Input from Subject-Matter Experts
Subject-matter or domain experts are an important source of information and input. They may participate in data collection activities such as interviews or walkthroughs, where they act as the primary data source. Experts can also provide input into the validation of analyses conducted by researchers, for example, checking and refining the HTA models derived from other data collection methods. It is important to identify relevant subject-matter experts for the domain of interest. To align with systems thinking principles, these experts should also be drawn from different levels of the system. They may include expert users or workers, managers, policy makers, system developers and technicians (Naikar 2013). Gathering subject-matter experts together to enable debate and discussion can be a valuable activity to understand where potential conflicts or areas of complexity might exist (Flach et al. 1998). This could be achieved via a group interview or focus group session.
However, it is acknowledged that domain experts can be difficult to access (Potter et al. 1998), so approaching them for input may require some planning as to how much input is required and when it may be most valuable. Potentially, efficiencies can be gained by applying techniques such as documentation review and observation,
BOX 2.7 SUBJECT-MATTER EXPERT INPUT FOR UNDERSTANDING THE RAIL LEVEL CROSSING SYSTEM
In developing our CWA outputs, we gained input from a small amount of subject-matter experts initially, using semi-structured interviews, and later used a focus group with 11 domain experts to validate the Work Domain Analysis model (see Chapter 5).
and generating initial analyses, followed by engagement with subject-matter experts for validation of the analysis.