A qualitative study of the implementation of a bioinformatics tool in a biological research laboratory

Nicholas R. Anderson, Joan S. Ash, Peter Tarczy-Hornoch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore how the implementation of a comprehensive new bioinformatics analysis system would affect workflow, collaboration and information management in a small genetic research lab. Design: This was a longitudinal qualitative study of seven individuals involved in genomic and proteomic research. The study data were gathered using the illuminative/responsive approach of immersion in the environment. Additional qualitative data were gathered using informal semi-structured interviews, participant observation in lab meetings, and direct observation of lab researchers engaged in specific tasks. Measurements: Interview, observation and field note data were coded and analyzed based on three analysis perspectives. A subset of the data was independently evaluated by an external researcher to enhance the trustworthiness of results. Results: Three reoccurring themes were observed in the study. (1) Satisfaction and acceptance of software tools tended to be role and goal specific. (2) The system was seen primarily as a measurement system rather than a "total laboratory analysis system". (3) Lab meetings deemphasized the system, preferring more traditional data analysis techniques. These themes support the observations that the system was not used to its full potential in the lab. Conclusion: Themes identified in this study suggest that sophisticated genetic researchers face similar problems of technology implementation as do professionals in other fields. We recommend that leadership support and on-going training and evolution of academic curricula can improve chances of bioinformatics analysis systems becoming used more effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-828
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioinformatics
  • Evaluation studies
  • Systems analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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