Talking datasets – Understanding data sensemaking behaviours

Kathleen Gregory, Laura Koesten, Paul Groth, Elena Simperl

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


The sharing and reuse of data are seen as critical to solving the most complex problems of today. Despite this potential, relatively little attention has been paid to a key step in data reuse: the behaviours involved in data-centric sensemaking. We aim to address this gap by presenting a mixed-methods study combining in-depth interviews, a think-aloud task and a screen recording analysis with 31 researchers from different disciplines as they summarised and interacted with both familiar and unfamiliar data. We use our findings to identify and detail common patterns of data-centric sensemaking across three clusters of activities that we present as a framework: inspecting data, engaging with content, and placing data within broader contexts. Additionally, we propose design recommendations for tools and documentation practices, which can be used to facilitate sensemaking and subsequent data reuse.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Issue number102562
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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