Recruiting for User Tests, Plans for Upcoming Weeks

Week 4

July 2, 2012: Recruiting for user tests, finalizing user test/survey, marketing continues, plans for upcoming weeks

Summary of the Post:
– Brief anecdote
– Recruitment Update/Plan
– User testing Update/Plan
– Marketing Update
– Upcoming Weeks and Phone Call

Happy July Everyone! While I’m sure all of you are excited about the mid-week break coming up, as I am away from our fine country, I will not be celebrating the 4th of July, so I will take the opportunity to getting some more work in. But, there is a grand tradition of grilling here in Austria as well, so I plan to get my grill on at some point this week–if not on Wednesday!  Its also been a scorching 40 degrees Celsius (about 95-100 Fahrenheit), so Saturday was spent swimming in the freezing and refreshing Danube river and reading about constructing surveys in the shade alongside a cold Raddler (Austria’s favorite summer drink–beer mixed with lemonade–its delicious I promise!!)

Well Monday signifies a return to work in both America and Austria–so here I am!

Recruitment Update/Plan:

The list of DMPo Contacts that Carly gave me last week has been working wonders!  I am starting to get a lot of responses from librarians either informing me that my email has been forwarded to researchers, that my letter has been forwarded to someone else who has more contact with Earth science researchers, or a response with the email addresses of researchers whom I am able to contact.  So far University of Texas–Austin has been the winner in terms of the number of actual  emails out to recruitees, with the help of librarian Amy Rushing who provided me with links and names of researchers working in the Bureau of Economic Geology/Geological sciences at U. of Texas. My goal for the recruitment letters is to send out about 30-40 letters with the hopes of recruiting 8-10 researchers willing to participate in the tests.  My goal for this week is to finish sending out all of these letters and to start the actual user tests next week.

Additionally, one librarian from Columbia University informed me that the earth scientists working there actually have their own data management planning tool and thus do not use our tool–which I found to be interesting and will follow up with that in order to do some comparisons between that tool and our tool.  Perhaps, its more narrow focus for the Earth sciences specifically makes it more useful in some ways?  A good avenue of investigation, at any rate!

User Test Update/Plan:

In order to start the actual tests next week, I need to finalize the test this week.  This will be my main focus this week and should be the topic of our phone conversation this week (time/date T.B.D.) I have not yet heard back from Laura Miller about a good time to talk to her, but I just sent a follow up email, and if she is available, we will talk today (Monday) if possible. The following ideas about the user tests are thus, sans input from Laura Miller.  If I do get a chance to talk to her within the next few days I will of course update my ideas …. and hopefully by the end of the week, we will have a user test that everyone is happy with.

At this juncture I think that the user test should involve the following:
1). Each user performs a task using the DMPtool (10-15 min)–  filling out a certain section.  I think the section should be the metadata section because this section seems like it will pose the most difficult problems.  Though I am open to suggestions. The directions will explain how to log into the tool and create a TEST plan.  Then the user can skip the first couple pages, which are more straightforward and go to the metadata section.  Should they actually fill out the section?  Or just read through it?? This is probably the aspect of the test that I need the most help with.
2). After the task the user will fill out a survey to be created using SurveyMonkey (5-10min).  The survey will ask about the specific task, but also about getting to the plan, the layout of the tool, and some more general questions that can be answered after the navigation through the tool.  Besides the content improvement, the task performed should also serve as a way to get the user navigating through the tool.
3). Lastly (5 min)–the user should be given an opportunity to provide any free-text comments and feedback that they may have.

As these tests are conducted they will be analyzed and evaluated. The final analysis will be conducted after all of the tests are completed in order to make any and all conclusions that I can draw from the data I collect over the next couple of weeks.  Since my goal is to collect 8-10 total tests, the goal is to do 2-3 tests per week starting next week, week 5 and continuing through week 7 (or July 9-27).  Week 8 can be used to conduct tests only if need be.

Marketing Update:

In addition to the user tests, the marketing aspect of the project will continue concurrently.  Today I followed up with OBFS to see if the email I drafted for them was in fact sent out on their list-serv and also provided them with the requisite forms/papers provided by Perry (thanks) if they are interested in becoming a contributing partner to the DMPtool.

