, accuracy, and good practice would seem important to both employee and self-employed professionals, regardless of their affiliation. Therefore it might make the Ethics Framework more effective to split the issue of professional competence and integrity apart from the issue of professional role as self-employed or employee. Category 5 -Obligations to the Profession (research and reform; publishing; and respect for the profession) falls fourth in the percentage of code statements assigned to it, and contains no case studies. Since this category contains subtopics of publishing and research in addition to the subtopic of respect for the profession, it would seem an important category for both codes to address and case studies to examine. The code statements that do fall here mostly address themselves to behaving honorably towards other members of the profession and helping develop the profession. Typical of the broad statements common to this section are those found in STC's Code: Respect the work of colleagues, knowing that seldom is only one communications solution right and all others wrong. Promote a climate that encourages the exercise of profes sional judgment and that attracts talented individuals to careers in technical communication. One other statement addresses research and another admonishes members not to exploit the association or colleagues for financial gain. Yet there must be numerous ethical issues surrounding research and publication which neither codes nor case studies address. For example, many journals use peer reviewers to review articles submitted for 63

PAGE 74

publication. They also require an author to not submit an article which the journal is considering for publication to any other publication. What should a reviewer do who learns of an article submitted to two journals at the same time? Are there implications if the reviewer does not notify the journal editor? Are there implications if there is an investigation and the author's and/or reviewer's name becomes part of the public record? The few broad code statements that do fall here give little, if any, guidance for specific situations that technical communicators face. In conclusion, the total focus of the case studies on only one category of professional ethics problems is too lopsided, no matter how many technical communicators are employees. It hardly seems likely that employer relationships cause the only ethical dilemmas for technical communicators. In any profession peer discussion of ethical issues iri all areas can provide valuable guidance. In a newly developing profession such as technical communication, such peer discussion develops the groundwork for the profession's stance on important ethical problems. The case studies in particular can provide a useful forum for professionals to debate ethical issues affecting everyone. Therefore, case studies addressing subtopics in all categories would be useful. Those subtopics could be debated, options explored, and solutions discussed without co.mmitting the entire profession to a policy. If the case studies addressed a variety of examples of a particular problem, the resulting debate would likely result in a range of options and points of view. A body of such debate and opinion would also form an excellent basis for developing more material for a code of ethics. The 64

PAGE 75

material in the codes that does exist is too broad to be of real use in the concrete dilemmas in which communicators may find themselves. While it is appropriate that codes delineate broad principles, they could be more applicable to real world dilemmas. Discrepancies Between Codes and Articles Category 2 Professionals and Clients contains the highest percent (32%) of the code statements and only 10% of the articles. Category 4 Professionals and Employers contains 30% of the code statements and 13% of the articles. And Category 5 Obligations to the Profession contains only 11% of the code statements and 35% of the articles. Why is there such a discrepancy between the emphasis of the codes of ethics and the emphasis of the articles published by researchers in the field? In particular, why does Category 5 hold so much interest for researchers and receive so little attention from the codes? Why does Category 2 contain so many code statements and is the subject of so little attention from researchers? While the codes emphasize professionalism and integrity on the part of professionals in relation to those for whom they work, the articles reflect a definite lack in interest in those and most other subtopics of professional-client and professional-employer relationships. Many. of the articles that did fall into Categories 2 and 4 addressed the efficiency, productivity, and processes of group or team work. Researchers are particularly interested in this subject. For example, one article proposes that including a technical communicator on the software development team may help solve software documentation problems and even contribute to more effective software development (Bresko, 1991 ). Implications 65

PAGE 76

for software development are improved efficiency in the development cycle and increased user satisfaction. This article also reports on the results of a survey of software development managers to learn how they perceive and use technical writers. Another article describes the organization of a large publications group, claiming that a team of specialists makes it easier to produce good documentation (Abshire & Culberson, 1985). This article discusses the role of the team in relation to team members and staff in the rest of the organization. A third representative article by Allen, Atkinson, Morgan, Moore, and Snow (1987) describes research conducted with writers in collaborative work settings and a resulting typology of shared-document collaborative groups and definition of interactive writing. This article does not address specific issues relating to either employers or clients of technical communication groups. The emphasis of these articles show that researchers can focus on an area of particular interest to themselves, but which may not be an area of general emphasis for others in the field. Very few articles treated issues of professional competence that would fall into these categories. One subject in particular in Category 4 Professionals and Employers that was of interest to authors was organizational communication issues as they relate to technical communicators. For example, Winsor (1990) writes about what it means to know and to pass on information from the point of view of the sociology of technology and rhetoric in relation to communication breakdown among engineers, scientists, and managers surrounding the Challenger explosion. These professionals were the technical communicators who were writing 66

PAGE 77

memos to each other and to other decision-makers about the problems with the 0 rings. The ethical issues involved in the space shuttle Challenger explosion encompass technical communication, employees versus employers and clients, and the difference between telling true information and communicating danger. In another article, Harrison and Debs (1988) use a systems approach to organizational theory in discussing the role of technical communicators in organizations. Identifying technical communicators as "boundary spanners" describes the relationship a technical communicator has with supervisors, peers, and clients. While these organizational issues are interesting to researchers, the code statements do not specifically address organizational communication. When examining the code statements placed in Categories 2 and 4, we have seen that they focus heavily on values such as truth, accuracy, and the professional's responsibility to uphold professional values (remember STC's Code? "I therefore recognize my responsibility to communicate technical information truthfully, clearly, and economically"). The codes seem to deal with traditional professional values, broadly drawn. Other code statements in Categories 2 and 4 deal with values that are shared with other professions and may have been borrowed, at least conceptually, from other codes. For instance, !ABC's Code statement 2 declares that "Professional communicators will not use any information that has been generated or appropriately acquired by a business for another business without permission. Further, communicators should attempt to identify the source of information to be used." This injunction suggests the long-standing 67

PAGE 78

academic injunction against plagiarism that students learn in school beginning in elementary grades and continuing through college. Yet, the bulk of the articles that did fall into Categories 2 and 4 treat issues not dealt with or dealt with indirectly by the codes. Issues of collaborative writing and organizational communication responsibilities carry more interest to the researchers publishing articles. Perhaps the code statements in Categories 2 Professionals and Clients and 4 Professionals and Employers are so broad and non-controversial that the issues they address do not cause problems which cause much concern for practitioners or researchers. Does anyone disagree with the professional value of communicating information accurately? It is also possible that in developing the codes, the association committees borrowed material from similar codes in similar professions. As described earlier, the first code developed for technical communication was adapted from an engineering code of ethics. Consequently, the material in the codes might not address the particular issues of concern to technical communication. Another possibility is that one purpose for developing the codes was to enhance the credibility of the profession. Therefore, the intent of some of the code statements may be to reassure those outside the field that techriical communicators will behave honorably and that they deserve respect. However, the research taking place focuses on subjects of interest to academicians and professionals themselves. If the codes, then, address the outsider's view of the profession, research and case studies address the interests of the insiders. These differences in focus and purpose would explain the discrepancy in emphasis. The challenge would then become to integrate the results of research and peer 68

PAGE 79

discussion into the codes on an ongoing basis, thereby making the codes useful for practitioners. Category 5 Obligations to the Profession (research and reform; publishing; and respect for the profession) contains the largest percentage of articles assigned to a category, and falls fourth in the percentage of code statements assigned. This category interests researchers the most by far, yet does not carry nearly the same emphasis in the codes of ethics. The articles assigned to Category 5 fall into four subtopics; research, publishing, respect for the profession, and defining technical communication as a profession. The subtopic of research contains articles such as MacNealy's review (1990) of research in technical communication as reported in two 1989 conference proceedings. Reviewing articles published in the International Technical Communication Conference (ITCC) proceed ings and the International Professional Communication Conference (IPCC), MacNealy concludes that systematic research is limited. More typically, she found that most research reported was descriptive and prescriptive (how-to). She concludes with recommendations for helping to develop a more rigorous approach to research in technical communication. Other articles describe how to use different research methodologies. Halpern (1988) describes how qualitative research can benefit technical communication as a profession and gives examples of how to conduct such research. Moorhead (1987) describes how to use ethnographic methods to conduct research in technical communication as a balance to more typical experiments and surveys. These articles describe types of research, and the state of research in technical 69

