Talk:Root cause

Latest comment: 2 years ago by RoySmith in topic DAB?

Early discussion


Oh my gosh -- this might be the dumbest wikipedia article I have seen. If there is anything that does not need its own whole Wikipedia page, its the common phrase "root cause" -- you might as well make a Wikipedia page for every word in the dictionary that just talks about its etymology. Delete this stuff. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:59, 18 January 2018 (UTC)Reply

This article is a horrible mismash of nonsense - starting to fix it will require a complete rewrite... 05:11, 27 July 2006 (UTC)Reply

The previous version was so horrible, I just trashed it all and started fresh. I left in the "cleanup required" stuff for now. -- 17:03, 29 July 2006 (UTC)Reply

Just for reference, here is a link to the previous version that was replaced. Yuck. -- 04:56, 2 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Who decided to trash the whole old page without discussing an edit? This revision also looks like someones own ideas with no links to a basis document. Should it also be trashed and started over?

Bad idea:

Quote from article: "A root cause is a cause that is at a root of an effect."

Take the two words and then use them again to make a definition.

Why not just say that a root cause is the cause of a root?

Perhaps we could have some discussion about this page? -- 01:01, 1 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Sure. Have you seen the version that was replaced? "Horrible mishmash" doesn't even begin to describe it... it was incomplete, disjointed, opinionated, and a little spammy. I admit that the rewrite may have been a little hasty, and it may currently lack proper references, but it's a huge improvement. That's not just my opinion, either... I solicited reviews on the Community Portal, and the one review so far has been positive. As for the first sentence, I agree, it stinks. I had removed it for the very reason you cite, but someone put it back in. In regards to the content being "someone's own ideas", which parts in particular do you object to? There's nothing that's particularly controversial or off the wall. In particular, the concept of a root cause is explained without resorting to any proprietary definitions, which in my mind is a major plus because nobody can seem to agree on what the definition should be. The previous version, for instance, cited the TapRoot definition, which is particularly contentious because it includes factors sure to incite argument. -- 03:32, 1 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
I put that first line back in, but I'd be happy to have it replaced. The reason is that the first sentence of an article about a term always begins with a brief definition, rather than launching directly into a discussion about it. A better definition would be very welcome. — Saxifrage 06:24, 1 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
Okay, that makes sense. I was trying to build up to a definition, which I stated as "a root cause is an underlying condition that acts as a source from which effects originate." Not perfect, but perhaps a starting point. Any suggestions? -- 02:21, 2 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

How about this...

