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Designing technical information: Challenges regarding service engineers’ information-seeking behaviour
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5611-9583
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There is a gap of knowledge regarding relevant aspects of users’ information-seekingbehaviours. The research presented in this thesis aims at gaining a deeper knowledge about such behaviours and discussing the consequences the behaviours may have on the design practice of technical communicators when designing technical information during product development. The information needs of users, and where they go to obtain information to satisfy these needs, are considered relevant aspects. The research presented in this thesis is limited to service engineers performing maintenance in a workshop. The objective is to try to frame the information needs service engineers give evidence of in a work task and map where they go to satisfy these needs. An ethnographic research approach were selected where empirical data was collected, analysed and interpreted from a theoretical viewpoint: a synthesis of Byström and Hansen’s Conceptual Framework for Tasks in Information Studies and Systemic-Structural Theory of Activity. Seven in-house aftermarket service engineers where observed by means of participant observation while performing maintenance work tasks on machine equipment taken out of service in a maintenance workshop in Sweden.The results reveal that these service engineers gave evidence of fifty (50) different information needs, that they actively searched and selected four (4) types of sources of information to satisfy these needs, but also that service engineers seldom seek instructions.

The consequence for technical communicators having the intention of designing to satisfy the cognitive information needs of individuals, is that it is a challenge to satisfy every information need. The information needs unique to any one individual and those depending on the work task context, as well as those that are specific to a work role in an organisation rather than to the machine equipment, are challenging to satisfy. This research indicates that the same type of information is used to satisfy different types of information needs. The information designed to satisfy a specific information need may thus be used to satisfy an entirely different need.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University , 2015.
Series
Mälardalen University Press Licentiate Theses, ISSN 1651-9256 ; 226
National Category
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-29943ISBN: 978-91-7485-250-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-29943DiVA: diva2:883122
Presentation
2016-01-29, Filen, Campus Eskilstuna, Eskilstuna, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-12-16 Created: 2015-12-16 Last updated: 2016-01-21Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Interaction with user documentation: A preliminary study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Interaction with user documentation: A preliminary study
2013 (English)In: ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, 2013, 2013, 41-46 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

An exploratory study was conducted into the interaction with documentation displayed by users of an unknown software tool. Five adult men were observed during their work with a software simulation of a fictitious machine for the production of liquorice. Their only source of information on the machine's functioning was its printed user manual. The log data from the observations was analyzed with a view to pinpointing interesting patterns of behaviour that deserve further, more formal, research.

Series
ACM International Conference Proceeding Series
Keyword
documentation behaviour, documentation design, documentation interaction, end-user documentation, manuals, user manuals
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-21611 (URN)10.1145/2503859.2503866 (DOI)2-s2.0-84883693965 (Scopus ID)9781450322997 (ISBN)
Conference
2013 International Conference on Information Systems and Design of Communication, ISDOC 2013, 11 July 2013 through 12 July 2013, Lisbon
Note

Sponsors: ACM/SIGDOC European Chapter (EuroSIGDOC)

Available from: 2013-09-20 Created: 2013-09-20 Last updated: 2016-02-25Bibliographically approved
2. Towards a normative conceptual framework for information-seeking studies in technical communication
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards a normative conceptual framework for information-seeking studies in technical communication
2014 (English)In: ISDOC '14: Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems and Design of Communication, 2014, 15-19 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The article proposes a conceptual framework supporting researchers in technical communication when using participant observation to collect data on users' information-seeking behaviors, such as what type of information users need in a work task context. The proposed framework is a synthesis, combining and integrating systemic-structural theory of activity and Byström and Hansen conceptual framework.

Series
ACM International Conference Proceeding Series 2014
Keyword
Information Search and Retrieval - Query formulation, search process, selection process.
National Category
Computer Engineering Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-25190 (URN)10.1145/2618168.2618171 (DOI)000380993900003 ()2-s2.0-84903644101 (Scopus ID)978-145032713-8 (ISBN)
Conference
International Conference on Information Systems and Design of Communication ISDOC2014, 16-17 May 2014, Lisboa, Portugal
Available from: 2014-06-05 Created: 2014-06-05 Last updated: 2016-10-31Bibliographically approved
3. An Investigation of Service Engineers’ Information-Seeking Behavior in a Maintenance Workshop
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An Investigation of Service Engineers’ Information-Seeking Behavior in a Maintenance Workshop
(English)In: IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, ISSN 0361-1434Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-29942 (URN)
Available from: 2015-12-16 Created: 2015-12-16 Last updated: 2015-12-17Bibliographically approved

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