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The research-practice relationship in ergonomics and human factors - surveying and bridging the gap

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Significant discord has been aired regarding the widening research-practice gap in several disciplines (e.g. psychology, healthcare), especially with reference to research published in academic journals. The research-practice gap has profound and wide-ranging implications for the adequacy of ergonomics and human factors (E/HF) research and the implementation of research findings into practice. However, no substantive research on this issue has been identified in E/HF. Using an online questionnaire, practitioners were asked about their application of scientific research findings published in peer-reviewed journals and to suggest ways to improve research application in practice. A total of 587 usable responses were collected, spanning 46 countries. This article describes some of the key differences and correlations concerning reading, usefulness and barriers to application among respondents, who varied in terms of organisational type, percentage of work time devoted to application vs. research, society membership and experience. Various solutions proposed by the survey respondents on ways to bridge the research-practice gap are discussed. Statement of Relevance: The relationship between research and practice in E/HF has long been a subject of discussion, with commentators pointing to tension and possible implications for the adequacy of the discipline. Findings from a cross-sectional survey provide ergonomics practitioners' views on research, leading to discussion of strategies for achieving better integration.
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Keywords: ergonomics; ergonomists; human factors; research-practice gap

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Aviation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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