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Team Fresh City

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This is the website for Team Fresh City, part of the HFID class in Fall 2009.

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Needs Analysis

Introduction
Information Gathering
Process
User Goals
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Concept Model
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Design Refinement

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Usability Testing

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Usability Testing
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Division of Labor

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01 Dec - 31 Dec 2009

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Needs Analysis: Information Gathering

28 09 09 - 04:37 The primary method of gathering information was user interviews, in this case the users were academic professors of all fields.  We interviewed professors from both Olin and Wellesley College, who studied topics such as biology, psychology, computer science, materials science, mathematics, and engineering education.  They ranged from just out of graduate school to tenured professors.  Before engaging in these interviews, our first step was to develop an interview protocol. The team identified the major steps in the research and paper writing process.  This main framework was then populated with more specific questions to guide the interviewees.  This protocol is below:
Paper Collaboration Interview Protocol
09.14.09

(side question to be asked at some point: How recently have you published?)

Block 1: Picking collaborators
-Tell me about your research.
-Who do you work with?  How did that come about?
-What types of things do you publish?  In what journals?
-Is the topic driven by collaborators or vice versa?  Is this commonplace?

Block 2: How do you research?
-What’s your process for doing research?  Can you tell me about –
    -Sources?
    -Data collection/organization?
    -Design protocol for experiments?
-What kind of timeline does this process have?

Block 3: Why do you write?
-When do you start writing?
-How do you plan that?
-Why do you write?
Block 4:    What’s the process?
-Walk me through the writing process.
-Where does it go for review?
-How do you decide where to submit a paper?
-How does that process work? (submission)

Block 5: Feelings
-What frustrates you?  What excites you? (about research/writing)


This protocol was directly followed for the first few interviews.  However, due to the length of the interviews and magnitude of information, the remainder of the interviews focused more on the processes of paper writing, blocks 3-5.  


Because we met with most of the professors in their offices, we had the opportunity to observe their work spaces and file management systems.  This direct observation gave us a clearer understanding of each individual’s system.


Summary of Findings


Most professors maintain several projects with collaborators from across universities to across the world.  This allows them to encompass different expertise, opinions, and resources.  Typically a collaborator is someone a professor has met, from a previous position, graduate school, a conference, or through networking.  It is very rare to cold call someone.  Either the professor will choose collaborators, and the group will come up with a topic, or a professor will think of a topic and find collaborators.  This initiating professor is usually the project lead.  To avoid future disagreements the team will discuss the division of labor, and authorship of the paper.


For the research portion of a project, the team divides experimentation protocols, usually based on expertise and experience.  The signal to start a paper usually occurs when a call for abstracts/papers is issued from a journal or conference.   At that point, the story and writing process of the paper is discussed between the researches.


There are two typical formats for writing the actual paper.  In one case the first-author drafts the entire paper and circulates it for revisions and comments.  This is often paired with a commenting system, or Word track-changes to document each individuals thoughts and edits.  In the second case, the paper is broken into sections and divvied up between the team.  One person is responsible for the combination and formatting of the paper as a whole.   The paper will later be circulated for comments and edits.  The technology used in most cases is email, occasional phone calls, Microsoft Word or LaTeX.  EndNote or BibTeX is used for source and citation management.  


There is always some general frustration with software bugs, which everyone works through and accepts.  The current software available is often messing, cluttered, and hard to use, especially for the editing processes.  Though there is a great appreciation for source and citation management.  Everyone agrees that face to face meetings and contact is the most efficient method of communication.  The seeming lack of time and contradicting schedules is always an obstacle for most professors.  One concern is with the backup of data and progress.  A common fear is losing files and work because of an unexpected computer glitch.