Awareness Support for Knowledge Workers in Research Networks

Wolfgang Reinhardt

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisThesis 2: defended at OU & OU (co)supervisor, external graduate


    Knowledge workers all over the world are using a plethora of tools to carry out their daily working tasks thereby creating and consuming an ever-increasing amount of data. They are members of several scientific communities at the same time and connected in so-called Research Networks. Because of this fast growing amount of information, it is getting increasingly difficult for knowledge workers to stay aware of relevant content, people, activities, and events for their daily work. Knowledge workers are facing information overload and are in need of tools and techniques that help them to stay on a high awareness level. Awareness support tools may help to reduce the information overload and make knowledge workers more informed about their dynamic working context. In this thesis we explore the needs of knowledge workers from stakeholder interviews to identify their activities and interactions in interconnected Research Networks. Based on these findings we propose a layered model of awareness that describes the overall awareness of individuals in Research Networks. In two empirical studies, we apply Artefact-Actor-Networks to describe the semantic connections between content and people in Research Networks by analyzing social media artifacts and scientific publications. Moreover, we visualize the resulting networks and show how researchers can be more aware of activities and interactions in their Research Networks with the selected approach. Based on these results, we designed a widget-based dashboard that is meant to support researchers' awareness in their daily working routine. Finally, we present a future scientific event management system that addresses the identified awareness issues by offering technical solutions that are inspired by the empirical findings and the tested prototypes. We demonstrate how the integration of classic event management features from social networking sites can help strengthening the ties between researchers and lead to enhance awareness of relevant information. This thesis shows that awareness of researchers in Research Networks can be enhanced by tools that take into account the roles and actions of knowledge workers in general as well as the specific needs and features of awareness support of researchers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Open Universiteit: faculties and services
    • Sloep, Peter, Supervisor
    • Drachsler, Hendrik, Co-supervisor
    Award date5 Apr 2012
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-818616-0-1
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2012


    • awareness
    • knowledge worker
    • knowledge work
    • research networks
    • social media
    • social network analysis
    • artefact-actor-networks
    • text similarity


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