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Evaluating Entity-Based Sensemaking Tools for Intelligence Analysis



Eric Bier, Theresa O'Connell, Yee-Yin Choong, Christiaan Royer, Randy Gobbel


Intelligence analysts regularly face difficult tasks. Given many potentially relevant documents and facts, they must find the most relevant, organize them, and make sense of them. New software technologies are being developed to help. Given the complexity of the tasks, technology designers need guidance early and often to ensure that the technologies work in practice. We report on a user-centered formative evaluation of sensemaking applications that provide a document collection visualization and an electronic notebook that explicitly capture and use information about entities (e.g., people, places, and things). The evaluation on two junior and two senior analysts provided an overall positive evaluation of the technology together with specific recommendations for improvements. It also revealed differences in approach between junior and senior analysts. Finally, the study suggests the possible value of shared structured notes as a way to promote conversations between knowledge workers.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the Annual Human-Computer Interaction Conference
Conference Location
Conference Title
Computer Human Interaction Conference


Entity-based sensemaking, evidence marshalling, formative evaluation, search, structured notes


Bier, E. , O'Connell, T. , Choong, Y. , Royer, C. and Gobbel, R. (2007), Evaluating Entity-Based Sensemaking Tools for Intelligence Analysis, Proceedings of the Annual Human-Computer Interaction Conference, , USA (Accessed April 14, 2024)
Created October 23, 2007, Updated October 12, 2021