It is said, though not yet assessed, that a large amount of potentially valuable information may reside in engineering email correspondence. If this is the case, then due consideration must be given to the role of email for record keeping, Product Lifecycle Management and knowledge management. In order to examine this hypothesis, a methodology for assessing the information content of emails, and in particular those associated with engineering projects, has been created. The method is based on a textual analysis approach that is derived from cognitive design research and social psychology and further developed through iterative applications to industrial datasets. The paper describes the development of the approach and its classifications of what the subject of the email is, why the email has been sent, and how its content is expressed. The approach is validated using an email corpus from a software design project. The method is then applied to characterize the content of 800 emails from a large systems engineering project. The key findings from this major study are then presented and discussed with respect to the character of the content, including evidence of engineering work, the project lifecycle, and implications for information and knowledge management.
- Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
Engineering Work and Email: An Analysis of the Information Content of Email in a Major Systems Engineering Project
Wasiak, J, Hicks, B, Dong, A, & Newnes, L. "Engineering Work and Email: An Analysis of the Information Content of Email in a Major Systems Engineering Project." Proceedings of the ASME 2009 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference. Volume 8: 14th Design for Manufacturing and the Life Cycle Conference; 6th Symposium on International Design and Design Education; 21st International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology, Parts A and B. San Diego, California, USA. August 30–September 2, 2009. pp. 915-925. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/DETC2009-86832
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