PAGE 80

communication. They do not examine ethical issues for technical communication research per se. However, the only code statement dealing with research comes from the APWC and does address an ethical issue for research. APWC's Standards statement 4e says "In dealing with materials written by participants in a consulting program, the consultant agrees to --E. Conduct research involving the writing of employees of a client organization only with the prior knowledge and approval of the client organization." So, while there is interest in writing about research, it does not seem to focus on ethical issues. And, though the codes do not generally deal with the research issue, the APWC statement does address a common ethics research issue, that of subject consent. The subtopic of publishing includes issues such as peer review of journal articles, bow to write for publication, and the role of publication in professional development. Estrin (1975) and Patterson (1975) discuss why to Write for publication. Both cite professional development, rewards such as payment and prestige, and personal satisfaction. White (1979) describes a method for analyzing journal publication styles and increasing chances of article acceptance. Parberry (1989).wrote a guide describing the role of a referee for a scientific journal and outlining the process for new referees. A survey of journal editors (Davis, 1985) reveals who supports professional journals, bow editors select articles for publication, common characteristics of rejected articles, and recommendations for publishing. Hess (1975) criticizes the article review process, claiming that it encourages orthodoxy and discourages publication of unusual discoveries. This is one article that raises a potential ethical issue, that 70

PAGE 81

of the review process for accepting articles for publication. However, there seems to be little debate in the literature about specific ethical issues in publishing, though general interest in the subject runs high. No code statements address publishing issues. Under the subtopic of respect for the profession, many articles address issues of professional status, prestige, and pay. Smith (1980, 1985a, 1985b, 1988) addresses this range of issues in a series of editorials on training and curriculum, remuneration as a measure of professional status, the importance of networking, and the difficulties technical communication faces developing itself as a profession. Rochester (1988) reviews the process of professionalization and analyzes where technical communication falls in the process and what still needs to happen for it to become recognized as a full-fledged profession. And, as late as 1989, Hill wrote an editorial about professional status and what technical communicators should do to advance the profession's development. The broadly worded code statements addressing respect for the profession generally call on professionals to support and work for the advancement of the profession. The STC Code states that technical communicators should "Promote a climate that encourages the exercise of professional judgment and that attracts talented individuals to careers in technical communication." The APWC Standards statement 7 states "In relating to other writing consultants, the consultant agrees to support and advance the writing consultant profession, especially by acting as a mentor to other consultants." This subtopic, respect for the profession, holds quite a bit of interest for those who write articles, and most of the code statements in Category 5 Obligations to the 71

PAGE 82

Profession fall here, as well. This is obviously not an area of discrepancies, and is probably not an area calling for immediate attention in further research. Finally, the subtopic of defining technical communication and its role in society contains a large group of articles. Little and McLaren (1987) conducted a pilot survey of technical writers in San Diego County from which they developed a profile of respondents. Stoner and Richter (1990) analyzed technical communication against the concept of Kuhnian paradigms in an attempt to define or uncover a technical communication paradigm. And Whitburn (1977) calls for bridging the gap between science and the humanities, particularly English and communication studies, in order to develop technical communication to its fullest potential. The issue of the role and definition of technical communication are the subject of many articles. While the codes do not specifically address defining the profession or its role in society, there is certainly precedent for them to do so. The STC Code comes closest in its introductory paragraph where it states that technical communicators are "bridges." However, that statement is not really a clear statement of role like the one found in the American Nurses' Association Code for Nurses: "Nursing encompasses the promotion and restoration of health, the prevention of illness, and the alleviation of suffering" (Callahan, 1988, p. 451). Given the interest of the profession in the subject, it certainly would be possible to develop the definition of technical communication in more detail for insertion in a code of ethics. What might we conclude from looking at the paucity of code statements in Category 5 Obligations to the Profession in comparison 72

PAGE 83

with the proliferation of articles covering such a range of subtopics? It seems clear that the interest of those academicians and professionals who conduct research or develop theory resides strongly in issues relating to their identity as a profession. Many of the articles describe how their subject (publishing articles, defining technical communication, conducting more and/or better research) will contribute to the advancement of technical communication as a profession. It makes sense that those people working in a field want that field to be taken seriously and respected by society. Conversely, the newness of the field and need for its development might also explain the reason for so few code statements in Category 5 Obligations to the Profession. When the codes were developed, professionals may not have had a thorough sense of what ethical issues might pertain to technical communication. An STC committee developed the Code for Communicators in the mid to-late 1970s. After 15 years of further research (and rapid expansion of the field) we reasonably might have a greater sense of what important issues a code of ethics for technical communicators should address. Another possible reason for the discrepancy between code statements and articles in Category 5 is that the academicians and professionals who publish articles have a different agenda than those who work at developing a code of ethics. One great motivation behind research and publishing is professional advancement. Certainly publishing is important to an academic career, and it can enhance a commercial career as well. Participating in developing a code of ethics does not provide the same career enhancement. However, enhancing society's view of the profession does provide one motivation for 73

PAGE 84

developing a code of ethics. Society may find a code which emphasizes professional integrity towards clients and employers (Categories 2 and 4) much more impressive than a code that emphasizes the manner in which professionals treat each other and their profession. Discrepancies Between Articles and Case Studies Category 4 Professionals and Employers (employees' obliga tions to employers; employees' obligations to employers versus obligations to others; authority and conflict; employer obligations; and group/team work) ranks fourth in percent of article assignments and first (and only) in case studies. Why do the case studies exclusively focus on Category 4 and the articles barely scratch the surface of most of the subtopics in that category? As discussed above, the focus in the case studies reflects an overwhelming concern with professional employee issues, often dealing with authority relationships and the issue of who is the client. Only 13% of the articles fall into Category 4 and those mostly deal with issues of group and team work and organizational communication issues relating to technical communica tion, such as the article about technical communicators as boundary spanners (Harrison & Debs, 1988) which was mentioned earlier. This discrepancy clearly shows that practitioners experience concern about issues for which almost no relevant research or theory development is taking place. And it seems entirely likely that this discrepancy reflects the fact that it is often academicians who conduct research and publish papers, and that their work reflects their world and interests. The case studies, developed by practitioners, clearly reflect the strains of 74

PAGE 85

maintaining professional integrity in the face of multiple client/ authority relationships typically experienced on the job. Category 5 -Obligations to the Profession (research and reform; publishing; and respect for the profession) contains no case studies, and ranks first (35%) in the percentage of articles assigned to it. As discussed earlier, the research taking place to advance the profession is not surprising, given the investment that researchers have in a well respected profession. The fact that no case studies address this area is problematic. However, this may reflect the issues described earlier, that the case studies were developed by a self-selected group with narrow interests, or that the earlier case studies influenced the development of the later ones. Summary The categorization effort attempted to discover whether using the Ethics Framework would identify meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. If meaningful research issues were identified, recommendations for further research into those issues will contribute to advancing discourse in ethics for technical communication. Specifically we examined three issues: 1. Do the codes of ethics address concerns of practitioners who develop case studies? 2. Do researchers who publish articles have the same interests as practitioners? 3. Does the focus of the codes reflect the interests and concerns of the current research and the case studies in the field? 75

PAGE 86

Categorizing the code statements resulted in 115 statement assignments. Two categories received by far the largest percentage of statement assignments. Category 2 Professionals and Clients received 32% of the statement assignments and Category 4 Professionals and Employers received 30% of the assignments. The other categories all received under 20% of the assignments. Categorizing the case studies from Intercom resulted in 100% of the case studies assigned to Category 4 Professionals and Employers. Categorizing the articles into the Framework resulted in a different distribution. In first place, Category 5 Obligations to the Profession received 35% of the article assignments while in second place, Category 7 Ethics received 17% of the article assignments. Category 3 -Third Parties received 16% while falling fourth and fifth place respectively were Categories 4 -Professionals and Employers with 13%, and 2 Professionals and Clients with 10% of the article assignments. The categories containing the greatest discrepancies in the percentage of code statements, case studies, and articles assigned were then compared to determine if meaningful research issues could be identified from the discrepancies. Between codes and case studies, Category 2 Professionals and Clients received 32% of code statements and no case studies. Category 4 Professionals and Employers contained 100% of the case studies and 30% of the code statements. Between articles and codes, Category 5 Obligations to the Profession contained 35% of the articles and only 11% of the code statements while Category 2 Professionals and Clients contained 32% of the code statements and only 10% of the articles. And, finally, the discrepancies 76

PAGE 87

between articles and case studies occurred in Category 4 Professionals and Employers where 100% of the case studies and 13% of the articles were categorized. Possible explanations for the discrepancies were examined, and the resulting conclusions and recommendations are presented in Chapter 4. 77

