Research Remix

August 15, 2008

Participation statement for SIG USE 2008

Filed under: conferences — Tags: , — Heather Piwowar @ 10:52 am

The theme of SIG USE 8th Annual Research Symposium at ASIST 2008 is “Future Directions: Information Behavior in design & the making of relevant research.”

It will be held Saturday, October 25, 2008, from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the Hyatt Regency, Columbus, OH

The organizers of the symposium are asking (details) for a Participation Statement in advance… a one-pager that addresses the topic of “communicating the significance of information behavior research to designers of products, systems and services” through four provided questions. The statement is due today. I just finished my draft. I welcome comments on these thoughts, either before or after I submit it this afternoon :)

How does our research address the transformative relationship between people and information?

I study the sharing and reuse of scientific datasets. When scientists make their collected data openly available (often at personal cost in time and opportunity), they increase the information resources of the scientific community. Other scientists may then choose to examine, critique, aggregate, refine, and repurpose these datasets to achieve efficient scientific progress.

Understanding the behaviours of people and information in this complex system is crucial if we wish to develop and refine policies, tools, and practices for effective research.

What fundamental questions should we be looking at in our research?
  • What motivates scientific researchers to share data?
  • Are current incentives for voluntary data-sharing effective? How can they be improved?
  • Are current data-sharing mandates effective? How can they be improved?
  • Does the quality of shared data suffer when the act of sharing is mandated?
  • Sharing information transforms Research – does sharing information transform Researchers?
  • What motivates researchers to reuse scientific datasets? What obstacles do they encounter?
  • Does reusing data in fact lead to more efficient, focused research progress? With what caveats?
  • Are the costs of sharing data worth the benefits?
How are we to move towards making a greater impact on organizations and designers?

Three ingredients allow research to make a difference in the real world: we need to make our research relevant, actionable, and accessible.

Relevant: Choose research settings that are as concrete and realistic as possible. Don’t just survey: measure demonstrated behaviour. Don’t just mock-up: observe the users with their native applications. Don’t just invent clean tasks: study users doing the work they really do.

Actionable: Study issues where results can be directly translated into change. For example, focus on how funder and journal policies impact data sharing behaviour, rather than the correlation between data sharing behaviour and the number-of-paper-authors.

Accessible: Publish open access (OA journals, or self-archive on the web). Publish in the journals and conferences of the intended audience. Write without jargon. Organize tutorials, workshops, and bird-of-a-feather sessions at audience conferences. Send letters to journal editors. Volunteer for policy committees and design teams. Blog. Film a video. Share your data. Encourage others to do the same.

How can or should information behavior research be presented to translate effectively into the language of other information research communities?

As a new member of the information research community, I look forward to learning from the conversation!

Does sharing information transform Researchers?

Filed under: conferences — Tags: , , , , , — Heather Piwowar @ 10:35 am

As you can imagine, a few months and an untold number of conferences makes for a lot of blogging fodder. The posts requiring new thought will have to wait, since I’m in the middle of a pilot-project crunch. But to get the ball rolling….

The ASIS&T conference looks very relevant to my research interests of data sharing and reuse. The special interest group SIG USE focuses on Information Needs Seeking and Use… definitely something I should check out. Consequently, I decided to apply for their PhD Student Conference Travel Award. The application required a statement that addresses “an issue relating to the current year’s conference theme in relation to information behavior research (how people need, seek, manage, give, and use information in different contexts).” This year’s ASIS&T conference theme is People Transforming Information – Information Transforming People. My entry statement is below, in case it is of interest.

People Transforming Information – Information Transforming People

Sharing information transforms Research –
Does sharing information transform Researchers?

Research advances when investigators build upon the results of others. This is possible whenever research results are shared at a sufficient level of detail to allow others to understand, replicate, critique, and expand on analyses; leverage is greatest when raw research data can be explored. Unfortunately, although shared raw research data has many benefits for the general research community, as yet there are few demonstrated benefits for the original investigators who bear the costs of making their datasets available.

I wish to evaluate the transformative effect on researchers when they share their data. Do they, as one might guess, receive more citations because their published results have an expanded usefulness? Do they become more aware of other available datasets, and thus more likely to reuse shared data in the future? Do they become more likely to embrace other mechanisms, such as publishing through open access models, for making their research results widely available?

I am engaged in a long-term effort to identify instances of research data sharing and reuse. I plan to address the above questions, and others, by looking at publication patterns, covariates, and data-sharing behavior of various research communities. Through this work, I hope to quantify incentives for researchers to share their data, identify synergies between open access and open data, and highlight the need to evaluate policies and behaviors to realize the full potential of our research activities.

Travel award winners to be announced at the SIG USE symposium in October.

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