Building a Visual Data Sharing Platform for a Research Group – A User-Centred Design Approach
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The open access movement, promoting research articles to be freely accessible, has expanded to include the data associated with the research, however, there is a lack of platforms designed for research groups to share their data. In addition, there is little knowledge about researchers’ expectations and preferences for data sharing tools. This research is important as platforms fitting the specific needs of research groups could encourage them to share their data. This project aims to address these gaps by investigating the requirements of research groups for geographic data sharing tools and exploring techniques to visualise and contextualise spatial datasets within such a tool. As a proof of concept, the IceExplorer – a prototype of a web based visual data sharing platform – was implemented, containing Earth Observation data. Components include (1) a Graphical User Interface (GUI) with spatial visualisation and the functionality to download data, (2) a web Application Programming Interface (API) to download data directly and (3) a tool for researchers to add new data via a command-line utility. A User-centred Design (UCD) approach was applied, including context of use analysis, user requirement survey, user requirement specification, user usability testing and user survey. The findings during the UCD process have confirmed the importance of visualisation for spatial data sharing. Visual data sharing platforms – such as the IceExplorer – motivate researchers and research groups to share their data and support data users to easily access desired data products.