Identifier

etd-08032011-165733

Degree

Master of Natural Sciences (MNS)

Department

Plant, Environmental Management and Soil Sciences

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The internet is a ubiquitous part of today’s society and is used by many as a primary source of information. The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) realized the internet’s potential for connecting with stakeholders to transmit the findings of funded groups to make research accessible and applicable to communities and real world situations. This type of information exchange is part of what is known as research translation and is a main component of Superfund Research Programs (SRP) nationwide. Scientific communication is a burgeoning area of study, and little is known about the particular needs of the professional audience in terms of sharing information. This study explores the needs and preferences of the SRP professional audience in order to make recommendations for web design that will facilitate effective web-based research translation. The SRP Website Survey compares websites with opposing traits for each of the following dimensions of usability: comprehensibility, hyperlinks/homepage, layout, relevance, search option, structure, and user friendliness. Thirty-six respondents indicated his/her preferences for each dimension, and statistical significance was found in five areas – layout, comprehensibility, user friendliness, search option and relevance. Based on these findings, SRPs should include a streamlined layout with short navigation menus and present information in short paragraphs or bulleted lists written in non-technical language. The professional audience also indicated a need for a prominently displayed search option as well as a definitions list of jargon they may encounter while exploring a site. The findings and recommendations presented in this study should serve as a template for SRPs to conduct web-based scientific communication and increase audience knowledge and readership.

Date

2011

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Walsh, Maud

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