Developing a protocol for bioinformatics analysis: An integrated information behavior and task analysis approach



The purpose of this research is to capture, understand, and model the process used by bioinformatics analysts when facing a specific scientific problem. Integrating information behavior with task analysis, we interviewed 20 bioinformatics experts about the process they follow to conduct a typical bioinformatics analysis—a functional analysis of a gene, and then used a task analysis approach to model that process. We found that each expert followed a unique process in using bioinformatics resources, but had significant similarities with their peers. We synthesized these unique processes into a standard research protocol, from which we developed a procedural model that describes the process of conducting a functional analysis of a gene. The model protocol consists of a series of 16 individual steps, each of which specifies detail for the type of analysis, how and why it is conducted, the tools used, the data input and output, and the interpretation of the results. The linking of information behavior and task analysis research is a novel approach, as it provides a rich high-level view of information behavior while providing a detailed analysis at the task level. In this article we concentrate on the latter.