Quality in Technical and Scientific Writing


Writing skills are declining! A recent Communicare survey of Canadian workers bears this out: 58 percent of workers spend as many as 4 hours each day reading emails, reports, memos, and online text, which is about 50 percent of a day’s work! According to this survey, because of poor writing, much of that time is wasted: “71 percent of respondents have heard complaints about writing quality, 63 percent noted writing errors, 70 percent claimed lost productivity as results, and 85 percent say poor writing wastes time.”Certainly, wasting readers’ time affects a company’s profitability and worker productivity, not only in the actual time spent reading, but in answering the questions that are sure to arise and in clarifying points of the original document.What's to be done? Certainly, as I pointed out in earlier blog and which we discuss in our latest white paper, students aren't graduating with the writing skills they need to be successful and, more important, critical thinkers and writers. Consequently, what often happens is that managers end up editing the documents of their staff, when this clearly is not their job. Staff need to be trained to think critically about their writing, which means having them consider audience, purpose, the function of their writing and the document, and what they hope to achieve. In short, effective writing training is more than simply training in grammar.