Program Recap: The STC Technical Communication Body of Knowledge

On Tuesday, February 18, STC-SM hosted a webinar with Dr. Pam Estes Brewer of Mercer University. Dr. Brewer provided an overview of the STC Technical Communication Body of Knowledge (TCBOK), which was first presented to the STC in May 2009.

Dr. Brewer, who was chair of the TCBOK committee in 2019, began her presentation by pointing out that other fields, such as engineering, medicine, and law all have bodies of knowledge, which describe and share their standards, processes, and knowledge. This helped to build credibility in these professions over time. They also have external certifications, just as STC offers technical communication certification along with emphasizing academic programs. Having both academic programs and a body of knowledge allows for synergy between business and academia as both work together to further the practice of technical communication.

The TCBOK is being developed by volunteers (there are no paid positions associated with the TCBOK) and it is still under construction. The committee consists of a chair, a chief editor, a society liaison, a community engagement facilitator, a group of editors, and volunteer contributors.

What Can I Find in the TCBOK?

The TCBOK contains articles, links, and annotated bibliographies on a wide variety of technical communication information. The site is organized under four high-level domains of knowledge:

  • Technical communication
  • Career management
  •  Producing information
  •  Researching

Each area contains vetted information pertaining to its theme, as well as a list of topics for which they still need content.

Technical communication

The Technical Communication section defines tech comm and discusses the history and future of the profession as well as ethics, professional organizations, and the value of technical communication.

Career management

The Career Management section discusses academic programs, professional development, and resources for new technical communicators, including STC certification and the various career paths one can take.

Producing information

The Producing Information section covers tools and technologies, information design and development, products, standards, and how to manage groups and cross-cultural content.

Researching

The Researching section is helpful to students and teachers and discusses applied theory and research methods. It contains bibliographies, glossaries, and journal information.

Want to Get Involved?

Any member of STC can contribute to the TCBOK. Contributors aren’t cited on their individual articles, but they are credited as contributors overall. The site provides a new content submission form for use when submitting new content or editing existing articles. It also provides a form for submitting summaries of relevant content that exists outside the TCBOK.

The Content Needed sidebar contains a list of topics that the TCBOK committee would like more information on, but you can also propose topics not listed there. Articles are pulled by the Chief Editor who sends them out to one of the editors on the committee. The work is then either accepted, accepted with revisions, or not accepted. The committee considers if the information has already been covered in the TCBOK and if it’s verifiable.

Current TCBOK Committee

If you’d like to know who is behind the TCBOK, committee members are listed under contributors. Currently, they are:

  • Liz Herman, Chair
  • Deanne Levander, Chief Editor
  • James Cameron, Society Liaison
  • Joanna Schreiber, Community Engagement Facilitator
  • Laura Harding, Kim Kahat, and Cindy Johnson, TCBOK Editors

Next Steps

Dr. Brewer said that she would like to see more groups of editors working at the same time. This would get the work done faster and would also provide a broader perspective. She would also like to see more content as well as structured authoring and navigation. By using and contributing to the TCBOK, we can continue to participate in its growth. If you have questions about the TCBOK, visit the Contact Us page and submit them directly to the TCBOK Committee.

For more about Dr. Pam Estes Brewer, including contact information, see About Our Speaker from our program announcement.