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The Methodology of Participatory Design

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Technical communicators have lately become interested in participatory design as a way to structure and guide their research and development efforts, particularly in online media. But attempts to use participatory design - in technical communication and elsewhere - have been hampered because participatory design has typically been seen as an orientation or field rather than a methodology with its own methods, techniques, and acceptable range of research designs. In this article, I work with a range of participatory design sources to describe it as a methodology useful for technical communicators. After providing the historical and methodological grounding for understanding participatory design as a methodology, I describe its research designs, methods, criteria, and limitations. Finally, I provide guidance for applying it to technical communication research.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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