In classical logic, a cause produces and effect. Therefore, one potential definition of a root cause is the most basic cause of an effect.
This definition is the start of most debates and misunderstanding about root causes and root cause analysis. People tend to have their own answer as to what is "most basic" and there is little agreement between professional investigators and root cause consultants as to additional revisions to this definition that clarifies the misunderstanding or ends the debates.
You're 100% correct about the debates and misunderstandings... I've had tons of those. I'm not sure I really like the "most basic" cause definition, but I could probably live with it. Yes, I'm treading close to a debate with that statement. :) What this is telling me, though, is that there should probably be a section of the article that provides different definitions from major reference documents.
As Saxifrage said above, I think what we need is a single sentence definition to start off the article, and then some brief explanatory text. How about the following, combining the existing definition with yours and mine: "A root cause is a basic, underlying cause for an effect. Effects can have, and often do have, more than one root cause."
-- 01:58, 4 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
Combining the definitions removes several points.
First, it removed the reference to classic logic.
Second, it seems to say that there is one definition (rather than a potential definition).
Third, it adds in "underlying" - which is either redundant or has an "underlying" meaning.
Fourth, it adds in the idea about multiple root causes for a single effect. This should probably be introduced after the basic definition is provided.
-- 17:51, 7 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
First, is a reference to classic logic necessary when there is already a link to cause and effect in the article?
Second, people don't consult encyclopedias to find potential definitions. People want actual definitions, even if they're not perfect.
Third, "underlying" was added because "most basic" could be interpreted in many different ways, as in "simplest" or "most easily found" or "easiest to understand"... "underlying" is harder to misinterpret, and almost always means "beneath the surface". It reinforces the idea that the word "basic" is meant in the "base" sense.
Fourth, the idea of multiple root causes is introduced after the basic definition is provided; it's the next sentence. However, I'm not averse to introducing this concept later in the article.
The goal, I think, is to find a simply stated, broadly acceptable definition that can be provided in a single lead-in sentence. It doesn't need to be very precise or specific, but it does need to be accurate. It needs to provide a base from which all other definitions can be derived. I'm not claiming that the definition I proposed is perfect in this regard, but I do believe it's better than "most basic cause".
-- 05:23, 8 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
Since we seem to be parsing words, please look at the following definitions:
Note that basic is used in the definition of underlying.
Also, see the definition of "root":
Seems like you are trying to accomplish the impossible. In the article it says that there is no agreement on the definition, yet you are trying to create a definition that all other definitions can spring from. Thus it seems that there is a basic conflict that should be acknowledged up front. Perhaps the lack of agreement is the first thing that should be explained in the definition?
-- 16:14, 8 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Those are good references, but they kind of prove my point. Look at all the meanings for "basic", then look at all the meanings for "underlying"... which one is clearer and has fewer different interpretations?
As for the trying to accomplish the impossible, well, if we don't try, we sure won't get there. Anyway, I don't believe this is impossible. I think there's actually very little disagreement among practitioners about what a root cause is in general. The disagreements tend to start when people start building in practical factors and/or limitations. What we're looking for, though, is a general definition that can serve as a starting point.
By the way, the article doesn't say there's no agreement on the definition, it says there is little agreement about the types of things that can (or should) be considered root causes. It is an admission that differences exist in the practical application of the principle of root cause.
So what I'm saying, in general, is that I believe "basic" by itself is imprecise and open to interpretation due to its different possible meanings. There may be a better word than "underlying", but I haven't found it yet. However, "underlying" by itself doesn't seem sufficient. I believe "basic, underlying" is pretty close to the mark, though.
-- 22:24, 13 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

There's definitely a need for a solid definition as a foundation for this page and the additional clarification. While reading through peer-reviewed professional journals for related research, it's been clear that different disciplines that use the term have different meanings, so the likelihood of finding one definition that will suit everyone is slight. On the other hand, finding a 'lowest common denominator' that contains the basics in simple language should be possible. I've discussed it with a few colleagues, and one we think is a good start is:

A root cause is an initiating event that leads to the outcome or effect of interest. Commonly, root cause is used to describe the earliest event in the causal chain where an intervention could realistically have prevented the outcome.

One problem with this definition is that many people engaged in root cause analysis activities are influenced by the definitions and schema that originate with the consultants who sell analysis techniques - those definitions often exclude items below the point where intervention is possible, since their focus is (necessarily) only on events which can be altered. One discussion with a consultant had him telling me that "The root cause" (as if there's only one) of a fatality in a house destroyed by a hurricane was poor building codes. While it obviously couldn't be prevented, the uneven heating of the Earth caused the hurricane, which in turn was a cause of the destruction. --Prainog 01:13, 18 September 2006 (UTC)Reply

I can support this definition. It's clear and concise, and does a good job of describing both the basic concept and the common interpretation. As the person responsible for most of the currently existing version of this wikipedia entry, I say put it in. -- 04:29, 19 September 2006 (UTC)Reply
A root cause is seldom an initiating event. 16:20, 22 September 2006 (UTC)Reply

Concerning the edit at 00:36, 27 September 2006


A new starting definition for root cause has been provided. It is an amalgamation of a few different definitions proposed below. Some of the text has been revised to support new links to other wikipedia entries that expand upon fundamental concepts. Finally, some recently added text at the bottom of this article has been removed as it didn't fit in with the rest of the article; it attempted to describe one particular form of root cause analysis (relations diagram), promote it as the "best" such tool, and then make the claim that there is only one root cause for any given effect, which is not a universally supported theorem.

