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Use and value of technical reports. Katy Sidwell University of Leeds [email protected] Use and value of technical reports. Views from the literature use of reports factors determining use reason for use how reports are found value of reports MAGiC impact study

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Use and value of technical reports

Katy Sidwell

University of Leeds

[email protected]


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Use and value of technical reports

  • Views from the literature

    • use of reports

    • factors determining use

    • reason for use

    • how reports are found

    • value of reports

  • MAGiC impact study

    • methodology and results

MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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Use of technical reports

  • Evidence from surveys

    • 81% of 3,106 engineers had used reports in the previous year

      • AAES, 1986

  • 83% of 872 aerospace engineers used reports for a recent project

    • Anderson et al, 2001

  • MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Factors determining use

    • ‘Law of least effort’

      • Accessibility

      • Ease of use

    • Chakrabarti (1983)

      • accessibility - 12th

      • utility of information - 5th

      • frequency of use - 8th

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Aspects of use

    • King and Griffiths (1991)

      • 90% of reports read for specific work activities

      • average age of reports read is 2 years

      • 50% are 6 months or younger

      • used over a longer period than journals

      • recommendations by colleagues

        • library staff report bulletins

        • citations online searches

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Value of technical reports

    • $709 savings per reading

      • stopping unproductive work

      • avoidance of primary research

      • confirmation of current research

      • modifying research/engineering design

    • 1-2% readings accounted for most savings

    • relevant reports are very valuable

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    MAGiC impact study

    • Investigating

      • why engineers use technical reports

      • how reports are found and read

      • if reports are useful and relevant

      • comparison with other sources

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Methodology

    • Two locations

      • Cranfield University

      • dstl (defence science and technology laboratory)

    • Participants returning reports

      • 13 staff, 17 researchers, 11 masters (42%)

      • 29 engineers, 13 corporate, 3 government (95%)

    • Context of a particular report

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Results

    • How did you find out about the report?

      • 53% library catalogue

      • 17% recommendation

      • 16% citation

    • Recommendation

      • 86% dstl

    • Citation

      • 71% Cranfield

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Results

    • Why did you borrow the report?

      • 66% relevant to current work

      • 16% for the data

      • 94% subject matter was relevant to work

    • Which parts of the report did you read?

      • 40% fully read

      • 59% selectively read

        • abstract

        • results and conclusions

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Results

    • Did the contents of the report meet the need?

      • 51% fully

      • 41% partially

    • Was the report useful?

      • 85% to current work

      • 7% to future work

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Results

    • How did the report help you?

      • 48% gave new knowledge

      • 15% helped solve problem

      • 12% refreshed memory

      • 7% saved time

      • 6% substantiated hypothesis

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Results

    • Ranking the importance of sources

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Results - top sources graphically

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Results

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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    Conclusions

    • Reports are important to engineers’ work

    • Where reports are catalogued they will be found

    • The Internet is used and is popular

    • If only there were something combining all three...

    MAGiC - use and value of technical reports


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