Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management

Technical Research - Automotive, Engineering, Transport, Energy

What is technical research?

Technical research is about gathering valuable insights and intelligence from trusted sources to solve problems. For engineers, and those working on technical projects in the fields of transport, energy, climate change and automotive, finding insights from existing reports accelerates the process of problem-solving to help teams to optimise future products and services.

Research begins with questions, and before starting a technical research project, determine what you already know and what you want to learn. For example; if you are researching the future of autonomous driving, you will first need to understand current market statistics, regulations and technology developments through technical reports and news articles that are available on the subject.

Trusted information is sourced from many places including industry and market analysis, automotive engineering research, databases, technical reports, technical experts, conferences, professional magazines and industry bodies.

How best to conduct technical research?

Since the beginning of the internet, the growth in the amount of information available has been exponential. Technical experts work on a daily basis to seek information from the most trusted and relevant sources. While an internet search can quickly return billions of results, finding trusted intelligence you can use to make critical business decisions, can be a challenge.

Ricardo experts and those in technical fields regularly start research by finding information from secondary sources to help solve problems with a view to optimising future products and services.

Gathering information to solve problems - secondary research

Technical teams in the transport, engineering, automotive and energy sector are often tasked with knowledge gathering for innovation and problem-solving. Ricardo has decades of expertise in gathering information for technical projects covering multiple topics. Those topics may include life cycle assessment (LCA), transport decarbonisation, energy storage technology, engine after treatment, fuel cells, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), and more.

Our technical experts often start with secondary research to discover the latest findings in their specific subject area. The knowledge they gather will often include industry and market analysis, technical reports, conference papers, thought leadership presentations, whitepapers, professional magazine articles and data from industry bodies. Finding information that is credible and relevant is imperative; it must be gathered from trusted sources. Reviewing existing research is an essential part of the technical research process and can often be the best point to start. In the initial stage of a technical research study, it can help to clarify ideas, establish the theoretical roots of the study, and develop research methodology.

Exploratory Research

Exploratory research is usually conducted when a problem is not clearly defined and takes place before there is enough knowledge to make conceptual distinctions. Exploratory research often relies on secondary research, reviewing available literature or qualitative approaches such as informal discussions, case studies and interviews. RiCK can be used to gain useful information for exploratory research projects and can save time for technical teams. This type of research isn’t for making conclusions but to gather information on a topic.

Descriptive Research

Descriptive studies characterise what is, this type of research describes what exists in a current situation. So, a descriptive method of research is one in which data is collected, without changing the environment. Descriptive research can be either quantitative or qualitative.

Causal Research

Causal research is also called explanatory research, and it is the investigation into cause and effect relationships. It explains the effect of one variable on another. Causal research enables organisations to discover how actions now could affect the future

Focus your technical research and eliminate time-waste

You can reduce the time wasted by searching through irrelevant results with a focussed research study. The amount of time wasted in searching for the right information can cause a significant impact on resources. At the beginning of the project process, a team can spend almost all of their time finding the correct information. Applying clarity and focus to research problems can improve productivity and give better results.

The sources you can use include:

  • The internet - for example, Google Scholar.
    • It’s quick to access and contains reams of information, but it is sometimes difficult to establish the most relevant information and the true source.
  • Conference Papers
    • The papers presented at professional technical conferences can provide you with some of the most recent and relevant research in your subject area.
  • Journals, Citations, Publications & Technical papers
    • Compiling a list of technical reports and technical papers, whitepapers, publications and journals that will be relevant to your search is a beneficial process, but can be very time-consuming.
  • Reference Books
    • Material published in books is usually highly valuable, but information can be out of date.
  • Other technical experts
    • Gathering information from other experts in the area is always helpful.
  • Using a knowledge subscription database like RiCK™
    • RiCK™ helps provide technical research you can trust. It’s easy to use and can help users save time they might waste digging through irrelevant results.

Types of Technical Report

  • Technical background report - background report on a specific topic.
  • Feasibility Study - this report type advises whether a study is technically and practically possible. It studies a problem or opportunity and suggests a plan.
  • Primary research report - this report type presents the background to a problem, a summary of investigations, data, methodology, equipment, and conclusions.
  • Technical specifications - this report type may include details on product design in terms of construction, materials, functions, features and market potential.

A subscription to RiCK™

The RiCK™ database includes exclusive Ricardo technical papers and access to the highest quality technical research and content in the market in one place. There are over 300000 abstracted references from industry-leading sources available. Higher level subscriptions like RiCK 2.0™ also include the latest news, including content aggregated from over 80,000 news sources driven by artificial intelligence. It also houses a comprehensive list of conferences and conference papers, technology roadmaps and technical reports.

Trevor Downes, Chief Engineer, Product Leadership, Engines and Emissions Control, Ricardo, says,

“Using RiCK™ enables research literature reviews to be executed highly efficiently, using a single source and being confident that all key references will be recorded and summarised. Full documents are available for deeper review in a very short timeframe. This significantly compresses the time associated with this task, and pulls forward the return on research investment.”

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