Skip to Main Content
A seemingly universal phenomenon-a `failure to communicate' among scientists and engineers in a large and highly sophisticated work environment-was investigated using unobtrusive research measures. Questionnaires completed by scientists and engineers as a part of their normal work to evaluate a major contractor's performance were examined as to the type of responses. A 7500-word narrative sample from 9 scientists and 14 engineers was selected and analyzed by comparing the number of sentences per response, words per sentence, and sentence fragments, and by categorizing and counting the words that each group used to express positive or negative value. The findings indicate that scientists use more sentences and more words per sentence than do engineers; the engineers use more sentence fragments; and the two groups do not, for the most part, use the same words in evaluating a common situation. However, the content similarity of the evaluations suggests that the actual differences between scientists and engineers may be overestimated and over-emphasized.