Our peer reviewed publications

Our peer reviewed publications about methods are mainly about elicitation, involving ways of gathering information from people. Most of these are about individual methods, with some being about ways of choosing and combining methods. Some of our key papers are listed below.


Card sorts: Finding out which features and issues are important to people

Gerrard, S. & Dickinson, J. (2005). Women’s working wardrobes: a study using card sorts. Expert Systems 22(3).

A classic paper, which among other things found found male participants sorted cards into two groups significantly more frequently than female participants did.

Upchurch, L., Rugg, G. & Kitchenham, B. (2001). Using Card Sorts to Elicit Web Page Quality Attributes. IEEE Software 18(4).

A demonstration of how to use card sorts to evaluate Web pages; based on Linda Upchurch’s MSc thesis.

Rugg, G. & McGeorge, P. (2005). The sorting techniques: a tutorial paper on card sorts, picture sorts and item sorts. Expert Systems 22(3).

A step by step tutorial to using card sorts, including analysis of the results.


Laddering: A method for eliciting goals, values, meanings, and more

Rugg, G., Eva, M., Mahmood, A., Rehman, N., Andrews, S. & Davies, S. (2002). Eliciting information about organisational culture via laddering. Information Systems Journal 12.

An example of how to gather knowledge about intangible abstract concepts rigorously and systematically. Four of the authors (Mahmood, Rehman, Andres & Davies) were students on taught courses.

Rugg, G. & McGeorge, P. (1995). Laddering. Expert Systems, 12(4).

A tutorial paper about laddering, which also goes into the underlying theory, and which unpacks the links between laddering and graph theory.


Combining methods systematically to elicit different knowledge types, and more

Maiden, N.A.M. & Rugg, G. (1996). ACRE: a framework for acquisition of requirements. Software Engineering Journal 11(3).

This is a comprehensive overview, and uses a faceted taxonomy to map different elicitation methods onto different knowledge types, and onto other criteria such as input and output formalisms. There’s more about this framework here.

Our publications about problems that we tackled involved often involve applying the same methods in widely varied fields. One common theme in our work is human error; another is applying methods and representations from one field to another field. The papers below illustrate both these themes.


Identifying errors in expert reasoning about difficult problems

Rugg, G. & Taylor, G. (2017). Hoaxing quantitative features of the Voynich Manuscript.
Cryptologia 41(3).

Gerrard, S. & Rugg, G. (2009). Sensory Impairments and Autism: A Re-Examination of Causal Modelling
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(10).

Rugg, G. (2004). An elegant hoax? A possible solution to the Voynich manuscript. Cryptologia, 28(1).

All three of these papers involved the same approach to identifying errors in reasoning.

Two involved the Voynich Manuscript, which is a book several centuries old whose text had never been deciphered, despite the sustained efforts of the world’s best codebreakers. Gordon showed that the code breakers had been mistaken in assuming that the manuscript’s textual features were too complex to have been hoaxed; he showed how a simple method could produce text with the same qualitative and quantitative features as those in the manuscript.

The other involved models of autism, where Sue showed how most of the literature on autism had under-estimated the importance of sensory impairments in autism.

All these papers were published in the top specialist journals of the relevant field, as a test of the quality of our work.


Education-related papers


Rugg, G., Rigby, C. & Taylor, G. (2018). Craft skills. International Journal of Information and Operations Management Education 6(3/4) pp. 290-304.

Rugg, G. & Gerrard, S. (2009). Choosing appropriate teaching and training techniques. International Journal of Information and Operations Management Education 3(1) pp. 1-11.

Rugg, G., D’Cruz, B., Foreman-Peck, L., Grimshaw, E., Guilford, S., Roberts, S. & Tonglet, M. (2008). Selection and use of elicitation techniques for education research. International Journal of Information and Operations Management Education 2(3) pp. 235-254.

The first of these papers is about our work on craft skills, which occur at the interface between knowledge about abstract concepts and knowledge about how to apply those abstract concepts in the physical world. We found that the nature and richness of craft skills had not been properly appreciated by most previous research, with far-reaching implications. The second paper provides a systematic framework for mapping between different knowledge types and different mechanisms for teaching and learning. The third paper looks at how using appropriate elicitation methods to investigate students’ mental models of a topic can help resolve misunderstandings and improve teaching and learning.


More peer-reviewed publications



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