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Bolchini co-publishes paper on Web usability in bioinformatics research

January 12, 2009

Usability should be engineered into the development process of Web-based bioinformatics resources, particularly because databases and applications don’t grow in linear patterns, according to a team of researchers from the UK, the US, Switzerland and Italy. Davide Bolchini, assistant professor, Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, was lead author of the paper, published in the journal Bioinformatics.

Usability is a new field in bioinformatics and is a “very unexplored area so far,” Bolchini told Genomeweb, an online news source for integrated informatics, which re-printed the paper’s finding in its newsletter BioInform.

According to BioInform writer Vivien Marx, Bolchini and his team used "state of the art" usability evaluation methods to examine an online repository of proteins, noting that scientists often encounter "breakdowns" when browsing through different sub-systems of the repository that are updated at different times. The result often leads to obsolete content, according to the research team.

The study unfolded during Bolchini’s post-doctoral fellowship from 2007 to 2008 with University College London computer scientist Anthony Finkelstein and colleagues, who were “applying usability methodologies and usability inspection and other evaluation methods to improve the quality” of bioinformatics applications, according to Bolchini.

The full journal paper is available online here.

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