Technical Writing In Animal Science

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The first interview I conducted for my blog posts was with Dr. Mark Murphey, a graduate from Texas A&M University with a doctorate in Animal Science. Dr. Murphey is an Associate Professor at Louisiana Tech University and has a lifetime of experience with animals ranging from maintaining the health of newborn animals to meat production. Since I am attending Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine beginning in August, this is a field that affects my career and life in all aspects. Though Dr. Murphey is a PhD doctor, as opposed to a veterinarian, he has spent his career preparing students for veterinary school, as well as working alongside veterinarians. To begin the interview, I asked Dr. Murphey one simple question: How does technical writing apply in our field of business? We went on to discuss a number of different aspects of our current and future careers and the conversation ended up being extremely enlightening. First and foremost, the fields of animal science and veterinary science are technical fields. Those who are practitioners of each are scientist. Headway is made in both fields through experiments, research, trials, failures, and successes. In order to communicate the results of any of these experiments, there must be documentation. This documentation is done in the form of a technical report, academic article, and other publications that allow for the public and other scientists to see the work that has been performed and the results that have been obtained. In fact, without technical writing, we would be very far behind our current standing in these fields. Without the research there is no need for technical writing. With this being said, technical writing provides us with a pathway to communicate with one another in clear, common, understandable terms. One might be able to even say that the ability to communicate our knowledge technically is equally as valuable as the research that was conducted in order to obtain the knowledge itself.

As a veterinarian or producer of livestock, technical writing can play a very valuable role in a number of other ways, as well. Technical writing is a field that is extremely open and flexible, allowing it to touch on publications such as data sheets, instructions, directions, advertisements, and the list goes on and on. It is important for the health and safety of animals and humans that products have clear directions and information including warning labels, doses, and information such as withdrawal times. These labels allow for the consumer to be safe and properly treated by insuring that the veterinarian has all of the necessary information to make sure that pharmaceuticals are being administrated properly. This information also provides the veterinarian with any potential threats that this pharmaceutical may pose to them, as well as instructions on how to handle the situation properly if it were ingested. From a production standpoint, technical writing plays an extremely important role in advertisement. Many multi-million dollar cattle operations exist across the United States. However, without proper advertisement, people would not travel across the country in order to buy livestock from these particular farms, simply because they would not be aware of what was there for them to purchase. I am very thankful that I was able to do this interview with Dr. Murphey, simply because it opened my eyes to the important role that technical writing plays, even in the life of a simple cattle producer or large animal veterinarian.

Tanner Roberts

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