PAGE 88

CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The goal of this study was to answer two questions: 1. Why is a comprehensive framework needed for structuring and evaluating research and advancing ethics discourse for technical communication? 2. Can a comprehensive framework help us identify meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication? The reviews of the Society for Technical Communication's (STC) anthology and the three ethics scholarship reviews in Chapter 1 demonstrated the weakness and lack of direction of the existing research in ethics for technical communication. Based on this demonstration, I then proposed using the Ethics Framework as a comprehensive framework for structuring and evaluating research and facilitating ethics discourse for technical communication. Next I categorized ethics articles collected through an extensive literature search and conducted a test of the reliability of the categorization procedure to demonstrate that the Ethics Framework is comprehensive. Categorizing case studies and codes of ethics along with the research articles allowed me to identify some meaningful research issues in ethics for technical communication. 78

PAGE 89

Conclusions from Exploratory Research The Ethics Framework Bayles' outline of issues from Professional Ethics formed the basis of the Ethics Framework. The conceptual premise of the Ethics Framework is that of professional relationships to clients, to employers, to third parties, to the profession itself. Categorizing articles to explore the reliability of the Framework resulted in three conclusions. 1. The Ethics Framework does provide a comprehensive framework for structuring and evaluating research and advancing ethics discourse in technical communication. The Framework provided a broad spectrum of topics within which to categorize the collected articles. The categories also easily contained the codes of ethics and case studies. By providing a context for grouping articles, the Framework creates the possibility for analysis. For example, we saw that issues of professional competence has generated little research while issues of group/team work generated much more interest for researchers. What does this mean for a profession that is debating licensing and credentialing issues? Would research designed to develop a definition of competence in technical communicators help the debate of whether to license them? And, if so, how to do it? 2. The Ethics Framework needs to be modified and refined to better reflect the nature of technical communication 79

PAGE 90

and. issues of importance to the field. As a result of the extensive literature search, three additional subtopics were identified and added to the Framework for the exploratory research. In an effort to keep the Framework as simple as possible for the initial exploration, the additional subtopics were added to the existing Framework. The importance of the subtopics of group/team work, publishing, and the role and definition of technical communication became evident by the number of articles collected which dealt with those issues. Since those subtopics related to already existing categories, they were added to those appropriate categories in the Framework to facilitate the research. For instance, publishing fit into Category 5 Obligations to the Profession since publishing articles in professional journals both enhances the knowledge base for the profession and contributes to one's professional reputation. Group/team work was included in Category 2 Professionals and Clients and in Category 4 Professionals and Employers since the situations calling for group/team work occur when technical communicators work for either clients or employers. Another category was also added, Category 7 Ethics, to contain articles specifically discussing ethics. Ideally, the whole Framework can be useful for identifying ethics issues in a range of areas. However, the group of articles in Category 7 were philosophical and exploratory and 80

PAGE 91

formed a logical unit as articles specifically identifying ethics as the main topic. The topics which this research excluded (international or bilingual communication, teaching ethics, and how-to articles) may also belong in an expanded version of the Framework. Further research and development is recommended in order to modify and refine the Ethics Framework so that it reflects the field of technical communication as accurately as possible. Actually, such effort might reasonably continue as the field evolves and changes. 3. The suitability of the structure of Ethics Framework needs to be examined. Category 2 Professionals and Clients and Category 4 Professionals and Employers both contain the topic of professional trustworthiness the professional's competence and character. They also both contain the topic of group/team work. Duplicating the subtopics in two categories can create confusion. To make the Framework less confusing and most useful, it would be important to structure it so that subtopics were narrowly focused and not duplicated. While Bayles' outline was a useful starting point, it is important to remember that it is only that -a starting point. Additional research and manipulation of the Ethics Framework might result in something that is quite different than what we have started with here. 81

PAGE 92

Research Issues in Ethics for Technical Communication I compared the results of categorizing the codes of ethics of four professional writing/ communication associations with the case studies and with the research articles. Each comparison highlighted differences in the priorities for each type of material. As a result of these comparisons, I recommend the following areas for further research. Expand the focus of case study material. The exclusive focus of case studies on problems of professional employees is too lopsided. While we will not know for certain why the case studies overemphasize one category, we can encourage those who develop the case studies to examine the range of issues to which they look for material. The Ethics Framework helps define other meaningful issues for case studies. Research interest seems high in Category 5 (Obligations to the Profession) which would provide a fruitful set of topics, such as publishing dilemmas, for developing case studies. However, the Ethics Framework does not provide the only method for identifying potential case study material. Articles in professional journals might suggest scenarios for case studies. For example, a number of articles discuss communication breakdowns leading to the Challenger explosion. These could make some powerful hypothetical case studies. Case studies from other disciplines might also contain pertinent issues for technical communicators. The overemphasis of the case studies on the professional employee does suggest issues that would benefit from further research. Clearly, the case studies demonstrate concern with the issues of authority relationships and role conflicts between employee obedience 82

PAGE 93

and professional autonomy. Further research examining those particular problems for technical communicators could provide valuable guidance to the profession. Expand focus of research in categories of the Ethics Framework. Over one-third of the collected articles fell into one of seven categories of the Ethics Framework. It seems self-serving that this category is Category 5 Obligations to the Profession, addressing a professional's obligations to the profession. While general calls for more and better research do not always define where more research would be useful, the results of this study's categorizations define some meaningful areas for further research. The codes of ethics emphasize. Categories 2 (Professionals and Clients) and 4 (Professionals and Employers), and the case studies emphasize Category 4. As a beginning, more ethics research should focus on topics found in those two categories. In particular, meaningful research could examine authority issues in professional/ client or professional/ employer relationships. We can see the benefit of structured discourse in ethics for .-. technical communication in the above two recommendations. It was by examining the case studies in the context of the Ethics Framework that illuminated this area of concern for one group of technical communicators. Examining the articles in the same context of the Ethics Framework showed us that not much research is being conducted that will offer help or solutions for this concern. Refine and develop STC's Code for Communicators. Develop methodology to use codes of ethics to research and to 83

PAGE 94

incorporate results of research into Code. Using the four codes of ethics from professional writing associations provided a suitable amount of material for this study's purposes. STC's Code for Communicators alone does not contain very much material that might provide guidance for a technical communicator looking for such guidance. Further research could use the Ethics Framework and four codes to clarify three issues: 1. Define where weaknesses and strengths exist in the current codes. 2. Discover from practitioners what areas of ethics for technical communication they would find useful for further research and development. 3. Incorporate useful material from the other three codes into the Code for Communicators. The codes of ethics and the research articles emphasize different areas of the Ethics Framework. One question to answer is, Which areas of the Ethics Framework are most important relative to developing the Code for Communicators? An important issue for further work is how to design methods to link ongoing research with developing the Code for Communicators. The profession will only find the Code useful to the extent that it addresses specific areas of concern. Researchers can help develop the Code by conducting research and participating in developing ethical theory and practice. By increasing research efforts in those areas that are essential, perhaps a more well rounded, relevant code of ethics will emerge. The two sides of this work complement each other and should be undertaken together. To accomplish such a task would take a 84

PAGE 95

commitment at an institutional level, as would be appropriately undertaken by the STC. An ongoing commitment to developing a useful and pertinent code for practitioners would enhance the credibility of technical communication as a profession far more than just having a code for the sake of having one. While separate associations designed for specific purposes (medical writers, writing consultants) publish each of the four codes used, the results of the recommended research might be useful for the broader profession of technical/professional/business communication as a whole. Another related recommendation would be for these related writing professions to work together at enhancing and developing useful codes for professional communicators. Ethics (codes, theory, and research) for technical communication contributes to our professional credibility and helps technical communicators practice their profession responsibly and with dignity. Providing structure and direction to ethics discourse will increase the effectiveness of our efforts at developing ethical theory and practice for technical communication. 85

PAGE 96

Appendix A The Ethics Framework

PAGE 97

The Ethics Framework Category 1 Awibbility of Obliplioo& IDd Service I o Competitive bidding o Fee splitting o Contingent feea o Percentage feea 1 Publicity 1 o Advertising o Solicitation Sp:islizstion Accepting lmmollll Clients Category 2 Oblipioml Bctwccen ProfCIIIIiaaall ad Cliada o Agency o Contract o Friendship o Patamalism o Fiduciary I T111stworthiness I o Honesty o Candor o Competence o Diligence 0 Loyalty o Faimess o Discretion o Professional freedom Obligstion o lnmoral clients of Clisnts o Keep ooiT'ITlltments o Truthfulness o Not to request unethical behavior Groupnesm I Work o Subject matter expert& o Team development, writing, editing 87 Category 3 Obliplioaa to Third Putiee Third Parties I o Truthfuln1188 o Non-malfeasance o Faimess Clisnts vs o Legal issues o Conduct ii!ISues o Consumer perspective Copyright, TffldflmBrlc Confidsntislity Category 4 Oblipioml Between Profe&lioaall ad Bmplayas EmployH Obligations o Fiduciary obligations; competence, diligence honesy, candor, discretions, loyalty o Obligations of obedience I :;:nssm I o Subject matter experts o Team development, writing, editing Employers vs o Clients o Third parties o Other employees Authority snd Conflict o Bureaucracy va profeasionaliam o Authority relationships o Subjects of conflicts; technical, moral, conscientious refusal o Organizational disobedience Employer Obllgstions o Universal norms o Role-related noln'IS