-- 00:50, 27 September 2006 (UTC)Reply

Page improvements?


This page continues to go from bad to worse and back to bad.

The new definition of "root cause" that emphasizes "earliest event in the causal chain where an intervention could realistically have prevented the outcome" is off base.

Being early in the causal chain does not make a cause a root cause.

Also, this whole page seems to focus on the "cause and effect" relationship. Yet cause and effect had been proven to be a weak method for root cause analysis. Socrates was the original proponent of "cause and effect" but 1700's philosopher David Hume provided a critique of cause and effect that should dissuade modern analysts from using this approach.

In my opinion this page need a complete rewrite with an emphasis on the divergent views of root cause - not a false "consesus definition" that is wrong and misleading. 21:07, 3 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

PS: I put this comment at the top because the last comment was put at the top...

So, you think the page has improved? ("Bad to worse and back to bad...")
I'm familiar with your arguments about cause and effect, and Socrates, and Hume. The Hume argument is interesting, because what he actually said is that what we typically call causation is just observed or expected correlation, and that we have no epistemological basis for saying one thing causes another. If that's the case, then "root cause analysis" goes out the window along with the whole idea of "root cause." However, there's been a lot of work done on the concept of causation since Socrates and Hume. Take a look at to see what I mean. There's still hope.
Let's take a system like TapRoot, which I believe you have some familiarity with. TapRoot is a system that includes a number of tools, a process for using them in an integrated fashion to investigate events or problems, and a method to determine root causes. The centrepiece of TapRoot is the Root Cause Tree, which includes a pre-built tree of causes in a variety of categories. What is the basis for this arrangement of concepts, and for referring to them as causes? How can you subscribe to Hume's concept of causation, and yet still refer to "No SPAC" as a cause of anything? Aren't all the supposed "causes" really just correlations?
You state that "cause and effect had been proven to be a weak method for root cause analysis." Proven by whom? In what peer-reviewed journal? Was there any dissent? Is the proof absolute? What alternative concepts have been proposed? If this assertion has been "proven", then why do ABS, Apollo, Decision Systems, Failsafe Network, NSRC, Reliability Center, and ThinkReliability all hold on to "cause and effect" as the basis for their systems?
The prevailing model of root cause is in fact based on cause and effect. Even TapRoot owes its existence to the concept of cause and effect, otherwise there would be no way to develop a cause tree, and no basis for calling all the items on that tree "causes". Thus, given the concept of cause and effect, defining "root cause" as "the earliest event in the causal chain" makes perfect sense. Another way to state it might be "the ultimate cause in the chain of cause and effect", but that's a little wordier and doesn't describe the concept any better.
Even TapRoot's definition of root cause -- the most basic cause (or causes) that can reasonably be identified that management has control to fix and, when fixed, will prevent (or significantly reduce the likelihood of) the problem's recurrence -- embeds the concept of cause and effect. Don't believe me? Let's restate it more simply: the most basic cause that when fixed will prevent the problem's recurrence. That, in a nutshell, is cause and effect... fix the cause, and the problem goes away. There's no escaping it. Trying to claim that TapRoot, and systems like it, are not ultimately based in cause and effect is just not going to fly.
In my opinion, this page has already had a complete rewrite that vastly improved upon what existed before. Yes, I'm biased, because I'm responsible for most of the rewrite. Still, I don't think anyone can honestly point to and say it's better than the version that exists now. If you, or anybody else, can do a complete rewrite that does a better job of explaining the concept of "root cause", without resorting to proprietary definitions or systems, please do it. As things stand now, I believe that the "wrong and misleading" consensus definition is a valid, workable starting point from which other definitions and/or concepts can be derived.
-- 21:51, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Reply
Perhaps the best course would be to find someone else's documented definition of "root cause" that you both can agree on and paraphrase that, with a citation. — Saxifrage 22:05, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Reply
I've done considerable looking and haven't been able to find any existing definitions that I think could be used without significant rework, which is why I had posted an attempt at a generic and encompassing definition. Since term has been in use in professional journals since at least 1912 and there's no easily found definition, it's pretty obvious that a definition is needed, and I don't think there really is any better way for one to be developed than right here. Wikipedia provides a forum where anyone with an informed opinion can offer their suggestions.
The flip side though is that we have a responsibility to be constructive in our discussions and actions if this is to be more than just a waste of time. While I firmly believe that the definition now posted is a major improvement over what was there before, I think it was posted prematurely, particularly since the definition in the article never appeared on the talk page in those words. Also, I agree that a significant rewrite is still necessary, but that a definition is also. You have every right to disagree with that, but if you choose to comment on the definition, a suggestion to fix what you believe is wrong is considerably less inflamitory than just complaining about it, especially if your complaint doesn't fully capture your concern. 24 stated that "Being early in the causal chain does not make a cause a root cause" and that's true, but the definition under discussion doesn't claim that early is sufficient, only necessary, so it's not clear what you disagreed with.
In the effort to keep things constructive and to have some progress, I'm currently working on some text for the article that I'll post here over the weekend doing a compare & contrast on the two viewpoints of single root cause vs. multiple root cause.
Prainog 01:32, 6 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

