Evaluation of a prototype search and visualization system for exploring scientific communities.
Information Storage and Retrieval
Searches of bibliographic databases generate lists of articles but do little to reveal connections between authors, institutions, and grants. As a result, search results cannot be fully leveraged. To address this problem we developed Sciologer, a prototype search and visualization system. Sciologer presents the results of any PubMed query as an interactive network diagram of the above elements. We conducted a cognitive evaluation with six neuroscience and six obesity researchers. Researchers used the system effectively. They used geographic, color, and shape metaphors to describe community structure and made accurate inferences pertaining to a) collaboration among research groups; b) prominence of individual researchers; and c) differentiation of expertise. The tool confirmed certain beliefs, disconfirmed others, and extended their understanding of their own discipline. The majority indicated the system offered information of value beyond a traditional PubMed search and that they would use the tool if available.