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E414.010 Technical Editing Fall 2006. MEM 048 and computer lab (028)
Deborah C. Andrews MEM 135 Phone: 302.831.8788 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.english.udel.edu/dandrews / Office hours: Tuesday 2-3; Wednesday 11-12; and by appointment Email questions and comments are always welcome
Fall 2006. MEM 048 and computer lab (028)
Deborah C. Andrews
Office hours: Tuesday 2-3; Wednesday 11-12; and by appointment
Email questions and comments are always welcome
Job Description: Copy Editor
[We seek] a scrupulous copy editor who will perform accurate and nuanced copy edits; coordinate each stage of the publication process from manuscripts through final proofs; and proofread, fact check, and generally enforce quality control for a wide variety of projects. ….the ideal candidate will adhere to professional editorial standards and know when to “break the rules” as the text requires. Must have an eye for catching design, typography, and layout flaws; the ability to juggle projects with competing schedules; and the flexibility to adapt when priorities change. The successful candidate will be audience-focused, team-oriented and deadline-driven. A bachelor’s degree is required, preferably in English, journalism or a related field.
(job posting from the
Development and Alumni Relations office,
In this course, you’ll go a long way towards matching such a job description. We’ll look at editing as a broad process for ensuring that an information product on a page or a screen works for its author and for its audience. Editors collaborate with authors to envision the many possibilities for conveying information and to select the most effective one. They are adept at gathering information from different sources through different methods. They are well informed about matters of style and presentation in both words and visuals. They understand how documents can help solve problems. They know how to manage editing projects and work as an editor with subject matter experts on interdisciplinary teams. They can build and maintain good relationships with authors both in face-to-face meetings and online.
C. Rude. Technical Editing.
Assignments and Grading
Guidelines for assignments are available at the course website and will be discussed in detail in class.
Study group exercises (3) 30 percent
MEEG project 40 percent
CUHK project 10 percent
Issues report 10 percent
Quiz and class participation 10 percent
--You must complete all assignments by their due dates to pass the course
--Assignments are due at class time on the dates indicated
on the schedule. I do not accept late assignments. If you have an emergency or
an important conflict, please provide a rationale to me in an email message before
the deadline, noting how you will complete the assignment.
Since this course prepares you for your role as a
professional in the workplace, each class period is considered a meeting to
which you have committed by signing up for the course. We’ll discuss
assignments in detail in class, we’ll do exercises that reinforce the readings
in the text, we’ll hear guest speakers, and you’ll participate in several
workshops with your teammates and study groups. All these activities are hard
to make up if you’re not there. As is common at such meetings, your
participation is expected. The course can only be successful if participants
share ideas, listening respectfully to others and inviting as well as
responding to comments. Unprofessional participation, including being late,
leaving early, holding side conversations, and using course technologies for
unrelated purposes and unexcused absences will result in a reduction in your
grade. If you have an emergency that prevents you from attending the class or
from arriving on time, email me in advance with a strategy for catching up. If
your email is persuasive, I’ll accept your strategy.
If you have a disability requiring specific arrangements in this class, please let me know as soon as possible. I’ll keep this information confidential.
As noted in the job description, editors need to juggle projects with “competing schedules” and have the “flexibility to adapt” when things change. In this course, as in a professional context, our schedule needs to adapt to the schedule of the clients for our work. The deadlines below for course readings are relatively fixed, and those for our client projects represent our negotiations to date. But project deadlines may need to shift as our clients shift their work. All changes will be announced in class and appropriate adjustments made. Written assignments are indicated in italics.
To enhance and demonstrate your understanding of what you read in the course text about the process and products of editing, you will participate in three graded projects.
Editor on a team with mechanical engineering (MEEG) students
The most complex project, one that has been a component of this course for several years, is serving as in the role of editor (on a two-or-three student editorial team) with teams of senior mechanical engineering students completing an extensive capstone design project. These projects are sponsored by local industries. Details about the projects, the sponsors, and the students’ reporting requirements are available at the course website: www.me.udel.edu/meeg401/06. Another website, www.writing.eng.vt.edu, provides extensive background about engineering reports. Peruse both websites to bring yourself up to speed on such communication. At the beginning of the semester, representatives of sponsoring industries present their needs to the mechanical engineering students during a kind of recruiting fair. By attending sponsors night you’ll gain insights into the projects as well as insights into how managers and engineers communicate their work.
