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What Kind of Quality Are We Ensuring with Document Draft Reviews?

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"Quality Methods" also often called Total Quality Management (TQM) methods, are very popular in all kinds of organizations now. Writers and writing groups are being encouraged to adopt "Quality" methods such as Six Sigma and formal inspections. However, writers and writing groups have long been conducting draft reviews as part of less formal quality control procedures. This ethnographic study investigated the extent to which draft reviews improved the technical accuracy of two computer documents, and whether these draft reviews were similar enough to formal inspections to be considered TQM technique. The results of the study suggest that, although some improvements are made in technical accuracy during draft reviews, these draft reviews also provide technical reviewers a forum to make suggestions about all aspects of the text, even stylistic issues. At times, the writers were coerced into revising the text even when the revision may not have helped—and might have hindered—the users of the document. Therefore, I recommend that draft reviews (and perhaps even document inspections, given their similarities) be supplemented by numerous other quality control techniques such as user reviews and usability testing.

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: August 1, 1995

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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