Explicit and semi-tacit knowledge

By Gordon Rugg and Sue Gerrard

This is the second in a series of posts about explicit, semi-tacit and tacit knowledge.

It’s structured around a four way model of whether people do, don’t, can’t or won’t state the knowledge. If they do state it, it is explicit knowledge, and can be accessed via any method. If people don’t, can’t or won’t state the knowledge, then it is some form of semi-tacit or strictly tacit knowledge, which can only be accessed via a limited set of methods such as observation, laddering or think-aloud.

This is summed up in the image below.

The previous article in this series gave an overview. In the present article, we focus on do and don’t knowledge, i.e. explicit and semi-tacit knowledge.

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Think aloud technique: A brief introduction

By Gordon Rugg

This is one in a series of tutorials about reports. “Reports” in this sense involve respondents reporting what they’re doing or thinking, or what someone else is doing or thinking. We’ll post a separate overview of the different varieties of report.

The topic of this article is think-aloud technique, which involves getting the respondent to think aloud while performing a task.

This is particularly useful if you’re trying to find out what’s in the respondent’s mind while they’re doing a task, and for finding out about people’s reactions to a product or a behaviour that they witness. For instance, you can show people mockups of software or of a product you’re designing, and get at information which would be missed by interviews and questionnaires.

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Reports: A brief overview

By Gordon Rugg

This article is about a range of techniques which involve people reporting on actions, thoughts or rationale. It’s not about writing technical reports, etc.

These techniques evolved independently, rather than as a systematic toolbox. However, in practice they complement each other neatly. The table below shows how they fit together.

Time Technique(s) Main knowledge issues involved
Future Scenarios Knowing the unknowable
Present Think-aloud Short Term Memory/working memory
  • Critical Incident Technique
  • Hard Case Technique
Active and passive biases in human memory

This article describes how these techniques can be used systematically to identify and clarify clients’ requirements, with particular reference to legal and practical constraints.

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