On the second day of class, you will be assigned to an editorial team aligned with one or two MEEG teams with whom you’ll work throughout the semester. On 12 September, you will meet with your MEEG counterparts in person to lay the groundwork for your collaboration. After that, you may work largely virtually through the exchange of documents in MyCourses. As you’ll see, these reports tend to be complex: lots of text, numbers, and visuals. You’ll probably need to read segments several times before writing a summary comment for the MEEG team members and diving into editing on the screen. Particularly early in the semester, you may find yourself a bit overwhelmed, especially if the project is a highly technical one. But part of what you are learning in this course is an ability to work with subject matter experts (SMEs) in fields that are not your own. Engaging with these reports will help you enhance that ability.
As you’ll become increasingly aware through our readings in the course text, it’s best if you can encourage your MEEG teammates to talk about their work and to work in modules that you can exchange in advance of the deadlines for drafts noted in the schedule (and, trust me, subject to change). Several of our class sessions will be available for you to advance the MEEG project. The nature of that work necessarily differs from team to team as you assess their writing and negotiate with teammates the level of intervention appropriate to them and their project. In addition, the MEEG teams, like teams in general in the workplace, differ in their seriousness about their tasks, in their abilities to cut through problems to achieve results, in their management and compatibility as a team, and in their communication skills. Your grade in the course is not dependent on their success, although your efforts toward their achieving that success will be acknowledged. Your grade will be based on the quality of your editing and on the quality of your correspondence with your MEEG team, on at least three email updates to me written with your editing teammate (s), and on a final reflection concerning the project written individually at the end of the semester. Your ability to edit the MEEG texts, your seriousness about the editing project and professionalism as demonstrated by your account, the richness of the content of your emails, and the clarity and appropriateness of your expression, these are the criteria for your grade.
In the email updates to me, briefly summarize your activities during the reporting period and consider whether you need to change the scope or approach of your editing. Things happen. The update takes that into consideration. It’s not about excuses; it’s about a reasonable picture of where your work stands.
Cover the status of the work to date. In the first email, describe the editing approach you agreed on with your teammates (implied assumption: agree on an approach early in the semester). Then in subsequent emails, assess your work in those terms:
--what you did
--why you did that
--how successful your editing was
--how successful you and your teammates were in working together
If you discovered gaps or problems in your work, note any corrective actions you think might be needed. In addition, discuss the MEEG team’s collaborative process, note if any correctives are needed, and outline those corrective steps.
In the final reflection, connect what you have learned in our class to your field experience in the project. You should know more about editing and collaborating with authors. You should also know more about engineering genres, the visual presentation of quantitative material, engineering problem solving and the documents that foster such activities, project management and the management of clients and sponsors, oral reporting, and the like. What surprised you about the collaboration? What contributes to or hinders good teamwork? What kinds of editing comments were most useful? How would you have done things differently?
Editor, Student project,
Presenter, report on a dimension of technical and scientific editing
Individually or with one other student, you will present to the class a 10 minute briefing on an important dimension of our field, which is a broad and interdisciplinary one. You may, for example, look at publications, online or in print, in such disciplines as health care, the environment, the hospitality industry, or finance. You may look at the history, purpose, and range of activities supported by professional associations, for example, the National Association of Science Writers, the American Medical Writers Association, the Society for Technical Communication. You may look at online resources for editors. You may look at style guides addressed to particular corporations or particular disciplines. The textbook can inspire your thinking about a topic, but the report should go beyond the text. It represents research on a current aspect of the field and a deeper and richer investigation of something that may only be covered superficially in the text. Bring all of us in the class up to date on your particular dimension of choice. Provide me with the thumbnail sketch version of your slides (6 to a page). Indicate your own name(s) on a first slide, along with your title. Carefully cite all sources and note quoted material clearly. You’ll be grade on the effectiveness of your oral delivery; the significance, depth, and accuracy of your information; and the clarity and attractiveness of your slides.