Monday, April 2, 2012

References Related to Documentation Quality

Some of the references (articles, books, presentations, etc.) that I collected pertaining to documentation quality. I am sure there are much more out there, so, I'll keep on searching.

Assessing the adequacy of documentation through document quality indicators
Arthur, J.D., K.T. Stevens
Software Maintenance, Proceedings., Conference on

Professional recognition and respect through quality
Reilly, Annette
Technical Communication. 40(2): 231-33

Quality in Document Design: Issues and Controversies
Schriver, Karen
Technical Communication. 40(2): 239-57

Book: Managing Your Documentation Projects
Hackos, JoAnn
New York: John Wiley & Sons

Defining Quality in Technical Communication: A Holistic Approach
Smart, Karl, Kristie Seawright, Kristin Bell DeTienne
Communication. 42(3): 474-81

What is Quality?
Smith, Karl
InterCom. 42-43

Demonstrating Effectiveness and Value: A Process for Evaluating Technical Communication Products and Services
Carliner, Saul
Technical Communication. 44(3): 252-65

Quality Improvement: Benchmarking, Document Design, and the STC
Sheffield, Michael
Technical Communication. 44(3): 225-34

Book: Developing Quality Technical Information: A Handbook for Writers and Editors
Hargis, G., Hernandez, A.; Hughes, P.; Ramaker, J.; Rouiller, S.;Wilde, E
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice- Hall

Newsletter: DocQment Quality SIG
Fisher, L., Atkinson, J., Steele, K., Jong, S.
Volume 6, Number 2, Spring, 1998

Readability and computer documentation
Hargis, Gretchen
ACM Journal of Computer Documentation. 24, 3: 122-131

The Issue of Quality in Professional Documentation: How Can Academia Make More of a Difference
Spilka, Rachel
Technical Communication Quarterly. 9(2): 207-220

You Get What You Measure—So Measure Quality
Jong, Steven

Proving Your Quality
Jong, Steven

Assessing Quality Documents
Smart, Karl
ACM Journal of Computer Documentation. 26(3): 130-140

Thesis: Software Documentation – Building and Maintaining Artefacts of Communication
Forward, Andrew
Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Computer Science

Towards a documentation maturity model
Huang, Shihong, and Tilley, Scott
Proceedings of the 21st annual international conference on Documentation (SIGDOC '03). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 93-99

Automatic evaluation of aspects of document quality
Dufty, David, Danielle McNamara, Max Louwerse, Ziqiang Cai, and Arthur Graesser
Proceedings of the 22nd annual international conference on Design of communication: The engineering of quality documentation (SIGDOC '04). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 14-16

Presentation: An Approach to Quality Technical Information: Outlining Nine Quality Characteristics
Corbin, Michelle, and DeRespinis Fran

A Metrics-Based Approach to Technical Documentation Quality
Wingkvist, A.; Ericsson, M.; Lincke, R.; Löwe, W.
Quality of Information and Communications Technology (QUATIC), 2010 Seventh International Conference on the , vol., no., pp.476-481, Sept. 29 2010-Oct. 2 2010

Who should be the judge
of documentation quality?
Shashidhar, Poornima
STC India, 2010 12th STC Conference on

Automatic assessment of software documentation quality
Dautovic, Andreas
Automated Software Engineering (ASE), 2011 26th IEEE/ACM International Conference on , vol., no., pp.665-669, 6-10 Nov. 2011

Presentation: Documentation Quality Review
Tharoor, Gopalakrishna
STC India, 2011 13th STC Conference on, Dec. 2011

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quality definition and measurement by JoAnn Hackos in her book on managing doc projects

Hackos, JoAnn. 1994. Managing Your Documentation Projects. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Discussion about quality and doc quality
  • Quality has never been simple to define because quality in technical publications is relative. Quality depends, at least in part, upon the perceptions of the users. 
  • Technical communicators have been reluctant to define narrowly what constitutes quality in technical publications. 
  • Simple measurements can be called as "manufacturing quality"--spelling, grammar, and formatting errors. This quality is important to the appearance and credibility of publications.
  • Tom DeMarco explains in Controlling Software Projects (DeMarco, 1982): "You cannot control what you cannot measure."
  • Issue of quality is also economic and emotional.

Definition of doc quality

Crosby defines quality as "conformance to requirements" (Crosby, 1979)

Various definitions of quality within the organization:
- rapid development
- low cost
- complete tech description of the product
- absence of technical errors
- attractive publication
- zero copyediting errors
- measured in usability

Hackos' definition of quality
Quality is meeting the needs of the customer, which makes it a political issue in most orgs because requirements of diverse customer communities must be balanced against each other. This means that group with most power might get to define quality.

Quality should include the needs of diverse customers.
Technical publications that add value have quality.

High-quality publications:

- make information more accessible
- make customer more productive quickl
- reduce training costs
- lower the barriers for discretionary and infrequent users
- foster use by diverse user communities
- reduce the cost of customer support
- can reduce the cost of field maintenance
- can increase sales of a product

Hackos' prescription for achieving quality
- set standards
- hire good people
- use good tools of the trade

To establish a quality metric, Hackos suggests setting levels of quality.
When establishing levels, take into account both product and process measurement.
Product measurement—describes attributes that can be judged by reviewing the finished document; index, organization, style, and accuracy
Estimating metric—hours per page

Defining Quality in Technical Communication: A Holistic Approach--Smart, et al

Smart, Karl, Kristie Seawright, Kristin Bell DeTienne. 1995. Defining Quality in Technical Communication: A Holistic Approach. Technical Communication. 42(3): 474-81.

Article describes existing attempts to define quality and puts forth the authors' approach to defining doc quality.

Discussion about doc quality
  • Serious attempt to apply principles of TQ to technical communication (Becker 1993; Fredrickson 1990; Weymouth 1990; Horowitz 1989; Jones 1989) 
  • Increased discussion of quality in TC—more than 100 presentations on quality issues in 1992 and 1993 STC conference Proceedings (pp. 185-187). May 1993 issue of Technical Communication featured a special section on quality. 
  • Quality in technical communication has come to connote everything from quality standards and customer requirements to personal perceptions of professional communicators. The lack of universally accepted definition of quality remains one of the common concerns expressed in research on quality (Dobyns and Crawford-Mason 1991).

Authors' approach
Authors adapted Garvin’s (1998) framework to TC and used the 2-dimensional model to plot 6 major categories of quality definitions:
  • Transcendent: perceived quality 
  • Design-based: conformance to specifications, process stability, defect levels, conformance to customer requirements 
  • Product-based: product features, performance, reliability, accessibility, usability 
  • Customer-based: customer satisfaction and need fulfillment, fitness for use 
  • Value-based: customer satisfaction, satisfaction at a reasonable cost 
  • Strategic: Predictability and usefulness of readability formulas is limited (Giles 1990; Redish and Seltzer 1985; Clark 1975) 
    • Design-based: Quality metrics and criterion-reference measures have become common (Schriver 1993) 
    • Product-based: in TC attributes such as usability, accessibility, and reliability used to determine quality (Fredrickson 1992) 
Quality in TC can be defined as a synthesis of those product and service attributes—including accessibility, readability, and usability—that combine to add value for customers, meeting or exceeding their needs and expectations.