PAGE 98

The Ethics Framework (coot' d) Category 5 Obligalioos to the Profeasioo RfiStiBrchsnd Reform o Funding o Human subjects o Significance o Rafonn 1 Publishing 1 o Peer review o Writing articles RtJSpBCt for the Profession o Professionalism; types of clients, providing references, exhibiting respect for peers o Compensation o Collegiality o Definition and role of technical convnunication Category 6 &suring Compli.mce I Controls o Admission to profe991on o Discipline Self-Regulstion I o Alternatives to self regulation; administrative agencies, malpractice suite, civilian boards Motivstions o Effective daterrence o Education o Work satting 88 Category 7 Ethic a Theory & Philosophy Ptsctlcs of Ethics I Ethics How-To I o Writing o Illustration o Readability I Cae Studies I I Codes I Ethics& Rhetoric

PAGE 99

Appendix B Validation Procedure and Coding Sheets

PAGE 100

GOAL To categorize a set of articles about topics which might be important to issues of professional ethics in technical communication. The categories defined are based upon the work of Michael Bayles' Professional Ethics, though I have expanded upon them somewhat. PROCEDURE Review each article as follows: 1. Read the abstract and the summary. If these do not exist, read the first paragraph and last paragraph. If the first paragraph does not introduce the topic, and if the last paragraph does not summarize the topic, then read the first section and last section, using the subtitles as dividers. 2. Next, read the section headings throughout the article. If you feel confident that you have identified whether the article fits in the category, stop with step 2. If you are still unsure about whether the article fits, continue with step 3. 3. Read the topic sentences of each paragraph throughout the article. 4. On the Category Coding Sheet, write yes or no beside the number of the article to indicate whether the article should be included in that category or not. 90

PAGE 101

5. Repeat these steps with all 20 articles for the seven categories. 91

PAGE 102

Category 1 OBLIGATIONS AND AVAILABILITY OF SERVICES FEES Competitive bidding Fee splitting Contingent fees Percentage fees PUBLICITY Advertising Solicitation SPECIALIZATION ACCEPTING IMMORAL CLIENTS Professional freedom Immoral clients Integrity professional should refuse if another will provide services; but probably should not refuse if no other service provider is available Rescue professionals are permitted to refuse services except when service is necessary for minimal well being or equal opportunity No difference professionals do not have a good reason to refuse to accept such clients if other professionals will provide the services anyway, but they do if no one else will provide the services, and they can then prevent wrong from occurring. 92

PAGE 103

If a professional refuses to accept a client on ethical grounds, he or she cannot ethically refer the client to someone else who will provide the services. 93

PAGE 104

Category 2 OBLIGATIONS BE1WEEN PROFESSIONALS AND CLIENTS PROFESSIONAL-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP Types of relationships Agencyclient has authority and responsibility; professional is expert acting at direction of client (advocacy on behalf of client) Contract equal sharing of authority and responsibility; more appropriate for architecture; accounting, and engin eering Friendship close relationship of mutual trust and cooperation; mutual venture, partnership Paternalism the professional acts in behalf of, or to do something for, someone's well-being, regardless of that someone's consent Fiduciary client has more responsibility and authority than in paternalistic model. But clients depend upon professional for much of the information upon which they base their consent. Informed consent of client who still must rely upon and trust the professional. OBLIGATIONS OF TRUSTWORTHINESS Honesty Loyalty Candor (full disclosure) Fairness Competence Discretion Diligence 94

PAGE 105

OBLIGATIONS OF CLIENTS Keep commitments Truthfulness Not to request that the professional act unethically GROUP/TEAM WORK Subject matter experts Team development, writing, editing 95

PAGE 106

Category 3 OBLIGATIONS TO THIRD PARTIES THIRD PARTIES Truthfulness Non malfeasance Fairness CLIENTS VS OTHERS Legal issues (not to break laws on behalf of, or because of, clients) Conduct issues aside from legality (universal norms still apply) To test issues, adopt a consumer perspective COPYRIGHT, TRADEMARK CONFIDENTIALITY Lawyer-Client confidentiality (civil and criminal) Child Abuse AIDS carriers LOYALTY AND THE PUBLIC PURSE Service provision to those who cannot pay results in costs passed along to those who can and do pay 96

PAGE 107

Category 4 OBLIGATIONS BE1WEEN PROFESSIONALS AND EMPWYERS EMPLOYEE OBLIGATIONS Fiduciary obligations competence and diligence honesty and candor discretions loyalty Obligation of obedience GROUP /TEAM WORK Subject matter experts Team development, writing, editing EMPLOYERSVSOTHERS Clients Third parties Other employees AUTHORITY AND CONFLICf Bureaucracy vs professionalism Authority relationships Subjects of conflicts -technical -moral conscientious refusal Organizational disobedience internal disobedience whistle-blowing Unionization and strikes professionalism and unions -strikes 97

PAGE 108

EMPLOYER OBLIGATIONS Universal norms Role-related norms 98

PAGE 109

Category 5 OBLIGATIONS TO THE PROFESSION RESEARCH AND REFORM Funding Human subjects Significance Reform PUBLISffiNG Peer review Writing articles RESPECT FOR THE PROFESSION Professionalism Types of clients Providing references for peers -Exhibiting respect for peers Bearing fair share of labor for fulfilling obligations to the profession as a whole (association membership, etc.) Compensation Collegiality (Relations with other Professionals) Definition and Role of Technical Communicat* (incl. writers, editors, et al.) 99

PAGE 110

Category 6 ENSURING COMPLIANCE CONTROLS to enhance compliance Admission to profession (licensing) discrimination moral character Discipline SELF-REGULATION profession polices its own Distinctions Advantages and disadvantages setting and applying norms violation reporting Alternatives to self-regulation administrative agencies malpractice suits civilian boards MOTIVATIONS Effective deterrence Education Work setting 100

PAGE 111

THEORY & PHILOSOPHY PRACTICE OF ETHICS Category 7 Ethics ETlllCS HOW-TO-WRffiNG, ILLUSTRATION, READABILITY CASE STUDIES CODES ETHICS & RHETORIC 101

PAGE 112

April 18, 1992 Article# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 CATEGORY 1 Yes or No No No FJa -No NnNo No _1k_ No No No' JbL _lk No No., No No 102 Name Karen Rabin

PAGE 113

CATEGORY2 April 18, 1992 Name Karen Rabin Article# Yes or No 1 'fes 2 Yts 3 J1Ye5 4 NO5 No6 je,s 7 __lb_ 8 _h._ 9 No 10 No 11 _$L 12 No 13 14 15 16 17 N-0 18 Np 19 20 103

PAGE 114

CATEGORY3 April 18, 1992 Name Karen Rabin Article# Yes or No 1 No 2 0o 3 jes 4 Wo 5 A 6 Alo 7 8 i ...... _. 9 10 JlD_ 11 Nv 12 o 13 14 Nv 15 "k5 16 No 17 NO 18 19 t" 20 L 104

PAGE 115

CATEGORY4 April18, 1992 Name Karen Rabin Anicle # Yes or No 1 A. 2 '(e_t; 3 '{tS 4 5 'fez 6 7 yes 8 ND 9 bb 10 11 jL 12 No 13 '/e; 14 No 15 rJo 16 jes 17 18 rJo 19 _j)Q_ 20 wo 105

PAGE 116

CATEGORY 5 April 18, 1992 Name Karen Rabin Article# Yes or No 1 NO 2 3 No4 No 5 No 6 7 \Jr. 8 ND9 Nt! 10 11 Wo 12 13 Yes 14 '/es 15 tJu 16 tJo 17 J!L 18 Yes 19 Jill/ 20 JL 106

PAGE 117

CATEGORY 6 April 18, 1992 Name Karen Rabin Article# Yes or No 1 No 2 _jL 3 4 5 Uo 6 '(e,& 7 No 8 No 9 No 10 Nb 11 Nn 12 NO 13 No 14 N., 15 No 16 Nv 17 _No_ 18 Jlo_ 19 20 Jh_ 107 J

