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How can ergonomics influence design? Moving from research findings to future systems

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Ergonomics design is about the creation of future work. So how can ergonomics research support and inform design if its findings are cast in a language oriented towards current work derived from field observations or laboratory settings? In this paper we assess instances of three different strands (experimental, ethnomethodological, and surveys) of ergonomics research on paper flight strips in air traffic control, for how they analytically confront future work and how they make the findings relevant or credible with respect to future work. How these justifications come about, or how valid (or well argued for) they are, is rarely considered in the ergonomics literature. All three strands appear to rely on rhetoric and argument as well as method and analysis, to justify findings in terms of their future applicability. Closing the gap between research results and future work is an important aim of the ergonomic enterprise. Better understanding of the processes necessary to bridge this gap may be critical for progress in ergonomics research and for the use of its findings in actual design processes.
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Keywords: Design; Epistemology; Ergonomics research; Ethnography; Technology transfer

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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