Tag Archives: ethical standards

Malone: The Beginnings of Technical Communication Professionalization

Malone, Edward A. “The First Wave (1953-1961) of the Professionalization Movement in Technical Communication.” Technical Communication 58, no. 4 (2011): 285-306.


Edward Malone writes a compelling article that demonstrates the long-term project that is the professionalization of technical communication.

Malone identifies six professionalization issues that he believes contribute to a profession’s maturation or pathway to such a status. The issues are:

  • Professional Organizations
  • Body of Knowledge
  • Ethical Standards
  • Certification of Practitioners
  • Accreditation of Academic Programs
  • Legal Recognition

In each issue, technical communication has made great strides towards professionalization, yet in other areas it continues to lag behind other professions. Malone concludes that professionalization has always been a long term project, so the set backs experienced do not diminish the scale of the achievements made so far. These achievements should be the foundation for quiet optimism despite the frustrating aspects experienced in other areas.

Despite the successes and inroads made into establishing technical communication as a profession, much remains – in particular, educating the public about the profession of technical communication and being treated as such. This is one of the last remaining barriers towards the success of technical communication as a profession, and one that will not be quick to overcome. Despite reaching┬álegal, ethical, and educational goals towards professionalization, technical communication still has work to do if it hopes to overcome public perception and for technical communicators to have a standardized answer to the question, “So what is it that you?”


Why is the professionalization of technical communication is necessary?

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