Good, glad you're going to address the single/multiple root cause issue. It's definitely something that should be included. Regarding the definition, I had been waiting over a month for someone to comment about a definition I had proposed when you posted yours. Maybe I was a little hasty, but after another week or so of waiting, I finally tired of the inaction and simply posted yours with a slight change in the first sentence. I would rather see improvements made to the article than waiting long periods of time in the hopes someone will comment on a proposed change. Additions can always be modified later. -- 05:47, 6 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

There's actually a forum for soliciting the attention of other editors in cases like this where the article would really benefit from more. It's Wikipedia:Requests for comment. Posting a notice there of the difficult issue at hand might increase the activity on this page significantly. — Saxifrage 16:04, 6 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

Single vs. multiple Root Causes


Here's the material I mentioned in my previous post. The material in the third paragraph of each section is weak, and my not be worth putting in the article. Opinions and suggestions are welcome. Also, since my opinion is that the first view is antiquated, I may have let my biases intrude in the text, so suggestions on that are requested.

I figured that a good place for it would be after the definition but before the remainder of the material in the article. Also, a good example to go with each of the views would probably be a good idea - possibly the same scenario viewed through both methods?

Please forgive the formatting, but I figured I could take some shortcuts on the discussion page that would be corrected when I or someone else posts changes in the article. The star after mentioning 1905 was where a footnote would go to reference an article in the medical journal _The_Lancet_ from November, 1905 titled "The Present State of Medical Practice in the Rhondda Valley"

--Prainog 19:39, 7 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

The term root cause has been used in professional journals as early as 1905* but the lack of a widely accepted definition after all this time indicates that there are significantly different interpretations of exactly what constitutes a root cause.

The two biggest differences in viewpoint regard the possibility of an outcome having more than one root cause.

The single cause philosophy is based on the belief that there is a single cause for any outcome which, if prevented, would prevent the outcome itself. In this context, the root cause is the cause which dominates over all other contributing factors.

This viewpoint results in the identification of a single root cause that provides a clear direction for preventing an undesired outcome. The subjective criteria used for selection of the root cause from among the contributing factors has been criticized as being arbitrary and inconsistent.

One basis for the argument supporting this as the ‘proper’ interpretation is the decomposition of the words in the phrase – the root cause is the cause at the root of the outcome. While there may be nuances in the meanings of the words, the common usage of the words lead to a straightforward and simple interpretation.

