Usability Testing With Citizens Ages 55+

As I referenced in my earlier post, I’ve been interested in working on usability testing with seniors on the Boston Public Library website.

Last summer I developed a questionnaire for seniors that asked them about their internet habits. We sent a link to this survey out though Age Strong in Boston, an organization dedicated to improving the life of Boston’s citizens 55 years or older. We used our social media accounts and a local church e-newsletter to promote the survey as well. We also included paper surveys at various library programs that were frequented by seniors, so that we could get respondents who may not feel comfortable taking a survey online.

In the survey we asked if people would be willing to participate in an in-person usability test session at our Central Library in Copley Square. Those who participated would get a $20 gift card. We got over 90 overall survey responses, and approximately 40 said they were interested in participating in the in-person session. Of those 40, we invited 16 to come in person.

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The Impact of Research Accessibility on Future Research, Part 2: The Effect of Open Access Articles on Research

This is a continuation from last month’s post Part 1: Researchers’ Information Seeking Behavior, so if you haven’t read that yet, I would suggest you read it first.

In the post, I explored the question, how much of future research is impacted by whether someone can quickly and cheaply gain access to other research? Last month’s post focused on how researchers’ information seeking behavior has an impact on the research they find, and therefore, future research. This month’s post explores how open access research has made an impact on emerging and future research.

Continue reading The Impact of Research Accessibility on Future Research, Part 2: The Effect of Open Access Articles on Research

The Impact of Research Accessibility on Future Research, Part 1: Researchers’ Information Seeking Behavior

I was recently visiting a friend who has recently started a Master’s and PhD program at a large U.S. university; while I was visiting him, he had to work on his research, as many graduate students have to do in their “spare” time. After doing some searching he determined that the nearest book available on the topic he wanted was in Ireland, and since he needed the information in the next couple of days, he decided not to request the book through interlibrary loan (ILL). This got me thinking, so much of what people do happens so quickly, that there isn’t much time to wait to get access to research. This made me wonder, how much of future research is impacted by whether someone can quickly and cheaply gain access to other research?

Taking the book from Ireland, for example, how much does the fact that the nearest copy of a publication is in another continent affect the future of someone’s research? If I’m working in a field that’s emerging, it stands to reason that there’s not an abundance of publications available on these topics. And if I can’t access a certain piece of information I want quickly or cheaply enough, I’m likely to forgo reading it, and rely on other sources that comply with my time and money constraints. If research builds upon other research, does the inaccessible research get lost?

It’s nearly impossible to design and carry out a study that could measure this definitively, because there are so many variables like the subscription resources offered from institution to institution, the availability of research from different disciplines, and the variability of how quickly a researcher needs the research they seek.

As I started looking into this question, I realized there are many components to this, so I focused on two areas, and I’m publishing this post in two parts. The first part, is about researchers’ information seeking behavior, and how their behavior towards research that is not quickly accessible may affect future research.

The next post will be about how open access and subscription articles affect the future of research.

Continue reading The Impact of Research Accessibility on Future Research, Part 1: Researchers’ Information Seeking Behavior