A diary study of information needs and document usage in the engineering domain

P J Wild, Christopher McMahon, Mansur J Darlington, S Liu, Stephen Culley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)


Engineering design, despite its technical mechanical and mathematical foundations, is heavily informational. Many authors have used information as the focus of their research; in contrast, our study examined both information needs and document usage by engineers. After reviewing the design decisions behind the diary study; we report on the analysis of the data. We also used the data to generate new ‘document use’ scenarios, and ‘proof of concept’ test of a related software system. As with all research methods, diary studies have a number of strengths and weaknesses so we also provide some reflections on the use of diary studies as a method for examining the engineer's use of documents in the engineering domain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-73
Number of pages28
JournalDesign Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010



  • research methods
  • information design
  • engineering design
  • design studies

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