The multiple cause philosophy stems from the belief that a root cause can exist for each of the contributing factors that were necessary for a resulting outcome. By preventing any of those necessary causes, the undesired outcome can be presented.

The result of this philosophy is a branching model that attempts that incorporates all the identified ways that the outcome could be prevented. The inclusive model provides a variety of corrective actions that can potentially break the causal chain. This method also has a measure of subjectivity since judgment must be used in determining how far back to evaluate a causal chain.

Some proponents of this interpretation believe that it is the ‘proper’ one based on the common illustration of the model with the undesired outcome at the top and the causes spreading below like roots spreading from the trunk of a tree.

I believe the "single cause" section is okay as written, including the third paragraph. While I like the "multiple causes" section overall, I have two comments that you may want to consider.
First, in the "multiple causes" section, the last sentence of the second paragraph lists a source of subjectivity due to judgment in the stopping criteria. I believe this affects both the single and multiple cause viewpoints equally, so don't think this sentence belongs there. Instead, I would propose that it be removed and the following be added to the end of your first introductory paragraph: "One major source of ambiguity in the definition of root cause is that judgment must be applied to determine how far back a causal chain should be evaluated. This judgment is frequently a subjective choice of the person performing the evaluation."
Second, I think the last paragraph of the "multiple causes" section should mirror the last paragraph of the "single cause" section more closely. I would propose the following as a replacement: "One basis for the argument supporting this as the ‘proper’ interpretation is consideration for Necessary and sufficient logic in evaluating causal chains. A common illustration of this model shows the undesired outcome at the top of a tree with causes spreading below like roots."
In general, I like what you've proposed. However, I think that the "multiple causes" section would be strengthened if you address my comments above. Feel free to use/modify my suggested changes as you see fit.
-- 02:19, 10 October 2006 (UTC)Reply
I've added the sections for single and multiple causes. I didn't entirely agree with your suggestions, so I left the relevent text out until they're discussed here, but I think it still works without them in the short term.
1) Stopping criteria is indeed an issue in both views, so it doesn't belong in the multiple section. I think it would be most appropriate in the body of the article, not in the definition section at the top. Still, I'd really like to have something identifying the negatives of the multiple philosophy here so both views are fairly represented. I'm thinking something along the lines of The difficulties associated with the multiple-cause view are that significantly greater resources are required in understanding all the factors included in a multi-cause model and in selecting root causes from among all the causes identified. Any suggestions?
2) I made the last paragraph of the multiple section mirror the last paragraph of the single section, but I don't think that the issuse of necessity and sufficiency are appropriate in the context of that 3rd paragraph. My attempt there was to capture the relevence of the word 'root' as it's related to that viewpoint. I think necessary and sufficient are ideas that could be captured in paragraph 2 -- possibly between the first and second sentences, and should also be addressed separately for the single view. Again, my ignorance is showing, but how is the idea treated by those who hold the single-root-cause view?
--Prainog 10:45, 14 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

Remainder of Article


Now that the single/multiple sections have been added and are being improved, I think the rest of the article should be revisited. It's got plenty of items that are relevent, informative and well written, but I think the structure should be changed some. At the least, a separate section for the example would be good. Also, the discussion of continuous improvement and learning-organizations is something of a tangent and may be better suited to a section identified as uses-and-applications or practical-applications, or something like that.

I'll be working something up during the week, but just figured I'd identify where I was heading in case someone else wanted to do it first or didn't think it was a good idea.

Also, I'd like to go back to the definition too. The use of underlying doesn't really seem appropriate - it suggests that root causes are hidden and/or fundamental, and they're frequently neither. I don't have anything to replace it with right now, but I think there's still room to make it more neutral and generic.

