To appear in JASIST: Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.
Keeping up with rapidly growing research fields, especially when there are multiple interdisciplinary sources, requires substantial effort for researchers, program managers, or venture capital investors. Current theories and tools are directed at finding a paper or website, not gaining an understanding of the key papers, authors, controversies, and hypotheses. This report presents an effort to integrate statistics, text analysis, and visualization in a multiple coordinated window environment that supports exploration. Our prototype system, Action Science Explorer (ASE), provides an environment for demonstrating principles of coordination and conducting iterative usability tests of them with interested and knowledgeable users. We developed an understanding of the value of reference management, statistics, citation context extraction, natural language summarization for single and multiple documents, filters to interactively select key papers, and network visualization to see citation patterns and identify clusters. The three-phase usability study guided our revisions to ASE and led us to improve the testing methods.