Review Cycle in Technical Writing
Concise, accurate and writing in a surgical way is required in technical writing. The technical writer first understands the requirement of the product, follows various tasks to gather relevant information and conveys it through his skill in form of documentation to the client. The task of understanding complex functions and concepts and documenting them in a simple logical manner to make end-users understand is not at all easy. The document must be well structured with the content under appropriate headings and must have a professional appearance.
Review for a document is necessary to ensure that it is free of errors. Precise and concise writing is what is required in a good technical writing. Therefore, it is required to review a document before presenting it to the SME.
A review is the best way to make sure that all the content is integrated in the document in the accurate manner. The document is forwarded to a number of people for review either serially or concurrently after its completion. Association between the reviewers is needed during this phase. The document is then updated with the appropriate changes suggested by the reviewers. A review may occur again after this and then changes made for publication of the document. This cycle is usually repeated number of times to make the document error free.
On the lines of SDLC and DDLC, a document can be put through different types of reviews. This can be considered as the Document Review Life Cycle (DRLC).
Ideally, this must be performed before any other review. This is a way to ensure that the document is drafted in the best possible way. Spellings, grammar, document structure, styles applied must be checked for. Inclusion of screenshots gives the document a better look. For the document structure, TOC, index, glossary, cross-references, headers, footers etc. must be checked for. Referencing must be in the proper referencing style. Once all these are checked, the document is ready for other reviews.
Peer review is the review in which a technical writers work, concepts or research work is forwarded for analyzing to other experts of the same field. Peer review is performed within a group of same expertise and able to carry out a fair review. For example, a peer review is done between a Project Manager and writer. A fair review is difficult to achieve in an organization due to the growing competition. This type of review is often considered to be slow, less effective and unsuccessful. Apart from this, this review may also boost the writers to achieve the required standards, and avoids spreading of unnecessary claims, individual views, immaterial results and objectionable interpretations. A document without peer review may often be regarded with doubt by other professionals.
Reviewers: Project Manager , group of people with same expertise
Once a document has gone through self and peer reviews, technical review must be carried out then. In this review, the technicality of the document is checked by various technical people depending on their expertise. This review also checks for the document structure, updating the document with troubleshooting and error tips and warnings and glossary.
Reviewers: Subject Matter Expert (SME)
Basically, the editorial review comprises of basic and elaborate reviews.
Basic reviews include checking of proper punctuation, basic spelling, tenses, use of proper voice and sentence length and structure.
Elaborate reviews include along with basic reviews, things like checking for locate, proper use of acronyms, style guide, defective parallelism etc.
Usually, two types of updates are made to the documents after technical and editorial reviews are conducted- Content Updates and Structural Updates
Reviewers: Release Manager
These reviews are performed by the Legal Department. They include and take account of Registered Trademarks, End-User’s Licensing Agreement (EULA), Disclaimers and Trademarks (™), and the likes.
This is the final review which accounts for any careless changes and updates made to the document and performs the tasks needed to complete a document.