PAGE 118

April 18, 1992 Article# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 CATEGORY? Yes or No Alo _!1_ J&_ Ye.s tJo No No UD IVo No I NO No Yes 108 Name Karen Rabin

PAGE 119

CATEGORY 1 v). April 18, 1992 Name i(a&QR Rabin Article# Yes gr N2 1 No 2 No 3 NJ 4 5 Alo 6 tJo 7 A}:> 8 9 10 f1!D 11 /1/o 12 _A_ 13 14 rJv 15 16 Ale 17 tJ(/ 18 19 L 20 Na 109

PAGE 120

CATEGORY2 vJ. April 18, 1992 Name c!
PAGE 121

April 18, 1992 Article# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 CATEGORY3 Yes or No /If(() rf}D fa/ {Je.s/ A _jh__ /1}, Nu Wo _jjg_ _A_ JYL 111 w Name l&ngaa AAbila

PAGE 122

CATEGORY4 April 18, 1992 loU, Name laa9iR Article# Yes or No 1 2 3 4 5 6 h 7 8 9 fl)o 10 11 (f 12 Nu 13 vV-u 14 {No 15 16 17 M 18 Nu 19 (A}u 20 Tv 112

PAGE 123

April 18, 1992 Article# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 CATEGORY 5 Yes or No JJa_ IJo 1/ _$_1L6 O}L"" 'No AiD No 113 ./ c..J. Name 1<8F atiiA-

PAGE 124

CATEGORY 6 c.J April 18, 1992 Name '
PAGE 125

April 18, 1992 Article # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 CATEGORY? Yes or No No JL_ jia_ _Jb_ %-No No /1/o 1:/ 0CJ --TJ JlL ["" / 115 vJ Name K!FeA Aahie

PAGE 126

May 5, 1992 Article# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 CATEGORY 1 Yes or No 0 I ).)o -ye ':> ./ /Jo p, Y esA'o I do J)C f.).D A Po 116 Name: Dan

PAGE 127

May 5, 1992 Article# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 CATEGORY2 Yes or No "es I '!Q.";> No / ye.:s No r No / J.) () / 1 e.c, yes. 'ja. '} t" :s y 'I 4!-s k yes 'J"5 'JfS J \1.,.. I 117 Name: Dan

PAGE 128

CATEGORY 3 May 5, 1992 Name: Dan Article# Yes or No 1 ye:J 2 -F' 3 YtZ.' 4 ya:; 5 6 y(/.':;J 7 8 \1 L$ I 9 10 yg..s 11 ya:, 12 yg,s 13 'I 14 tJ Q / 15 I 16 17 NtJ 18 'IL:f 19 'les 20 \/es I 118

PAGE 129

CATEGORY4 May 5, 1992 Name: Dan Article# Yes or No 1 -F 2 ytjZ 5 3 1.} n I 4 !Jo 5 yes 6 ,, 0 7 ya$ 8 No I 9 yo$ 10 yc.s 11 No 12 Alo 13 No 14 X} a 15 \IpS I 16 17 JJD 18 Yf's 19 20 I l' 0 119

PAGE 130

CATEGORY 5 May 5, 1992 Name: Dan Article# Yes or No 1 2 yes 3 Vo I 4 )l c2'S 5 ya.s 6 7 ye; 8 9 I 10 11 fJp 12 yos 13 ""' (2. I 14 ).) 0.; 15 ''4-4 > 16 ye:, 17 Po / 18 19 )les 20 No f 120

PAGE 131

CATEGORY6 May 5, 1992 Name: Dan Article# Yes or No 1 ya-s 2 Y'-"5 3 4 'J2-S 5 ya5 6 7 '\I Q.:;. I 8 9 ya7 10 ya.s 11 '/
PAGE 132

CATEGORY7 May 5, 1992 Name: Oan Article # Yes or No 1 ,, cz.:z I 2 ya.s 3 4 5 ye:z 6 /Jr:y/ 7 "JQ5 8 \la.5 1 9 !Jo / 10 tJo / 11 No : 12 Ntt 13 14 N(J I 15 y cz.:z 16 "'e s I 17 ,Q, I 18 19 '\I IZ,.-!2 I 20 No / 122

PAGE 133

Appendix C Codes of Ethics

PAGE 134

International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) CODE OF ETHICS The IABC Code of Ethics has been developed to provide IABC members and other communication professionals with guidelines of professional behavior and standards of ethical practice. The Code will be reviewed and revised as necessary by the Ethics Committee and the Executive Board. Any IABC member who wishes advice and guidance regarding its interpreta tion and/or application may write or phone IABC headquarters. Questions will be routed to the Executive Board member responsible for the Code. Communication and Information Dissemination 1. Communication professionals will uphold the credibility and dignity of their profession by encouraging the practice of honest, candid, and timely communication. The highest standards of professionalism will be upheld in all com munication. Communicators should encourage frequent communication and messages that are honest in their content, candid, accurate, and appropriate to the needs of the organization and its audiences. 2. Professional communicators will not use any information that has been generated or appropriately acquired by a business for another business without permission. Further, communicators should attempt to identify the source of information to be used. 124

PAGE 135

When one is changing employers, information developed at the previous position will not be used without permission from that employer. Acts of plagiarism and copyright infringement are illegal acts; material in the public domain should have its source attributed, if possible. If an organization grants permission to use its information and requests public acknowledgement, it will be made in a place appropriate to the material used. The material will be used only for the purpose for which permission was granted. Standards of Conduct 3. Communication professionals will abide by the spirit and letter of all laws and regulations governing their professional activities. All international, national, and local laws and regulations must be observed, with particular attention to those pertaining to communication, such as copyright law. Industry and organizational regulations will also be observed. 4. Communication professionals will not condone any illegal or unethical act related to their professional activity, their organization and its business or the public environment in which it operates. It is the personal responsibility of professional communicators to act honestly, fairly, and with integrity at all times in all professional activities. Looking the other way while others act illegally tacitly condones such acts whether or not the communicator has committed them. The communicators should speak with the individual involved, his or her 125

PAGE 136

supervisor or appropriate authorities --depending on the context of the situation and one's own ethical judgment. Confidentiality /Disclosure 5. Communication professionals will respect the confidentiality and right-to privacy of all individuals, employers clients, and customers. Communicators must determine the ethical balance between right-to privacy and need-to-know. Unless the situation involves illegal or grossly unethical acts, confidences should be maintained. If there is a conflict between right-to-privacy and need-to-know, a communicator should first talk with the source and negotiate the need for the information to be communicated. 6. Communication professionals will not use any confidential information gained as a result of professional activity for personal benefit or for that of others. Confidential information can be used to give inside advantage to stock transactions, gain favors from outsiders, assist a competing company for whom one is going to work, assist companies in developing a marketing advantage, achieve a publishing advantage, or otherwise act to the detriment of an organization. Such information must remain confidential during and after one's employment period. 126

PAGE 137

Professionalism 7. Communication professionals should uphold IABCs standard for ethical conduct in all professional activity, and should use IABC and its designa tion of accreditation (ABC) only for purposes that are authorized and fairly represent the organization and its professional standards. IABC recognizes the need for professional integrity within any organiza tion, including the Association. Members should acknowledge that their actions reflect on themselves, their organizations and their profession. 127

PAGE 138

American Medical Writers Association (AMW A) CODE OF ElHICS Preamble The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) has compiled the following principles of conduct for all individuals involved in medical communication to guide them in their relationships with physicians, fellow writers, other health professionals, government agencies, and all others who may be affected by their communications. Writing is a powerful tool that influences the minds of readers in all walks of life. Therefore, medical writers should honor this code of ethics. Principle 1 A medical writer has the duty to observe the laws and regulations pertaining to the documents he writes, to uphold the dignity and honor of his profession and Association, and to accept their ethical principles. He should not engage in any activity that may bring discredit to his profession or to his Association, such as writing papers or theses for individuals attempting to qualify themselves or preparing other fraudulent documents, and he should promptly expose any illegal or unethical conduct he detects in his profession. Principle 2 A medical writer should hold accuracy and truth to be primary considera tions and he should provide well balanced, unbiased, undistorted information to the fullest extent of his capabilities. He should use authoritative (preferably original) sources as a basis for his writing, and he should give proper credit, including adequate documentation. 128

