January 15, 2016

Listen to the public defense of Jonatan Lundin’s licentiate thesis

The public defense of Jonatan Lundin’s licentiate thesis
Doctoral thesis and Licentiate seminars

Datum: 2016-01-29
Tid: 13.00
Plats: Mälardalen University, room Filen, Eskilstuna
The public defense of Jonatan Lundin’s licentiate thesis “Designing technical information – Challenges regarding service engineers’ information-seeking behaviour” will take place in room Filen at Mälardalen University in Eskilstuna.

The examining committee consists of Professor Jonas Löwgren, Linköping University, Senior lecturer Anna-Lena Carlsson, MDH and Professor Magnus Wiktorsson, MDH. The faculty examiner is Professor Jonas Löwgren.

Reserve: Professor Mats Jackson, MDH.

The licentate thesis has serial number 226.

Abstract

There is a gap of knowledge regarding relevant aspects of users’ information-seeking behaviours. 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.

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Carina Lekander

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