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Methodology of the study

The study was carried out through a series of loosely structured interviews of a cross section of the personnel of the SdT, including all levels of the hierarchy. The interviews took place between October 1994 and the end of March 1995. A complete list of those who contributed to the study is contained in the appendix.

Before going any further, I would like to record my gratitude to all those who gave so generously of their time: their openness, enthusiasm and willingness to co-operate left me greatly impressed. The organisation of interviews was co-ordinated by Roger Bennett in Brussels and by Carlo Mergen in Luxembourg. They also, with Dimitri Theologitis, provided extensive feedback on the first versions of this report. I owe them a considerable debt. Lastly, I should like to thank those others who read the earlier drafts of this report and provided comment, especially my colleagues in the EAGLES Evaluation Group and in ISSCO, and Roger Havenith, Santiago Del Pino and Jackie Reizer of the SdT. I am of course solely responsible for any mistakes or misrepresentations.

It was agreed with SdT at the beginning of the study not to use a tightly structured questionnaire, on the grounds that, since what was aimed at was a descriptive study of SdT in general, a too focused approach risked biasing the study by pre-judging the topics of interest. Thus, the main aim of the interviews was to listen to what those being interviewed wanted to bring up, rather than to obtain precise answers to pre-determined questions. The interviews were recorded, resulting in about fifty hours of material. However, in order to be able to produce at least a semblance of order from such a mass of material, a set of very general non-directive questions underlay the interview structure.

Each participant was asked to describe his or her own job, and the work-flow, identifying any bottle-necks or major difficulties they experienced. They were asked what use they made of aids to their work, including conventional resource material and resource services or persons, as well as computerized aids. They were also asked if there were any tools which they knew to be available and which they did not use. Before the interviews, a list of tools which were of potential interest had been prepared, and the interviewer tried to introduce these into the conversation when it seemed appropriate. Finally, participants were asked to day-dream: to suggest one or more aids that they would like to be given in an ideal world where technological feasibility, economic constraints and practical or political considerations held no sway.

In practice, it often proved unnecessary to ask all of these questions explicitly: either the conversation tended of its own accord to cover the ground that had been foreseen or a very slight nudge could make it do so.

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