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Work Domain Analysis Proposal


Design is always a choice. Cognitive Work Analysis [1,2] is an analytical framework to understand a system independent of users and designers. It is not a user centered design method, which is steered by independent studies or experimental results to incrementally guide development. Instead CWA identifies all possible functions of a system and can be utilized for systems that do not currently exist. Historically, CWA has been used for large scale system design [3], interface design and evaluation [2], and role based work displays [4], among other things. In the end, the CWA produces a series of documents describing a system.

CWA contains 5 phases of analysis, which may be conducted as needed and as scoped by the research question: work domain analysis, control task analysis, strategies analysis, social organization and cooperation analysis and worker competencies analysis. For the purpose of brevity, Work Domain Analysis will be the only section discussed in this wiki page. WDA relies on document analysis and SME reviews that result in an abstraction hierarchy and abstract decomposition space. The WDA organizes the purpose, priorities, values, general functions and physical aspects of systems into a coherent map. This also identifies the operating modes and work functions associated with the systems by asking how a system works and why it works that way. In the end, an artefact is created representing the rule based reasoning of the system planners.

The procedure for WDA is as follows:

  • establish the purpose of the analysis
  • identify project constraints to determine artefact fidelity
  • identify boundaries for the analysis
  • identify constraints in the work domain
  • identify sources of information for the analysis
  • construct an abstract decomposition space with those resources
  • address gaps in the ADS with special data collection exercises
  • gather SMEs to review the ADS
  • validate the final artefact.


Currently, the question in the research group is 'how do crowdwork market places differ in their governance models? How do these models limit stakeholder interactions?' To date, there has not been a comparative analysis of the governing structures of these platforms, which presents an opportunity to create a potentially valuable artefact for publication and conference. Using our knowledge of open governance structures, platform constitutions and participation agreements, related functional screenshots, and SMEs, I would propose that we use a comparative WDA method of CWA as base of comparison for platform governance models to identify the limits of different platforms to contribute to the crowdwork community.

Example Work Domain Analysis model.png


[1] Jenkins, D. P. (2009). Cognitive work analysis: coping with complexity. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. [2] Vicente, K. J. (1999). Cognitive work analysis: Toward safe, productive, and healthy computer-based work. CRC Press. [3]Bisantz, A. M., Roth, E., Brickman, B., Gosbee, L. L., Hettinger, L., & McKinney, J. (2003). Integrating cognitive analyses in a large-scale system design process. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 58(2), 177-206. [4]Ahlstrom, U. (2005). Work domain analysis for air traffic controller weather displays. Journal of safety research, 36(2), 159-169.