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Trends and Transients 2015 » XML Summer School

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Trends and Transients 2015 » XML Summer School


You’ll dis­cover why it’s always import­ant to do user research, what meth­ods to use when, and how to avoid some of the poten­tial pit­falls (like recruit­ing the wrong par­ti­cipants, ask­ing the wrong types of ques­tions, or doing the research in the wrong phase of a pro­ject). We’ll also dis­cuss the chal­lenges of find­ing the time and resources to do the research in the first place, fram­ing it in order to chal­lenge your assump­tions, and finally mak­ing sure you can deliver value from it in ways that will most bene­fit your users.

In this ses­sion we’ll look at what user research is and the role it plays in fig­ur­ing out how to struc­ture suc­cess­ful content-rich web­sites. We’ll take a whistle-stop tour of a tool­box of user research tools and tech­niques, and how to mix and match the meth­ods to get the best res­ults. For example, dur­ing a typ­ical IA pro­ject you’d aim to bal­ance the insights gained from search log and usage data ana­lysis with more qual­it­at­ive tech­niques such as inter­views (to learn about people’s inform­a­tion needs), card sorts (to get a sense of how people group and label con­tent) and tree tests (to find out how people look for con­tent). We’ll also briefly cover per­so­nas, sur­veys, con­tex­tual inquiry, usab­il­ity test­ing, A/B test­ing, and diary stud­ies. We’ll use examples to show how a bet­ter under­stand­ing of your users can help you to sup­port them in find­ing what they need.

How can you be con­fid­ent that you’re organ­ising and labelling your con­tent in ways that best meet the needs of the people using it? What appears logical in the data may not turn out to reflect the way your users see the world. It’s tempt­ing to make assump­tions about your users based on your own exper­i­ences, but it’s far bet­ter to find out dir­ectly from the users them­selves. For effect­ive inform­a­tion archi­tec­ture (IA), user research is cru­cial for devel­op­ing know­ledge about users’ inform­a­tion seek­ing beha­viours, the trig­ger words they’re look­ing for, and how they under­stand the sub­ject domain.

Health­care data is some of the most com­plex of any domain. The applic­a­tion mar­ket is highly frag­men­ted and data is often siloed. Stand­ard­ised mod­els for the exchange of data have had some not­able suc­cesses, though these can still be highly com­plex. The talk cov­ers the evol­u­tion of XML based health­care mes­sage stand­ards, from simple replace­ments of line-oriented mes­sages (HL7 V2 XML) to large fully-structured XML doc­u­ments, such as the wide­spread CDA and CCD stand­ards, and HL7 V3 that they are derived from. The new­est devel­op­ment — FHIR — goes back to more gran­u­lar REST­ful XML inter­faces. The decisions and trade-offs are explained as well as what worked, what did not, and why.

Sci­entific pub­lish­ing has been a going con­cern since the 1660’s, and yet since then the prac­tice of pub­lish­ing has changed remark­ably little, both in terms of the busi­ness mod­els (sub­scrip­tion pub­lish­ing) and core formats of dis­course (static doc­u­ments, ini­tially in paper, now in PDF).

This course will look at some of the key changes that are hap­pen­ing in the industry from both busi­ness and tech­no­lo­gical per­spect­ives. We will then look at a worked example by step­ping through the work­flows in oper­a­tion inside of a new open access pub­lisher — eLife.

An under­stand­ing of the his­tory of Open Access, how it has been adop­ted across the board, what it’s cur­rent status is, and what the pos­sible future is for open access.

My thesis on open access is that it’s main effect on the pub­lish­ing industry will be to move the industry form a con­tent busi­ness to a ser­vice busi­ness, and I will argue that this will be a good thing for all stake­hold­ers in research communication.

From the busi­ness point of view we will look at the rise of open access, dis­cuss the dif­fer­ent fla­vors of open access, and dis­cuss the how cre­at­ive com­mons licenses can sup­port the goals of open access. We will look at how com­mer­cial and non com­mer­ical pub­lish­ers have adop­ted open access. We will look at grow­ing num­ber of gov­ern­ment and fun­der open access man­dates, and ask whether this means that open access is a lock-in as the only viable pub­lish­ing model in the future.

STM is an inter­est­ing sec­tor for hav­ing made it to the web early. This early suc­cess has some down­sides in that many of the sys­tems in oper­a­tion are now start­ing to show their age. A new gen­er­a­tion of tech­no­lo­gies is emer­ging and how STM pub­lish­ing adapts to take advant­age of these will be a very inter­est­ing ques­tion that will evolve over the next few years.

I hope to explain through example, how we use XML in eLife, not only for con­tent, but also for much of the metadata pro­cessing asso­ci­ated with our internal work­flows, and com­mu­nic­a­tion with ser­vices out­side of eLife, such as Cross­Ref and Pub Med Central.

Though XML is core to what we do, a new wave of power­ful applic­a­tions are emer­ging lever­aging the power of the mod­ern browser. This has led some people to con­sdier a move away from XML as the cent­ral format for record for STM con­tent, in favour of HTML5 and JSON.

Although at an early stage, I think it rep­res­ents an import­ant poten­tial trend, and I’ll give an over­view of some of these tools, and dis­cuss poten­tial advant­ages and dis­ad­vant­ages of head­ing down this path.

Some of these tools include the following:

With any time remain­ing, we will ground the top­ics dis­cussed in the course by show­ing how they have affected the shape of all of the things that we do in eLife, from our licens­ing policy, through to our pro­duc­tion work­flows and tools that we make avail­able on the front end of our website.


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Xmlsummerschool staff, “Trends and Transients 2015 » XML Summer School,” Continuing Education on New Data Standards & Technologies, accessed April 17, 2021,