PAGE 139

Principle 3 A medical writer should never knowingly write or condone the writing of medical information which does not meet high professional standards, whether or not such writing comes under the purview of any regulatory agency. He should always try to prevent the perpetuation of incorrect information, and he should write about a subject only when qualified to do so by training and experience or in collaboration with someone so qualified. Principle 4 A medical writer should not function under conditions or terms which impair or impede proper application of his judgment and skills, which tend to lower the quality of his services, or which require unethical conduct. Principle 5 A medical writer should constantly strive to enlarge and perfect his profes sional knowledge and skills. He should apply these fully, and he should actively participate in. organizations that have as their objective the improvement of his profession. Principle 6 A medical writer should respect the personal and confidential nature of professional records. He should not divulge, without proper authorization, any confidential patient, patent, or other private information to which he has access. 129

PAGE 140

Principle 7 A medical writer may actively seek, through advertisements or other means, ethical professional assignments consistent with his talents and capacity to provide medical communication services. He should accept fair and reasonable remuneration for his services and should honor the terms of contracts he signs. Principle 8 A medical writer should not exploit his Association financially or otherwise, and he should not use his Association, or its publications, or any activities of his colleagues for his own personal gain. 130

PAGE 141

Association of Professional Writing Consultants (APWA) STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCf FOR WRITING CONSULTANTS Writing consultants have an obligation to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct. The members of the Association of Professional Writing Consultants, recognizing this obligation, agree to abide by the following code of professional ethics in providing consulting services. 1. The consultant agrees to maintain the highest standards of service in all dealings with clients and their employees. 2. In promoting consulting services to prospective clients, the consultant agrees to--A. Adhere to professional standards; B. Avoid misrepresenting professional qualifications and affiliations; C. Accurately represent consulting services. 3. In conducting writing instruction, the consultant agrees to --A. Provide instruction only in those areas of writing in which the consultant is well-qualified; B. Attempt to meet the specific writing needs of both the participants and the client organization based, whenever possible, on a critical evaluation of writing samples from the participants and of the communication needs of the organization; C. Base instructional techniques on the best and most recent research and informed opinion; and 131

PAGE 142

D. Present writing as a dynamic process instead of focusing solely on mechanics or products. 4. In dealing with materials written by participants in a consulting program, the consultant agrees to --A. Consider all material provided in the course of consultation to be confidential unless the consultant receives permission to use the material outside the consulting situation. B. Protect the anonymity of the client organization and of the specific writer when publishing materials derived from a consulting arrangement, unless given prior permission in writing to disclose the name of the organization or writer; C. Use no material from a consulting arrangement to disparage either a specific employee or a client organization; D. Refrain from using confidential information acquired in the course of consulting for unethical or illegal advantage; and E. Conduct research involving the writing of employees of a client or ganization only with the prior knowledge and approval of the client organization. 5. In writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to --A Provide clear, concise readable copy which meets the needs of both the client and the intended readers; B. Write copy in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and profes sional standards; and 132

PAGE 143

C. Be rigorously honest when writing sales or promotional materials, attempting to accurately represent the product or service to the customer. 6. In conducting writing instruction and in writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to --A. Advise the client of the legal implications of the written material; and B. Advise the client when the written materials and practices of the client are not consistent with the ethical standards of the professional community. 7. In relating to other writing consultants, the consultant agrees to support and advance the writing consultant profession, especially by acting as mentor to other consultants. 8. In relating to an educational institution, if she or he is affiliated with one, the consultant agrees to --A. Meet all obligations to the educational institution and to students at the institution; B. Meet the terms of any contract signed with the educational institution as they apply to consulting work; C. Use the facilities or supplies of the educational institution in consulting work only if the institution approves of such use and is adequately recompensed for it; and D. Avoid conflicts of interest and advise the client and the institution of any potential conflict. 133

PAGE 144

Society For Technical Communication (STC) CODE FOR COMMUNICATORS As a technical communicator, I am the bridge between those who create ideas and those who use them. Because I recognize that the quality of my services directly affects how well ideas are understood, I am committed to excellence in performance and the highest standards of ethical behavior. I value the worth of the ideas I am transmitting and the cost of developing and communicating those ideas. I also value the time and effort spent by those who read or see or hear my communication. I therefore recognize my responsibility to communicate technical information truthfully, clearly, and economically. My commitment to professional excellence and ethical behavior means that I will Use language and visuals with precision. Prefer simple, direct expression of ideas. Satisfy the audience's need for information, not my own need for self expression. Hold myself responsible for how well my audience understands my message. Respect the work of colleagues, knowing that seldom is only one communications solution right and all others wrong. Strive continually to improve my professional competence. 134

PAGE 145

Promote a climate that encourages the exercise of professional judgment and that attracts talented individuals to careers in technical communica tion. 135

PAGE 146

Appendix D Categorization of Code Statements

PAGE 147

AMWA = American Medical Writers APWC = Assoc. of Professional Writing Consultants IABC = International Assoc. of Business Communicators STC = Society for Technical Communication OBLIGATIONS AND AVAILABILITY OF SERVICES -5 STATEMENTS FEES & PUBLICITY AMWACODE Principle 7 A medical writer may actively seek, through advertisements or other means, ethical professional assignments consistent with his talents and capacity to provide medical communication services. He should accept fair and reasonable remuneration for his services ... APWC STANDARDS 2. In promoting consulting services to prospective clients, the consultant agrees to --A. Adhere to professional standards; B. Avoid misrepresenting professional qualifications and affiliations; and C. Accurately represent consulting services. 137

PAGE 148

OBLIGATIONS BE1WEEN PROFESSIONALS AND CLIENTS 37 STATEMENTS PROFESSIONAL/CLIENT RELATIONSHIP APWC 1. The consultant agrees to maintain the highest standards of service in all dealings with clients and their employees. 8. In relating to an educational institution, if she or he is affiliated with one, the consultant agrees to --A. Meet all obligations to the educational institution and to students at the institution; B. Meet the terms of any contract signed with the educational institution as they apply to consulting work; C. Use the facilities or supplies of the educational institution in consulting work only if the institution approves of such use and is adequately recom pensed for it; and D. Avoid conflicts of interest and advise the client and the institution of any potential conflict. AMWACODE Principle 4 A medical writer should not function under conditions or terms which impair or impede proper application of his judgment and skills, which tend to lower the quality of his services, or which require unethical conduct. 138

PAGE 149

OBLIGATIONS OF TRUSTWORTHINESS(Attribution/Plagiarism) Honesty, (Accuracy /Truth) Candor, Lawful, Competence, Diligence IABC CODE 1. Communication professionals will uphold the credibility and dignity of their profession by encouraging the practice of honest, candid, and timely communication. The highest standards of professionalism will be upheld in all communication. Communicators should encourage frequent communication and messages that are honest in their content, candid, accurate, and appropriate to the needs of the organization and its audiences. 2. Professional communicators will not use any information that has been generated or appropriately acquired by a business for another business without permission. Further, communicators should attempt to identify the source of information to be used. When one is changing employers, information developed at the previous position will not be used without permission from that employer. Acts of plagiarism and copyright infringement are illegal acts; material in the public domain should have its source attributed, if possible. If an organization grants permission to use its information and requests public acknowledgement, it will be made in a place appropriate to the material used. The 139

PAGE 150

material will be used only for the purpose for which permission was granted. 4. It is the personal responsibility of professional communicators to act honestly, fairly, and with integrity at all times in all professional activities .. APWC STANDARDS 3. In conducting writing instruction, the consultant agrees to A. Provide instruction only in those areas of writing in which the consultant is well-qualified; B. Attempt to meet the specific writing needs of both the participants and the client organization based, whenever possible, on a critical evaluation of writing samples from the participants and of the communication needs of the organization; C. Base instructional techniques on the best and most recent research and informed opinion; D. Present writing as a dynamic process instead of focusing solely on mechanics or products. 5. In writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to -B. Write copy in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and professional standards; 140

PAGE 151

C. Be. rigorously honest when writing sales or promo tional materials, attempting to accurately represent the product or service to the customer. 6. In conducting writing instruction and in writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to --A. Advise the client of the legal implications of the written material; B. Advise the client when the written materials and practices of the client are not consistent with the ethical standards of the professional community. STC CODE I therefore recognize my responsibility to communicate technical information truthfully, clearly, and economically. Use language and visuals with precision. Prefer simple, direct expression of ideas. Hold myself responsible for how well my audience under stands my message. Strive continually to improve my professional competence. AMWACODE Principle 1 A medical writer has the duty to observe the laws and regulations pertaining to the documents he writes, ... He should not engage in any activity that may bring discredit to his profession or to his Association, such as writing papers or theses 141