I also heard back from Karen Baker of LTER.  She provided me with some valuable commentary, which came from the co-chair of LTERs Information Management Committee:
1).  The DMPtool is useful for outlining requirements of the different directorates
2) It is a bit too generic–in the sense that the proposer is still required to understand data management tasks
3). Suggests that I should start a public discussion forum to engage with issues related to constructing data management plans

My thoughts on these comments:
1). I am assuming she is referring to the list of requirements from the different funding groups and subgroups.  It is valuable to hear that the information about the requirements is important to those within the community.  Though I haven’t focused much of my attention on this aspect of the tool, should we consider thinking more about how to improve and expand upon it?
2). I have also pointed this out in my evaluations… esp when it comes to metadata–> this is important to continue working on….
3) Though her suggesting to continue working on the above (making ti less generic) is to start a forum, I am not sure this is the right direction.  As was the case with the Twitter feed suggestion, I am only here for a short amount of time, and this forum, if it were started, would not really get a chance to gain momentum and value to the community.  Are there other suggestions about getting mroe information to researchers about the ‘data management tasks’ that the LTER community identified as being difficult for researchers?  Perhaps a ‘Glossary’ of information identifying different terms that are found in the DMPtool that may be confusing?  Thoughts?

Upcoming Weeks and PHONE CALL:

By now you all have a fairly good idea of how I want to construct the next few weeks of the internship.  After finishing the user tests at the end of week 7 (hopefully), I will do my last analysis of the data and create my final report/conclusions for the improved content.  Along with the tests, my evaluations throughout the internship (that I have been posting here) will also be taken into account.  My final evaluations of my marketing efforts will also be developed for reporting during week 10 as well.  I hope to get all of my final evaluations done week 8, which gives me 2 weeks of filling in gaps, asking new questions to be followed up on, etc.

PHONE CALL THIS WEEK!  Since its July 4th on Wednesday–can everyone do a phone/skype conversation on Tuesday 7/3?? Once again, I feel more comfortable doing the conversation earlier in the week, rather than later, and since Wednesday is out, I think Tuesday works much better than Thursday because I want to be putting the final touches on my user test and survey on Thursday/Friday so I can start the tests next week…this is of course…. dependent on my recruitment!!!

Thanks all,




One Reply to “Recruiting for User Tests, Plans for Upcoming Weeks”

  1. Hi Rachel,

    Swimming in the Danube sounds great! It’s been blazing here lately, too, with some very bad storms this past weekend that have left many in the mid Atlantic without power for several days.

    Comments to each section:

    -the Columbia situation: it would be good for you to look at their tool ( and do some comparisons, to figure out the value that is being offered in that tool versus the DMPTool. The Columbia Libraries do point to the DMP templates that underlay the DMPTool, but not the DMPTool itself. As Columbia’s IEDA group is focused on earth sciences, they may already have identified the secret ingredients, so there may be much to learn there for the DMPTool.

    -User Test Update/Plan: I’ll check with Laura for you. The general test idea sounds right, but please do send us the specific protocol prior to testing so that we can review and provide any needed feedback. As we only have capability to work on content development right now, please focus most of the efforts on that. We’ll have a chance to do more functionality work in the future, but just don’t have resources for it right now. Have you contacted anyone at WHOI or the Smithsonian yet? If not, let me know and I can put you in touch with a few people there, which may lead to some more good testers. We could also put it out to some of our friends at field stations, which would be a different context.

    -Marketing Update: Very good to hear that you are in discussion with Karen Baker from LTER. For your comments, 1) yes, look at specific opportunities for refinement of requirement explanations as relevant to the earth science communities. I believe that some of the programs have been starting to make their own specifications, so we’ll need to incorporate that into the DMPTool as it happens. If you can help us flag some, that’d be great. 2) Yes, very important, and you could either work on developing some deeper content, or identifying appropriate training tools to refer user to (and testing whether that referral model is helpful). 3) I actually like the forum/discussion space idea, but also agree that you wouldn’t be able to make it really work during your time. As part of your final deliverable, however, you could include recommendations and an outline for how to develop and build a forum that would complement DMPTool content for the earth science community. How might it interact? Perhaps also dig a bit deeper into this discussion with Karen or others to see if there are more ideas there; maybe part of your testing plan.

    -Upcoming weeks: GOOD!

    -Phone Call: GOOD! Just sent you times that work for me on Tuesday.


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