A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Ethics

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In recent years, technical communicators have examined ethics, or the moral implications of their work, in increasing detail. Since the 1970s, when ethics first became a major topic of consideration in technical communication journals, more articles have appeared on the subject each year. With writers in the discipline expressing this pessimistic point of view, it is little wonder that practicing technical communicators tend not look to the discipline for ethical guidance.

 

101.
#14730

Spam on the 'Net: An Ethical Dilemma   (PDF)

Archee examines the ethical and practical problems associated with receiving and sending unsolicited e-mail.

Archee, Raymond K. Intercom (2001). Articles>Workplace>Ethics>Email

102.
#35918

Spectacle at Web2.0 Expo...From My Perspective

Last week, I gave a talk at Web2.0 Expo. From my perspective, I did a dreadful job at delivering my message. Yet, the context around my talk sparked a broad conversation about the implications of turning the backchannel into part of the frontchannel. In the last week, I've seen all sorts of blog posts and tweets and news articles about what went down. At this point, the sting has worn off and I feel that it would be responsible to offer my own perspective of what happened.

Boyd, Danah. Zephoria (2009). Articles>Presentations>Social Networking>Ethics

103.
#30854

Strengthening the Ethics and Visual Rhetoric of Sales Letters   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article provides details about a comprehensive assignment for teaching sales letters in a business communication course. During the past 5 years, this assignment has evolved, moving beyond one that focused almost exclusively on strategies for making the letter persuasive, and therefore effective, to an expanded form that devotes time and attention to the ethics and visual rhetoric of the letter. In addition to composing a sales letter, each student is required to write a detailed, thoughtful analysis of the ethics and visual appeal of his or her letter.

Williams, Linda Stallworth. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Education>Correspondence>Ethics

104.
#30709

A Study of Beliefs and Behaviors Regarding Digital Technology   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study analyzed individual perceptions of various situations involving actions likely to be considered unethical by most people. It explored perceptions of the acceptability of parallel technology-based and non-technology-based vignettes, self-rated behavior regarding the survey scenarios and consistency between self-rated behavior and the level of acceptance of the vignettes. The responses from 453 participants were analyzed by age, gender, ethnicity and amount of weekly access to computers at home.The participants were more accepting of the technology-based survey items and were also more likely to engage in those behaviors than the non-technology items; however, the participant responses indicated a low level of acceptance for the scenarios and only a minimal likelihood that they would participate in them. Additional findings across the comparison groups are reported and discussed.

Poole, Dawn. New Media and Society (2007). Articles>Technology>Ethics>Surveys

105.
#24929

Success is a Many-Splendored Thing   (PDF)

Managers of four of the Society's professional interest committees (PICs) launch discussions of what the new STC ethics guidelines mean to the areas of professional practice their PICs represent: Marketing, Scientific Communication, International Technical Communication, and Consulting and Independent Contracting.

Atkinson, Jennifer M. and Lee Taylor. STC Proceedings (1995). Careers>TC>Ethics

106.
#35792

The Tact of Social Media Monitoring

Focuses on opportunities for network conversation analysis to elicit valuable information about the social context of brand mentions. The challenge for marketers lies in how to use this information in a way that preserves trust with customers.

SxDSalon (2009). Articles>Social Networking>Privacy>Ethics

107.
#30162

Teaching Ethics Isn't Enough: The Challenge of Being Ethical Teachers   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Rather than acting on less examined beliefs, I am personally comfortable acting on ethics that have been burnished by repeated polishing from my colleagues, community, and profession. Let us use our professional conferences and journals to further that conversation.

Kienzler, Donna S. JBC (2004). Articles>Education>Ethics

108.
#19591

Technical Writing and Publication Ethics   (PDF)

A discussion of what one must and must not do in peer-reviewed publishing.

Fang, Shu-Cherng. North Carolina State University (2002). Articles>Publishing>Ethics

109.
#10881

Technical Writing and Research Ethics

Pointers to information about research and writing, intended primarily for computer science.