PAGE 152

for individuals attempting to qualify themselves or preparing other fraudulent documents ... Principle 2 A medical writer should hold accuracy and truth to be primary considerations and he should provide well balanced, unbiased, undistorted information to the fullest extent of his capabilities. He should use authoritative (preferably original) sources as a basis for his writing, and he should give proper credit, including adequate documentation. Principle 3 A medical writer should never knowingly write or condone the writing of medical information which does not meet high professional standards, whether or not such writing comes under the purview of any regulatory agency. He should always try to prevent the perpetuation of incorrect information, and he should write about a subject only when qualified to do so by training and experience or in collaboration with someone so qualified. Principle 5 A medical writer should constantly strive to enlarge and perfect his professional knowledge and skills. He should apply these -fully ... 142

PAGE 153

Principle 7 ... [A medical writer] should honor the terms of contracts he s1gns. OBLIGATIONS TO TIIIRD PARTIES 21 STATEMENTS TIIIRD PARTIES IABC CODE 3. Communication professionals will abide by the spirit and letter of all laws and regulations governing their professional activities. All international, national, and local laws and regulations must be observed, with particular attention to those pertaining to communication, such as copyright law. Industry and organizational regulations will also be observed. 4. Communication professionals will not condone any illegal or unethical act related to their professional activity, their organization and its business or the public environment in which it operates . . Looking the other way while others act illegally tacitly condones such acts whether or not the communicator has committed them. The communicators should speak with the individual involved, his or her supervisor or 143

PAGE 154

STC appropriate authorities-depending on the context of the situation and one's own ethical judgment. Satisfy the audience's need for information, not my own need for self-expression. CUENTS VS OTHERS CONFIDENTIALITY APWC STANDARDS 4. In dealing with materials written by participants in a consulting program, the consultant agrees to --A. Consider all material provided in the course of consultation to be confidential unless the consul tant receives permission to use the material outside the consulting situation; B. Protect the anonymity of the client organization and of the specific writer when publishing materials derived from a consulting arrangement, unless given prior permission in writing to disclose the name of the organization or writer; C. Use no material from a consulting arrangement to disparage either a specific employee or a client organization; D. Refrain from using confidential information ac quired in the course of consulting for unethical or illegal advantage; 144

PAGE 155

IABC CODE 5. Communication professionals will respect the confidential ity and right-to-privacy of all individuals, employers, clients, and customers. Communicators must determine the ethical balance be tween right-to-privacy and need-to-know. Unless the situation involves illegal or grossly unethical acts, confidences should be maintained. If there is a conflict between right-to-privacy and need-to-know, a communicator should first talk with the source and negotiate the need for the information to be communicated. 6. Communication professionals will not use any confidential information gained as a result of professional activity for personal benefit or for that of others. Confidential information can be used to give inside advantage to stock transactions, gain favors from outsiders, assist a competing company for whom one is going to work, assist companies in developing a marketing advantage, achieve a publishing advantage, or otherwise act to the detriment of an organization. Such information must remain confidential during and after one's employment period. 145

PAGE 156

AMWACODE Principle 6 A medical writer should respect the personal and confidential nature of professional records. He should not divulge, without proper authorization, any confidential patient, patent, or other private information to which he has access. OBLIGATIONS BETWEEN PROFESSIONALS AND EMPLOYERS 35 STATEMENTS EMPLOYEE OBLIGATIONS AMWACODE Principle 4 A medical writer should not function under conditions or terms which impair or impede proper application of his judgment and skills, which tend to lower the quality of his services, or which require unethical conduct. APWC 8. In relating to an educational institution, if she or he is affiliated with one, the consultant agrees to -A. Meet all obligations to the educational institution and to students at the institution; B. Meet the tenns of any contract signed with the educational institution as they apply to consulting work; C. Use the facilities or supplies of the educational institution in consulting work only if the institution 146

PAGE 157

approves of such use and is adequately recom pensed for it; D. Avoid conflicts of interest and advise the client and the institution of any potential conflict. IABC CODE 1. Communication professionals will uphold the credibility and dignity of their profession by encouraging the practice of honest, candid, and timely communication. The highest standards of professionalism will be upheld in all communication. Communicators should encourage frequent communication and messages that are honest in their content, candid, accurate, and appropriate to the needs of the organization and its audiences. 2. Professional communicators will not use any information that has been generated or appropriately acquired by a business for another business without permission. Further, communicators should attempt to identify the source of information to be used. When one is changing employers, information developed at the previous position will not be used without permission from that employer. Acts of plagiarism and copyright infringement are illegal acts; material in the public domain should have its source attributed, if possible. If an organization grants permission to use its 147

PAGE 158

information and requests public acknowledgement, it will be made in a place appropriate to the material used. The material will be used only for the purpose for which permission was granted. 4. It is the personal responsibility of professional communicators to act honestly, fairly, and with integrity at all times in all professional activities .. APWC STANDARDS 3. In conducting writing instruction, the consultant agrees to A. Provide instruction only in those areas of writing in which the consultant is well-qualified; B. Attempt to meet the specific writing needs of both the participants and the client organization based, whenever possible, on a critical evaluation of writing samples from the participants and of the communication needs of the organization; C. Base instructional techniques on the best and most recent research and informed opinion; D. Present writing as a dynamic process instead of focusing solely on mechanics or products. 5. In writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to -148

PAGE 159

B. Write copy in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and professional standards; C. Be rigorously honest when writing sales or promo tional materials, attempting to accurately represent the product or service to the customer. 6. In conducting writing instruction and in writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to -A. Advise the client of the legal implications of the written material; B. Advise the client when the written materials and practices of the client are not consistent with the ethical standards of the professional community. STC CODE I therefore recognize my responsibility to communicate technical information truthfully, clearly, and economically. Use language and visuals with precision. Prefer simple, direct expression of ideas. Hold myself responsible for how well my audience under stands my. message. Strive continually to improve my professional competence. AMWACODE Principle 1 A medical writer has the duty to observe the laws and regulations pertaining to the documents he writes, ... He should 149

PAGE 160

not engage in any activity that may bring discredit to his profession or to his Association, such as writing papers or theses for individuals attempting to qualify themselves or preparing other fraudulent documents ... Principle 2 A medical writer should hold accuracy and truth to be primary considerations and he should provide well balanced, unbiased, undistorted information to the fullest extent of his capabilities. He should use authoritative (preferably original) sources as a basis for his writing, and he should give proper credit, including adequate documentation. Principle 3 A medical writer should never knowingly write or condone the writing of medical information which does not meet high professional standards, whether or not such writing comes under the purview of any regulatory agency. He should always try to prevent the perpetuation of incorrect information, and he should write about a subject only when qualified to do so by training and experience or in collaboration with someone so qualified. Principle. 5 A medical writer should constantly strive to enlarge and perfect his professional knowledge and skills. He should apply these fully ... 150

PAGE 161

Principle 7 ... [A medical writer] should honor the terms of contracts he signs. OBLIGATIONS TO THE PROFESSION 11 STATEMENTS RESEARCH AND REFORM APWC 4. In dealing with materials written by participants in a consulting program, the consultant agrees to --E. Conduct research involving the writing of employ ees of a client organization only with the prior knowledge and approval of the client organization. RESPECT FOR THE PROFESSION IABC CODE 7. Communication professionals should uphold IABC's stan dard for ethical conduct in all professional activity, and should use IABC and its designation of accreditation (ABC) only for purposes that are authorized and fairly represent the organization and its professional standards. IABC recognizes the need for professional integrity within any organization, including the Association. Members should acknowledge that their actions reflect on them selves, their organizations and their profession. 151

PAGE 162

AMWACODE Principle 5 ... and he should actively participate in organizations that have as their objective the improvement of his profession. Principle 8 A medical writer should not exploit his Association financially or otherwise, and he should not use his Association, or its publica tions, or any activities of his colleagues for his own personal gain. APWC STANDARDS 7. In relating to other writing consultants, the consultant agrees to support and advance the writing consultant profession, especially by acting as mentor to other consultants. STC CODE Respect the work of colleagues, knowing that seldom is only one communications solution right and all others wrong. Promote a climate that encourages the exercise of professional judgment and that attracts talented indi viduals to careers in technical communication. 152

PAGE 163

ENSURING COMPLIANCE 6 STATEMENTS SELF-REGULATION IABC CODE 4. Communication professionals will not condone any illegal or unethical act related to their professional activity, their organization and its business or the public environment in which it operates . . Looking the other way while others act illegally tacitly condones such acts whether or not the communicator has committed them. The communicators should speak with the individual involved, his or her supervisor or appropriate authorities --depending on the context of the situation and one's own ethical judgment. APWC STANDARDS 6. In conducting writing instruction and in writing materials for a client, the consultant agrees to --B. Advise the client when the written materials and practices of the client are not consistent with the ethical standards of the professional community. AMW A Principle 1 ... to uphold the dignity and honor of his profession and Association, and to accept their ethical principles. .. he should promptly expose any illegal or unethical conduct he detects in his profession. 153

