What If Technical Writers Can’t Document Their Sources Properly?

Since it’s spring break this week (at Metro) and next (at Red Rocks), I’ve been catching up on my reading.  Yesterday I read the January issue of Intercom, which is published monthly by The Society for Technical Communication. I was happy to learn about Writer River and and meet its creator, Tom Johnson, via e-mail.

Today I read the February issue (Vol. 56, No. 2), and I was disappointed with the article by Tony Self, “What If Readers Can’t Read?” (10-14).  First, all the documentation that he did provide was in the form of URLs in parentheses following the reference to the source.  Aside from being difficult to read–especially in such narrow columns, this method doesn’t provide enough information about the sources he used, like the names of authors or creators, the titles, and the dates of publication.  (The preceding article, “Is There a Write Way to Collaborate?” by Charlotte Robidoux and Beth Hewett (4-9), had a proper APA-style References list, but I couldn’t find any in-text, parenthetical citations.)

Second, on the first page of text (11) in Self’s article, he referred to a “self-survey at Kansas State University” about student reading habits.  He provided no documentation at all for the survey, though at the end of the article, he did mention that it was distributed in a YouTube video.  Here is that video (I think):

A Vision of Students Today

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