Author

Nathan Bahr

Date

July 2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S.

Department

Dept. of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology

Institution

Oregon Health & Science University

Abstract

In this study, a software application was developed that permitted investigators to browse a visual network of researchers and MeSH terms to help identify partners for future research collaboration. The intent of this was to improve the rate of translational research by suggesting researchers whom the investigator would not have normally considered or find, but shared complementary interests, as indicated by publications or grants. The system was evaluated through use cases and surveys. The use cases guided the application's development by in that user needs were identified and then incorporated into the system. The main needs were to: have filters which showed only the most prominent suggestions; provide controls to see how a researchers coauthor and MeSH term connections changed over time; and to incorporate grants into the application's database. The surveys were used to measure the efficacy of the system versus using traditional means, prior knowledge or the Internet. Users would make a list of researchers using the Internet and then add to that list using the application. Then, experts graded the quality of those researchers on novelty, essentialness, and appropriateness. Two surveys were run and the application was able to find an additional 50% (8/15) and 110% (11/10) set of different researchers who were graded to be of similar quality to the researchers found using the Internet. In a follow up, the users were asked to evaluate using the Internet and the application for this task. In using the Internet, they found that it had a lot of noise and presented many irrelevant results that had to be investigate manually. In using the application, users found the ability to explore on related MeSH terms helpful as it expanded their search spaced in a focused manner. The application provided a means of identifying researchers beyond using current Internet search tools, because it provides a focused database for that task and a means of expanding the user's search space in a relative manner.

Identifier

doi:10.6083/M4319SWP

School

School of Medicine

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