Bringing digital tools to academic researchers
As part of its transition from print to digital, Elsevier set up an innovation program to design, validate and kick-off implementation of digital products and services aimed to support the workflow of academic researchers.
Image by Lucas Vasques - via Unsplash
Elsevier - one of the world’s largest publishers of academic publications - is transitioning towards offering digital tools to better support academic researchers to conduct their work. This shift impacts several areas of the organisation and requires new ways of working. As first step, the company set up an innovation program to continuously design and evaluate new product initiatives.
I was part of the first team set-up to tackle this challenge. As a result, we validated several product initiatives, some of which have made their way into different Elsevier units and digital offerings like Mendeley and Science Direct.
The experiements team consisted of designers, developers and strategists who worked side by side using a scrum approach to ideate new product concepts, set-up validation experiments with users and transfer promising concepts to internal teams for implementation.
During my involvement as UX designer in the team, I focused on creating high value features for Mendeley. For instance, we explored how to further develop the social value of the platform in order to promote cross-discipline collaboration within researchers. Another key experiment revolved around Mendeley Suggest with the goal to understand how to present relevant article recommendations to scientists based on their novelty, usefulness and transparency.
A key aspect of the program was collaborating with academic researchers themselves; the multiple product explorations were validated with users throughout the design process by means of interviews, remote usability tests and longitudinal studies, amongst other research methods. For this, we had access to Elsevier’s network of users, aiming to understand the needs of researchers around the world; this network consisted initially of researchers from five top universities across America, Europe and Asia and later expanded to institutions across the globe.