The use of published fatigue test data as a basis for fatigue-limited design allows a compromise between design complexity and the uncertainties inherent in fatigue life prediction. However, published fatigue data exhibits variance in the associated documentation, and this may result in a limited applicability for fatigue-limited design applications. Characterization of the applicability of published fatigue data is critical for robust fatigue-limited design. However, no methods have been identified to formally quantify the applicability of published fatigue data. To overcome this impediment, a novel method has been developed to provide a systematic characterization of the applicability of published fatigue data based on internationally recognised standards. This method provides a mechanism to: inform engineers of the potential limitations of published fatigue test data; identify the applicability of published fatigue test data for specific design scenarios; identify data domains of insufficient applicability, thereby providing a robust basis for empirical test programs; and, define appropriate documentation for published fatigue data. A representative sample of published fatigue data associated with ferrous metals and light alloys were assessed. For the majority of the sampled references the associated documentation is insufficient to allow the fatigue test data to be confidently applied to subsequent design activity.

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