So, my last meeting helped me come up with a much firmer plan.

  • the usability testing I’ve been planning will probably happen, but not yet.
  • there may well be a pre-test testing round where we firm up our ideas more clearly
  • before this, let’s assess mental models of biological software / data models.
    • biological data models exist, e.g. the intermine data model.
    • advanced users probably have a mental model that is similar to the existing model
    • naive users won’t have this model at all, but they probably have some mental model that represents biological data. Some hypotheses (I think this is the right word!):
      • people with more computational knowledge are more likely to have a closer mental model
        • especially if they understand SQL, since queries are modelled after sql based queries. (Maybe this is a bad premise - am I assessing ability to query or just ability to match the models?)
      • Biological knowledge may help some aspects, e.g. a genes and proteins will always have a relationship.
      • Might the programming languages known or other biological software used affect the understanding of the model?
    • TASKS
      1. Map data from a familiar file format to the InterMine model.
        • familiarity with relevant file formats (GFF, FASTA) will probably affect this. Should all subjects know this data?
        • Familiarity with organism data may help or hinder; suggest we split this so some people work with familiar data and others do not.
      2. Query data from InterMine and retrieve correct results? (not sure if this is needed)
        • this will always be affected by UI - maybe pseudo-query is what is needed?