--Prainog 10:45, 14 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

I've got no problem with you restructuring the existing text. As far as I'm concerned, you can go right ahead. One thing you said really surprised me though, in regards to the word underlying: " suggests that root causes are hidden and/or fundamental, and they're frequently neither." Until you said that, I was under the impression that I basically agreed with your concept of root cause. Now I'm not so sure.
Would you mind explaining why you think root causes are frequently not hidden and/or fundamental? In my experience (both research and application), I've found that while the former is not always true, the latter almost always is. I'm actually having trouble conceiving of a root cause that is not fundamental in some fashion.
What I know for sure is that I rarely find a root cause that is direct or obvious prior to starting an investigation. Yes, once all the evidence has been collected and analyzed, some root causes do appear to be obvious, but I've hardly ever seen such before this stage.
I'm now very puzzled. I am, however, looking forward to your answer. That this surprised me is perhaps a sign that I need to modify my thinking a bit, and I'd appreciate learning your view.
-- 02:09, 16 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

Wow - a lot of discussion in a short period of time. You two seem very involved in this page.

I would like to comment on part of the discussion that is far up the page:

The prevailing model of root cause is in fact based on cause and effect. Even TapRoot owes its existence to the concept of cause and effect, otherwise there would be no way to develop a cause tree, and no basis for calling all the items on that tree "causes". Thus, given the concept of cause and effect, defining "root cause" as "the earliest event in the causal chain" makes perfect sense. Another way to state it might be "the ultimate cause in the chain of cause and effect", but that's a little wordier and doesn't describe the concept any better.

I don't want to go into the discussion of TapRooT's basis (as this isn't a TapRooT discussion) or on the prevalence of cause and effect as a root cause model. But I would like to comment on the "the earliest event in the causal chain" comment.

I think an event and a "cause & effect" are two separate ideas. Events spring from "chain of events". A chain of events is a time based sequence of actions - not a chain of causation. Thus the earliest event would commonly be thought of as an ACTION that happened first in a time line leading to a consequence.

Cause & Effect - on the other hand - is based on a causal chain. This causal chain is not linked to time but is linked by an order of causation. This causal chain is linked to an ultimate EFFECT.

Thus the first event is a sequence of events and the primary or originating cause in a chain of cause & effect probably aren't the same.

Therefore, using "the earliest event" when discussing a causal chain may be confusing (thus may not "make perfect sense" to others).

Just a comment. 22:40, 17 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

Great feedback. I agree completely that the use of "event" in the definition is confusing, and after further thought, I think inappropriate. I think that using "link" or "node" would be much more accurate and would prevent confusion.
Also, you're right that event and cause & effect are separate ideas, but I'm confused by what you said about a causal chain not being linked to time. Order is obviously significant, but isn't order a function of time? Are you suggesting that using "earliest" is an issue in the definition?
I think the definition ought to be changed to "...describe the earliest link in the causal chain..." Thoughts?
--Prainog 00:41, 20 October 2006 (UTC)Reply


Time (earliness) probably has little to do with "rootiness".

Sequence in the causation chain probably does have to do with depth ... and therefore "rootiness".

But the arguments about "depth to go to" in a causation chain and the accuracy of the causation chain when using cause & effect is why there is so much disagreement about the definition to begin with.

Current Definition:

A root cause is an underlying cause that leads to an outcome or effect of interest. Commonly, root cause is used to describe the earliest event in the causal chain where an intervention could realistically have prevented the outcome.

Proposed Definition:

A root cause is an initiating, basic, underlying cause of a causal chain that leads to an outcome or effect of interest. Commonly, the term root cause is used to describe the depth in the causal chain where an intervention could change performance and prevent an undesireable outcome.

I'm not sure that I'm happy with even this definition as it seems rather "dense" - but I suppose that it is better than what has gone before.


I have now paid $60 searching for the reference mentioned in the second paragraph:

(1905). "The Present State of Medical Practice in the Rhondda Valley". The Lancet.

There are 7 articles with this title in the referenced journal that year. All aticles appear to be letters to the editor written by doctors concerned about competition in the medical profession. Neither of the two that I paid $30 to read mentioned root cause and neither seemed to be a scollarly article in a professional joural. Any blog posting today would seem to be the equivalent. So this reference seems to be misleading. Or am I missing something?

