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Abstract

We analyze barriers to task-based information access in molecular medicine, focusing on research tasks, which provide task performance sessions of varying complexity. Molecular medicine is a relevant domain because it offers thousands of digital resources as the information environment. Data were collected through shadowing of real work tasks. Thirty work task sessions were analyzed and barriers in these identified. The barriers were classified by their character (conceptual, syntactic, and technological) and by their context of appearance (work task, system integration, or system). Also, work task sessions were grouped into three complexity classes and the frequency of barriers of varying types across task complexity levels were analyzed. Our findings indicate that although most of the barriers are on system level, there is a quantum of barriers in integration and work task contexts. These barriers might be overcome through attention to the integrated use of multiple systems at least for the most frequent uses. This can be done by means of standardization and harmonization of the data and by taking the requirements of the work tasks into account in system design and development, because information access is seldom an end itself, but rather serves to reach the goals of work tasks.