Title page for ETD etd-08032011-165733

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Emmich, Sarah Gabrielle
Author's Email Address semmic1@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-08032011-165733
Title Evaluation of Superfund Research Program Wesites in a Research Translation Context
Degree Master of Natural Sciences (M.N.S.)
Department Agronomy & Environmental Management
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Walsh, Maud Committee Chair
Reams, Margaret Committee Member
Wascom, Michael Committee Member
  • website design
  • scientific communication
  • website usability
  • research translation
Date of Defense 2011-07-28
Availability unrestricted
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.
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