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Collaboration and Ethics
Chapter 2 discusses different ways of writing in collaborationwith a partner, on a team, with
management review, for multiple reviewers, with a technical editor, and with an online team.
Also covered are key questions for writers about ethics, including plagiarism.
“Writing with Others,” provides students with an overview of the various kinds of collaborative
writing efforts that may occur on the job. You might open the discussion by asking students to
describe their own experiences when they have collaborated on projects. Students can discuss
advantages and disadvantages of working with others. Then, direct the students to the checklists
for ways to work smoothly with others in various situations.
“Writing Ethically” introduces students to the idea of ethical responsibility in writing technical
documents. The checklist will help students review their writing. The readings on ethics in Part 2
will be particularly useful here. “Technical Documentation and Legal Liability” by Caher
explains a legal case brought against a company based on the written medical instructions for a
pharmaceutical product. “The Buck Stops Here” by Rasberry presents an ethical dilemma.
“Ethical Reasoning in Technical Communication: A Practical Framework” by Wicclair and
Farkas reviews ethical dilemmas in the workplace and discusses responsibility for presenting
correct information. The Code of Ethics of the International Association of Business
Communicators is included for discussion.
Models and Exercises
Model 2-1 shows two drafts of a fact sheet written by an intern. The commentary section on the
model includes the supervisor’s response to the writer’s first draft. The second draft shows the
revisions the writer made. The exercises with the model offer discussion topics and a
collaborative writing task.
Exercises include individual, collaborative, and Internet-based tasks.
Reading Quiz for Chapter 2
1. When two people write a document together, what is the best way to handle gathering the
Answer: They should divide the task by topics, so each one is not overworked and they do
not duplicate each other.
2. What is the basic disadvantage of writing with a group?
Answer: conflicts among team members about ideas, style, and procedures
3. Name two of the usual duties of the coordinator of a writing team.
Answer: call meetings; set agendas; lead discussions; create spreadsheet to track progress of
team members; coordinate the full draft; send the draft for review to people not on the team
4. When conflicts with another writer occur, should you handle the disagreement in person or
write a detailed memo that explains your position?
Answer: discuss in person
5. Why should a manager avoid such comments as, “The report is no good”?
Answer: The comment does not give the writer any specific suggestions for revision.
6. What is a wiki?
Answer: A wiki is a central Web site which allows writing team members to review and
7. What does the term “ethics” refer to?
Answer: a set of moral principles
8. Why is plagiarism a serious ethical violation?
Answer: A plagiarist takes credit for someone else’s work.
9. Why have some people been fired for writing on blogs or Facebook?
Answer: They wrote inappropriate comments about their companies or coworkers.
10. What is copyright?
Answer: legal protection for the ownership rights of creators of original works