Zobel, Justin. JustinZobel.com (2001). Articles>Writing>Ethics

110.
#26546

The Business Ethics Blog

This blog includes news and commentary about business ethics and corporate social responsibility.

MacDonald, Chris. Business Ethics (2005). Resources>Business Communication>Ethics>Blogs

111.
#25510

Time to Close the Web?

The electronic privacy invasion points to the failure of site designers to provide compelling content, clear navigation, and a user experience memorable enough to entice repeat visits. Click-thru is more important than Content. We have opted to become Electronic Rapists.

Herrell, Alan. List Apart, A (2000). Design>Web Design>Ethics

112.
#33860

Tips for Presenting Ethics Practices

Because the nature of ethics information is highly abstract and related to integrity, it is based upon judgment and therefore subject to varying interpretations by employees. To increase common understanding and consistent interpretations, the use of language, choice of words, sentence formation, and presentation style are important.

Urgo, Raymond E. Policies and Procedures Authority, The (2008). Articles>Presentations>Ethics>Policies and Procedures

113.
#14915

Towards a Sense of Ethics for Technical Communication

Many articles from recent decades begin with the assumption that technical communicators do not have much power to make ethical decisions about their work. We need to start with a basic understanding of the relationships that technical communicators build with that audience in their work and identify ways in which those relationships might have ethical implications.

McBride, Alicia. Orange Journal, The (2002). Articles>TC>Ethics

114.
#35737

Tweet Ethics: Trust and Transparency in a Web 2.0 World

Don’t we all want to get the conversation going in a positive direction when it comes to representing the companies and clients we work for? And while there have, of course, always been incidents of deception in journalism and PR, somehow the advent of the Internet and social media has made this a much bigger issue. As PR representatives and journalists for individuals and companies learn more about the benefits of Twitter and other forms of social media, questions are arising about how—and how not—to present information.

Pophal, Linda. Communication World Bulletin (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Ethics>Social Networking

115.
#33249

UPA Code of Professional Conduct

The Code of Professional Conduct of the Usability Professionals' Association expresses the profession's recognition of its responsibilities to the public, clients, employers, and colleagues. The Code guides members in the performance of their professional responsibilities and express the basic tenets of ethical and professional conduct.

Usability Professionals Association (2005). Articles>Usability>Professionalism>Ethics

116.
#33244

Usability Testing: Revisiting Informed Consent Procedures for Testing Internet Sites   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper explores issues of professional, ethical conduct in usability testing centering around the concept of 'informed consent'. Previous work on informed consent has been in homogeneous geographic locations. With Internet sites being developed at a prodigious rate, these procedures need to be revisited for their applicability to heterogeneous locations, in terms of culture, business practice, language and legal requirements. Some previously valued principles might now be considered discretionary, that is their applicability has situational specificity. Other principles are mandatory.

Burmeister, Oliver K. ACM (2000). Articles>Usability>Testing>Ethics

117.
#30843

Waiver Culture: The Unintended Consequence of Ethics Compliance   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The passage of the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002) spawned a series of compliance and ethics programs--the revised Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations known as the Thompson Memo (Thompson, 2003), the revised Federal Sentencing Guidelines that included the Effective Compliance and Ethics Program and the corporate 'culpability score' (U.S. Sentencing Commission, 2004), and another revision of the Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations now known as the McNulty Memo (McNulty, 2006). These programs were meant to shift business toward an 'organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct and a commitment to compliance with the law' (U.S. Sentencing Commission, 2007). These developments spurred human resource departments and legal counsel to draft new workplace policies to embrace, implement, and monitor compliance programs. Consequently, there was a dramatic increase in the number of businesses with some kind of ethics training: from 44% in pre-guideline 1987 up to 92% in post-guideline 2005 (Berenbeim, 2006). Because compliance with the McNulty Memo and Federal Sentencing Guidelines can substantially reduce an organization's sentence of improper conduct or cause the government not to prosecute (Berenbeim, 2006), an organization under investigation could turn to its newly minted compliance programs and its cooperation as a shield. But these federal guidelines lacked a clear definition of an organization's 'cooperation' and whether a lack of cooperation could be viewed as obstruction of justice and thereby increase punishment of that organization.

