Writing Procedures: ASK

ASK (Answer Six Key questions)

Writing procedures begins with this step: answering the following questions. Write the answers down; your procedure will be based on them.

  1. Who are the intended readers? Determine, or worst case, estimate how much they know about the process. Are they novices, experts, or somewhere in between? How familiar are they with process-related words, terms, and equipment? Be sure to provide definitions and descriptions when necessary, in the summary/overview.
  2. When and how often should it be performed? Specify how the reader knows when it’s time to perform the procedure. Note if there are specific times when these steps shouldn’t be done.
  3. Why is it necessary? Clearly state the desired behavioral goal for your readers. For example: By following this procedure, the reader will build an avian-habitable bird house, or the reader will successfully calibrate a meter.
  4. What conditions must be true in order for the end goal to occur? List all required preparatory checks and prework steps. List the tools, equipment, and/or materials that are needed.
  5. What are the steps? Starting at the beginning, list the steps that must be completed. Then start at the end and construct a flow chart that moves backwards from the end goal to make sure that you haven’t missed any. A short version of this list will be your summary/overview.
  6. What follow-up is necessary? When the procedure is completed, list the tools that must be restored to their original status. Note what items should be checked. Indicate what forms or notification procedures must be completed.

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