A Model Curriculum for Document Engineering


Charles Nicholas, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, nicholas at umbc dot edu
Ethan Munson, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, munson at uwm dot edu


Document Engineering has reached a state of maturity as a discipline to warrant some uniformity in how it is taught.  Of course professors will decide for themselves what to teach in their courses, but it seems appropriate to have some guidelines for those professors, in terms of a model curriculum including a syllabus and sample projects.


Many of us teach document engineering topics in courses devoted to that topic, or as modules in other courses in database, information retrieval, human factors, and so forth.  Variation in the topics covered in such courses is healthy and expected, but some of us would appreciate guidance as far as what others in the field consider important.

The audience for this workshop then is anybody concerned with how document engineering is or should be taught.  This would include newcomers to the field, who might not appreciate the variety of topics we study, and (dare we say) old-timers who have years of experience in our favorite topics.

Nor is the workshop intended solely for academics.  This is, of course, an engineering discipline, which means we are concerned with real systems that have to work in the real world, where budgets and schedules matter.  Furthermore, most of the students in our document engineering classes are more likely to find jobs in the document engineering industry than in academia.

Would-be attendees are invited to submit suggestions to the organizers in advance.  Such suggestions might include information from courses you’ve taught, papers you regard as foundational, links to software you’ve found helpful, and so forth.

Workshop Schedule

We envision a working session, rather than (for example) a series of presentations.  We therefore follow the format of a predecessor meeting that took place at DocEng 2007 in Winnipeg [1].  We should be able to conduct this workshop in a half day format, and still allow for small group discussions and a plenary session in which we brainstorm on key papers, ideas for projects, and so forth.

Workshop Product

The output of this workshop will (naturally) be a document that includes an overview paragraph typical for course syllabi, plus a list of topics that may or should be offered in a document engineering class.  Individual instructors will, of course, retain the right to choose exactly what they teach in their own courses.  Each topic will be accompanied by a list of resources that might be used by student or professor.  Such resources may include textbooks, journal and conference articles, but also where appropriate links to on-line videos, software downloads, blogs, wikis and so forth.

We also suggest the creation of a reading list for people who want to study document engineering at a more advanced level.  As far as we know, there is no list of papers that are widely regarded as seminal to our field.  The only list Nicholas knows of is now twenty years old, and even that dealt with papers that were of historical importance at that time! [2]

At the conclusion of the workshop, volunteers will be recruited to prepare a summary of the workshop and its output, in a format suitable for publication in the SIGWEB Newsletter or similar appropriate venue.


Munson, Ethan 2007. Document Engineering Education.   Working Session at Document Engineering 2007, Winnipeg.

Furuta, Richard 1992. Important Papers in the History of Document Preparation Systems. Electronic Publishing – Origination, Dissemination and Design, vol. 5, no. 1, March 1992, pp. 19-44.