Genova, Gina L. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Legal>Ethics

118.
#18266

When the Customer Isn’t Right: A Workshop in Handling Conflicts When Clients Behave Unethically   (PDF)

As consultants and freelancers, we try to adhere to the theory that our clients are always right. However, clients are sometimes dead wrong. Most of us at one time or another face situations in which clients ask us to behave unethically or treat us unethically. How do we handle such situations and maintain good client relations? This workshop explores the use of a value analysis model in resolving ethical dilemmas, using representative case studies.

Allen, Lori A. and Dean Graves. STC Proceedings (1996). Careers>Freelance>Ethics

119.
#14703

Who's Policing the Policy Makers?   (PDF)

This ethics case concerns a technical writer charged with the task of introducing new company policies to employees. The writer faces a dilemma when she discovers that the workplace habits of some managers contradict the policies. Reader responses to this ethics case will appear in an upcoming issue of Intercom.

Wiles, Debbie. Intercom (2001). Articles>Workplace>Ethics

120.
#26990

Working Day: 9 to 5

A video documentary about the appropriate use of computer technologies in the workplace, which may be useful in talking about workplace ethics.

Johnson, Rachel. EServer (2006). Academic>Course Materials>Ethics>Workplace

121.
#34815

Writing for the Robot: How Employer Search Tools Have Influenced Résumé Rhetoric and Ethics    (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

To date, business communication scholars and textbook writers have encouraged résumé rhetoric that accommodates technology, for example, recommending keyword-enhancing techniques to attract the attention of searchbots: customized search engines that allow companies to automatically scan résumés for relevant keywords. However, few scholars have discussed the ethical implications of adjusting résumé keywords for the sole purpose of increasing searchbot hits. As the résumé genre has evolved over the past century, strategies of résumé “padding” have likewise evolved, at each stage violating one of four maxims of the Cooperative Principle. Direct factual misrepresentation violates the maxim of quality and is of course discouraged, but résumé writers have turned in succession to violations of manner (formatting tricks) and then more recently to violations of quantity and/or relevance with deceptive keywording techniques. The authors conclude by suggesting several techniques to business communication instructors that may encourage students to create more ethically sound résumés.

Amare, Nicole and Alan Manning. Business Communication Quarterly (2009). Careers>Resumes>Search Engine Optimization>Ethics

122.
#26989

Google广告有害吗?

Google是一个什么样的公司?对于大多数人来说,对这个问题的回答会是“搜索”。虽然说Google确实是一个关注搜索的公司,它却并不靠搜索来生存。与之相反,和其它公司一样,由利益来决定。并且就像John Gruber所指出的,它通过出售广告来生存。 这使得Google成为一家广告公司。这意义也许比你一开始猜测的要深远的多了。 不过让我们不要走得太远。让我们来谈一会儿可用性。我将要向您解释Google对于广告的必要关注可以让我们学到很多可用性的内容。更严格的讲,这篇文章将描述一个困境,一个与Google对于发布商如何防止广告的建议紧密相关的困境。可用性解决了这个困境,也因此告诉我们许多如何将商务与用户体验结合起来。

Rhodes, John S. uiGarden (2006). (Chinese) Articles>Web Design>Ethics>Search

123.
#39264

Why Corporate Social Responsibility? An Analysis of Drivers of CSR in India   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study aimed to generate a more nuanced and socioculturally grounded analysis of the key drivers of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in India than those provided by current debates. Results, based on 19 elite, in-depth conversations with business leaders and senior managers actively involved in shaping CSR in India revealed that participant understandings of the drivers of CSR in India simultaneously negotiated apparently contradictory notions of moral and economic imperatives. Building on earlier calls for culturally locating the study of CSR, the article further proposes that the ancient Indian concept of dharma might be a probable theoretical framework within which these key drivers of CSR in India could be further understood.

Dhanesh, Ganga S. Management Communication Quarterly (2015). Articles>Business Communication>Ethics>India

 
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