I did four more interviews on Friday the 20th in Oxford. Recruitment was a little harder than it has been, probably because I didn’t go to a dedicated biology institute like I had the last two times. Still, it was incredibly interesting! I had a very varied bunch, from pure wetlab to someone who probably had less bio than me. Some of the things I noticed:

  • Wetlab person: no data schema or relationships between data almost at all. Just a set of piles with titles. Will others be like this, or was it specific to this person? I feel like it might be personality, but I can’t be sure.
  • Computer person: even when they didn’t necessarily understand the data or the cards, they could still make educated guess based on identifier format (e.g. the mix of letters and numbers in a file or card). Suggestion: Always provide an example identifier in column mapping tasks.
  • Sometimes people focus on the data in the cards, when they’re doing the card-sorting task (this is probably a code I need to be using - “seeking meaning of data” maybe). It’s not everyone, but it is a noticable chunk. I was first inclined to ignore this as a mistake people are making, but now I’m thinking of it more there are implications when transferring to the real world - it seems possible that people may make the same mistake during, say, column mapping exercises in a UI, and look for “cancer” when asked to map BRCA1 to a column, rather than looking for “gene identifier”.