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Single Sourcing and Content Management: A Survey of STC Members

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Purpose: To gather reliable empirical data on (1) STC members' use of and attitudes toward single sourcing and/or content management (SS/CM) methods and tools; (2) factors perceived to be driving or impeding adoption of this technology; (3) transition experiences of adopting work groups; (4) perceived impacts of SS/CM methods and tools on efficiency, usability, customer focus, and job stress.

Method: Cross-sectional sample survey of 1,000 STC members conducted in May 2008; multiple survey contacts by email with link to online survey instrument.

Results: Of 276 respondents, half reported using SS/CM methods and tools. About 1 in 10 respondents reported experience with a failed implementation of SS/CM; half the SS/CM users reported significant downsides or tradeoffs. Perceived top drivers of SS/CM adoption were faster development, lower costs, regulatory and compliance pressures, and translation needs. About 1 in 9 respondents used Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). Large company size made use of SS/CM significantly more likely, and work groups using single sourcing with content management were significantly larger than work groups of other SS/CM subgroups and non-users of SS/CM. Single sourcing without content management seems destined to achieve a larger proportion of adopters than single sourcing with content management, barring a technology breakthrough. Among all respondents, Microsoft Word and FrameMaker were the most-used primary authoring tools.

Conclusions: With regard to these methods and tools, STC members appear to be in the Early Majority phase of Everett M. Rogers's innovation adoption curve. Diffusion of these methods and tools appeared to have been steady in the five years prior to the survey, with no dramatic increase in more recent pace of adoption.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-11-01

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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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