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A systemic perspective of the bioinformatics work domain

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posted on 12.12.2013, 13:14 authored by Roliana Ibrahim
The thesis entails an investigation of bioinfonnatics work perfonned by bench scientists through a variety of infonnation-based experimental activities and constant interaction with domain-rich infonnation space, also known as the Bioinfonnatics Infonnation Space (BIS). Ten research students from the Faculty of Pure Science at the University of Sheffield were initially interviewed for this purpose. In-depth interviews were then conducted with four students from Molecular Microbiology Research Group from the same faculty. Those interviews resulted in the production of two bioinfonnatics work models, the first of which is the Abstraction Hierarchy (AB). This model represents the bioinfonnatics work domain within a situation-independent state. It is could be regarded as a functional inventory map that provides infonnation on the basic functional features of the work domain. Further enquiry into the work domain was conducted in a situation-dependent state through the application of Beer's Viable System Model (VSM). The second model, the Process Recursion Model (PRM), conceptualises bioinfonnatics work situations by means of multiple and recursive structure. Viability diagnosis at each multi-level was perfonned by considering the design and planning of a variety of experimental procedures for the Functional Analysis of Gene Sequence Process (FAoGS), as well as the implementation of those procedures within the context of infonnation behaviour activities. The thesis suggests that the allocation of resources to support bioinfonnatics work was made based on the needs of individual work situations. The bench scientists were incapable of predicting future problematic work situations. Diagnosis to the bioinfonnatics work for F AoGS also exposed the lack of functioning cohesive and adaptive mechanisms. However, the PRM serves as a value-added tool and provides a novel way in representing the complexity of bioinfonnatics work as a multiple recursion model. This provides high-level representation of infonnation flow from one work situation to another. The model could be decomposed further to assist system analysts in integrating infonnation-based activities, thus revealing further solutions to providing effective infonnation delivery during bioinfonnatics work. This would ensure that bench scientists employ the right infonnation for the right tasks at the right time in order to achieve the ultimate purpose in experimentation, which is to determine the putative function of target genes



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© Roliana Ibrahim

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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