Researchers' needs for resource discovery and collaboration tools: A qualitative investigation of translational scientists

Suresh K. Bhavnani, Michael Warden, Kai Zheng, Mary Hill, Brian D. Athey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: A critical aspect of clinical and translational science (CTS) is interdisciplinary and collaborative research, which increasingly requires a wide range of computational and human resources. However, few studies have systematically analyzed such resource needs of CTS researchers. Objective: To improve our understanding of CTS researchers' needs for computational and human resources in order to build useful and useable supporting informatics tools. Methods: We conducted semistructured interviews of 30 CTS researchers from the University of Michigan, followed by qualitative analysis of the interview transcripts. Results: The analysis identified three recurring themes: the need for the federation of information, the need to address information overload, and the need to humanize computing, including strong and well-informed views about the use of social networking tools for research collaboration. These findings helped us to narrow down the available design choices for assisting CTS researchers, and helped to identify potential deficiencies of well-known theoretical frameworks used to guide our study, with suggestions for future remedies. Conclusions: The user needs identified through the study, along with concrete design suggestions, provided key design, methodological, and theoretical insights, which are being used to guide the design and development of a CTS resource portal. The results and interview instrument should be useful to other institutions with Clinical and Translational Science Awards that face similar challenges related to helping CTS researchers make more effective use of computational and human resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E75
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • CTSA
  • Clinical and Translational Science Awards
  • Collaborative computing
  • Resource discovery
  • Translational research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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