PAGE 164

BIBLIOGRAPHY Abshire, G. M., & Culberson, D. (1985). A team approach to produc ing good documentation. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, PC 28( 4 ), 38-41. Allen, N., Atkinson, D., Morgan, M., Moore, T., & Snow, C. (1987). What experienced collaborators say about collaborative writing. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 1(2), 70-90. Arnett, R. (1987). The status of communication ethics scholarship in speech communication journals from 1915 to 1985. Central States Speech Journal, 38, 44-61. Bayles, M.D. (1989). Professional ethics (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Boyet, K. (1989). Technical writing and ethics: A review of the literature. Proceedings of the 36th International Technical Communication Conference (pp. 104-106). Bresko, L. L. (1991). The need for technical communicators on the software development team. Technical Communication, 38(2), 214-220. Brockmann R. J. (1988). Ethical case for discussion. Intercom, 34(4), 4. Callahan, J.C. (Ed.). (1988). Ethical Issues in Professional Life. New York: Oxford University Press. Clark, G. (1987). Ethics in technical communication: A rhetorical perspective. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, PC 30, 190-195. Davis, R. M. (1985). Publication in professional journals: A survey of editors. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, PC28, 34-43. 154

PAGE 165

Estrin, H. A. (1975). Writing for publication. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 5, 99-102. Griffin, J. (1989). When do rhetorical choices become ethical choices? In R. J. Brockmann & F. Rook (Eds.), Anthology series: Technical communication and ethics (pp. 63-70). Washington, DC: Society for Technical Communication. (Reprinted from Proceedings of the 27th International Technical Communication Conference, 1980) Halpern, J. W. (1988). Getting in deep: Using qualitative research in business and technical communication. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 2(2), 22-43. Handler, S. (1990). Ethics case: The case of the mislaid pricing summary. Intercom, 36(3), 10. Harcourt, J., Krizan, A. C., & Merrier, P. (1987). Business communication. Cincinnati, OH: South-Western. Harrison, T. M., & Debs, M. B. (1988). Conceptualizing the organizational role of technical communicators: A systems approach. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 2(2), 5-21. Hess, E. L. (1975). Effects of the review process. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, PC-18, 196-199. Hill, J. W. (1989). State of the profession. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 32, 129-130. Kallendorf, C., & Kallendorf, C. (1989). Aristotle and the ethics of business communication. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 3(1), 54-69. Lewis, P. V. (1985). Defining "business ethics": Like nailing Jello to a wall. Journal of Business Ethics, 4, 377-383. Lewis, P. V. (1989). Ethical principles for decision makers: A longitudinal survey. Journal of Business Ethics, 8, 271-278. 155

PAGE 166

Lewis, P. V. & Reinsch, N. L., Jr. (1983). Ethical and unethical behaviors in business communication. In S. J. Bruno (Ed.), Business communication: The corporate connection. 1983 Proceedings of the Amen"can Business Communication Association (pp. 3-13). Houston, TX: School of Business and Public Administration, University of Houston--Clear Lake. Lewis, P. V., & Reinsch, N. L., Jr. (1989). The ethics of business communication. In R. J. Brockmann & F. Rook (Eds.), Anthology sen"es: Technical communication and ethics (pp. 29-44). Washington, DC: Society for Technical Communication. (Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1981 Amen"can Business Communication Association Conference, 1981) Lewis, P. V., & Timmerman, J. E. (1985). Ethical decision making as a management imperative for organizational communication. In S. J. Bruno & J. D. Pettit, Jr. (Eds.), Travel in time: Tradition to technology. 1985 Proceedings of the Association for Business Communication (pp. 101-112). Lewis, P. V., & Williams, J. W. (1976). The effect of moral judgments on leadership styles. InS. J. Bruno (Ed.), 1776-1976: From revolution to revelation. 1976 Proceedings, Southwest ABCA (pp. 127-145). Houston, TX: School of Professional Studies, University of Houston--Clear Lake. Little, S. B., & McLaren, M. C. (1987). Profile of technical writers in San Diego County: Results of a pilot study. Journal of Technical Wn"ting and Communication, 17, 9-23. MacNealy, M.S. (1990). Moving toward maturity: Research in technical communication. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 33, 197-204. McBath, J. H., & Jeffrey, R. C. (1983). Defining speech communica tion. In M. L. Ambrester & F. D. Julian {Eds.), Speech Communication Reader (pp. 5-15). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. (Reprinted from Communication Education, 1978, 27) 156

PAGE 167

Michaelson, H. (1990). How an author can avoid the pitfalls of practical ethics. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 33, 58-61. Moorhead, A. E. (1987). Designing ethnographic research in technical communication: Case study theory into application. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 17, 325-333. O'Neill, M. T. (1991). Ethics case: The editor's dilemma. Intercom, 37(2), 4. Parberry, I. (1989). A guide for new referees in theoretical computer science. SJGACT News, 20(4), 92-109. Patterson, T. T. (1975). Why you should publish. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, PC-17, 2-4. Quible, Z. K., Johnson, M. H., & Mott, D. L. (1981). Introduction to Business Communication. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Radez, F. (1989). STC and the professional ethic. In R. J. Brockmann & F. Rook (Eds.), Anthology series: Technical communication and ethics (pp. 3-5). Washington, DC: Society for Technical Communication. (Reprinted from Technical Communication, 1980, 27) Reinsch, N. L., Jr. (1990). Ethics research in business communication: The state of the art. Journal of Business Communication, 27, 251-272. Rochester, J. (1988). The professionalization of technical communication. International Professional Communications Conference 1988 Conference Record, 309-312. Rubens, P. M. (1989). Reinventing the wheel? Ethics for technical communicators. In R. J. Brockmann & F. Rook (Eds.), Anthology series: Technical communication and ethics (pp. 15-20). Washington, DC: Society for Technical Communication. (Reprinted from The Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 1981, 11) 157

PAGE 168

Sachs, H. L. (1989). Ethics and the technical communicator. In R. J. Brockmann & F. Rook (Eds.), Anthology series: Technical communication and ethics (pp. 7-10}. Washington, DC: Society for Technical Communication. (Reprinted from Technical Communication, 1980, 27) Schaefer, M. M. (1980). Introduction to the special section on ethics. Technical Communication, 27, 4. Shimberg, H. L. (1989). Ethics and rhetoric in technical writing. In R. J. Brockmann & F. Rook (Eds.}, Anthology series: Technical communication and ethics (pp. 59-62). Washington, DC: Society for Technical Communication. (Reprinted from Technical Communication, 1980, 27) Smith, F. R. (1980). In pursuit of professionalism. Technical Communication, 27(3), 2. Smith, F. R. (1985a). Don't be a hermit. Technical Communication, 32(3), 4-5. Smith, F. R. (1985b}. How much do you make? How much are you worth? Technical Communication, 32(2), 6-7. Smith, F. R. (1988). The challenges we face. Technical Communica tion, 35, 84-88. Stoner, R. B., & Richter, J. D. (1990). In search of a technical communication paradigm. Proceedings of the 37th International Technical Communication Conference, RT-12-13. Sudul, R.M., & Stoner, R. (1990). Does the STC Code for Communi cators provide for the ethical dilemmas of the twenty-first century? Proceedings of the 37th International Technical Communication Conference (pp. ET-94-97). Turner, P. W. (1971). Infonnation systems: A framework for analysis. Unpublished master's thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. 158

PAGE 169

I Walzer, A E. (1989). Professional ethics, codes of conduct, and the Society for Technical Communication. In R. J. Brockmann & F. Rook (Eds.), Technical communication and ethics: Anthology series (pp. 101-105). Washington, DC: Society for Technical Communication. Whitbum, M.D. (1977). The past and the future of scientific and technical writing. Journal of Technical Writing and Communica tion, 7. 143-149. White, L. C. (1979). Increasing article acceptance. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 9, 153-161. Wicclair, M. R., & Farkas, D. K. (1989). Ethical reasoning in technical communication: A practical framework. In R. J. Brockmann & F. Rook (Eds.), Anthology series: Technical communication and ethics (pp. 21-25). Washington, DC: Society for Technical Communication. (Reprinted from Technical Communication,. 1984, 31) Winsor, D. A. (1990). The construction of knowledge in organizations: Asking the right questions about the Challenger. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 4(2), 7-20. 159