Either a better reference is needed (pages in the journal, publication date (not just year), or issue number, or a real reference to an early article about root cause.

I would guess that the argument about finding and defining root causes goes back to antiquity in several cultures. 16:02, 20 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

1) If I understand what you mean by 'rootiness' I think time would play a big factor - if there's two items in-line in a chain that could both arguably be the root cause, wouldn't the earlier (chronologically) be the better choice? If it's earlier and they're in-line, it's got to be a cause of the later (assuming that we neglect the more esoteric applications where people have concluded that the effect comes before the cause).
Be that as it may, I think you've made some improvements in the definition, though it IS still "dense". On the other hand, dense isn't bad if that's what it takes to get an accurate definition, it's a start and can be improved by additional discussion. The two comments I have on your proposed definition are that 'basic' and 'underlying' have already been considered and both have been pointed out as inaccurate. Also, in the second sentence, I think it's important to identify a practical limit - there are cases where an intervention would be possible to address a cause but it would not be considered a root cause because the intervention would be impractical. Taking that into account, my suggestion is:
A root cause is an initiating cause of a causal chain that leads to an outcome or effect of interest. Commonly, the term root cause is used to describe the depth in the causal chain where an intervention could reasonably be implemented to change performance and prevent an undesireable outcome.
2) Sorry to hear that you spent so much on what has questionable value. I sincerely apologize for not having the date and issue listed in the reference. FYI, it was Volume 170, November 18, 1905 and the term 'root cause' appears on page 1507 (details for this reference have been added to the article). I do, however, recommend against spending your money on it. The idea behind including that reference was to identify that a reputable source like The Lancet included the term in the single-cause context well before modern root cause analysis practiotioners were born.
As you pointed out, it's not in a scholarly article, but it is in the correspondence section of what Wikipedia identifies as " of the oldest and most respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world," so I don't think it's equivalent to "any blog posting today." The editors of such a journal would have screened correspondents to ensure they were professional and qualified. Of course, even if it WAS just the equivalent of a blog post, it would still be relevent as the oldest documented use of the term. I think any information that sheds light on exactly what people thought root causes were when the term was coined would be a great addition, so whatever you found to indicate there have been arguments in the past gould be a good addition particularly if you found something from another culture.
Finally, I doubt anyone was anticipating my attempt at the rest of the article, but I'm not working on it while we're still having meaningful discussion about a working definition.
--Prainog 03:04, 21 October 2006 (UTC)Reply

Creationsim as 'Undue' content


There have recently been a series of edits that alternately removed and added references to 'Creation' in one of the bottom paragraphs of the article.

"One view holds that, in theory, one would have to return to the Big Bang or point of Creation to find true root causes."

It was originally removed because it was a redlink and because the editor believed it failed the undue weight policy of Wikipedia. The next edit restored it with the broken link, which was then also reverted.

I've restored the text with a more appropriate link because in my opinion, the idea of creationism doesn't fail the undue weight test here because it is not a "tiny minority view", nor does this text "give undue weight to a significant-minority view". In fact, it simply mentions an alternate view that some would argue is the majority view in a way that seems appropriate.

Prainog (talk) 22:40, 29 August 2008 (UTC)Reply

Acknowledgement of author of quote used in definition of Root Cause


If I may point out that the opening paragraph " A root cause is an initiating cause in a casual chain, leading to an outcome or effect of interest" is a direct quote taken from Rooney and Vanden Heuvel, (2004) which should be correctly referenced on your page. (talk) 18:02, 13 May 2014 (UTC)Reply



It looks like this page has a long history of needing improvement and not getting it. If nobody objects, I'm going to turn this into a WP:DAB page for Root Cause (Person of Interest) and Root cause analysis. -- RoySmith (talk) 20:32, 18 March 2022 (UTC)Reply