As Nick Shockey notes in his 2019 Open Access Week blog post, considering “open for whom?” institution transition to open knowledge sharing platforms is essential. Journals and repositories that support the dissemination of open access peer-reviewed articles or licensed or public datasets are often designed with academic users in mind. However users of these resources are varied and diverse, including researchers and research support staff, students, patients, and patient advocates. How can open access websites and repositories be designed and updated with a variety of users’ needs in mind?
Serving a variety of users’ needs was a primary motivator behind CTS-Personas, a project of the National Center for Data to Health (Grant U24TR002306). Through this project, conducted by librarians and informatics professionals from Northwestern University, Washington University, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Oregon Health & Science University, one dozen employee roles in clinical and translational science, as well as two patients, were profiled through a combination of literature review and interviews. The project resulted in fourteen one-page profiles outlining responsibilities, goals, motivators, pain points, and the software usage of roles including various types of researchers, research coordinators and administrators, data analysts, and support staff.
The goal of CTS-Personas was to provide a tool that those creating software, educational, or communications resources could use in academic health centers and clinical research organizations to make those tools more relevant and useful to a diverse array of stakeholders. With this tool in hand, use cases and implementations can be created to demonstrate how a clinical research coordinator, a data analyst, a patient, or any other of the fourteen roles would interact with a software tool, an educational resource, or even an idea or initiative.
At Northwestern’s Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center, we leveraged the Personas for our 2019 Open Access week programming. In addition to offering banners, buttons, and an open access quiz slideshow on the library’s LED screens, we created tabletop posters outlining the way that four of the Personas both support and benefit from open access.
While open access publishing and data cataloging practices may appear to offer much upfront challenges without assurance of the benefits, the Personas use cases help demonstrate in real and human terms the exact forms that such benefits may take. By using Personas to demonstrate the applications and benefits of open access, we are reminded of what diverse people in a variety of roles can gain from following the tenets and practices of open access. When considering “open for whom?”, Personas use cases can be a great place to start.
Blog post by Sara Gonzales