An Effective End-User Development Approach through Domain-Specific Mashups for Research Impact Evaluation

Imran, Muhammad (2013) An Effective End-User Development Approach through Domain-Specific Mashups for Research Impact Evaluation. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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Over the last decade, there has been growing interest in the assessment of the performance of researchers, research groups, universities and even countries. The assessment of productivity is an instrument to select and promote personnel, assign research grants and measure the results of research projects. One particular assessment approach is bibliometrics i.e., the quantitative analysis of scientific publications through citation and content analysis. However, there is little consensus today on how research evaluation should be performed, and it is commonly acknowledged that the quantitative metrics available today are largely unsatisfactory. The process is very often highly subjective, and there are no universally accepted criteria. A number of dierent scientific data sources available on the Web (e.g., DBLP, Microsoft Academic Search, Google Scholar) that are used for such analysis purposes. Taking data from these diverse sources, performing the analysis and visualizing results in different ways is not a trivial and straight forward task. Moreover, the data taken from these sources cannot be used as it is due to the problem of name disambiguation, where many researchers share identical names or an author dierent name variations appear in the data. We believe that the personalization of the evaluation processes is a key element for the appropriate use and practical success of these research impact evaluation tasks. Moreover, people involved in such evaluation processes are not always IT experts and hence not capable to crawl data sources, merge them and compute the needed evaluation procedures. The recent emergence of mashup tools has refueled research on end-user development, i.e., on enabling end-users without programming skills to produce their own applications. Yet, similar to what happened with analogous promises in web service composition and business process management, research has mostly focused on technology and, as a consequence, has failed its objective. Plain technology (e.g., SOAP/WSDL web services) or simple modeling languages (e.g., Yahoo! Pipes) do not convey enough meaning to non-programmers. We believe that the heart of the problem is that it is impractical to design tools that are generic enough to cover a wide range of application domains, powerful enough to enable the specification of non-trivial logic, and simple enough to be actually accessible to non-programmers. At some point, we need to give up something. In our view, this something is generality since reducing expressive power would mean supporting only the development of toy applications, which is useless, while simplicity is our major aim. This thesis presents a novel approach for an effective end-user development, specifically for non-programmers. That is, we introduce a domain-specific approach to mashups that "speaks the language of users", i.e., that is aware of the terminology, concepts, rules, and conventions (the domain) the user is comfortable with. We show what developing a domain-specific mashup platform means, which role the mashup meta-model and the domain model play and how these can be merged into a domain-specific mashup metamodel. We illustrate the approach by implementing a generic mashup platform, whose capabilities are based on our proposed mashup meta-model. Further, we illustrate how the generic mashup platform can be tailored for a specific domain, which is achieved through the development of ResEval Mash tool that is specifically developed for the research evaluation domain. Moreover, the thesis proposed an architectural design for mashup platforms, specifically it presents a novel approach for data-intensive mashup-based web applications, which proved to be a substantial contribution. The proposed approach is suitable for those applications, which deal with large amounts of data that travel between client and server. For the evaluation of our work and to determine the effectiveness and usability of our mashup tool, we performed two separate user studies. The results of the user studies confirm that domain-specific mashup tools indeed lower the entry barrier for non-technical users in mashup development. The methodology presented in this thesis is generic and can be applied for other domains. Moreover, following the methodological approach the developed mashup platform is also generic, that is, it can be tailored for other domains.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Information and Communication Technology
PhD Cycle:XXV
Subjects:Area 01 - Scienze matematiche e informatiche > INF/01 INFORMATICA
Uncontrolled Keywords:End-User Development, Mashups, Domain-Specific Mashups, Research Evaluation
Repository Staff approval on:16 Apr 2013 09:51

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