Smart Information Portals


Welcome to the Smart Information Portals (SIP) Project web site. This project is funded from 2006 to 2008 through the ARC Discovery Project Scheme and is currently being undertaken by researchers at Monash University's Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics.

Brief Project Overview

Access to quality information is vital in empowering consumers to achieve better health outcomes. However, there are gaps between what consumers want and need and what current health websites and portals deliver. Other issues for health consumers are information quality and reliability. The SIP project is investigating how smart information portals, can combine intelligent technologies and metadata-driven approaches to improve the health consumer’s information search.

The SIP Project builds on our successful Breast Cancer Knowledge Online Project which designed the BCKOnline Portal. The SIP Project is investigating the further, refinement and extension of this kind of user sensitive healthcare information.

SIP Collaborative Website (Restricted Access)

About Smart Information Portals

Our aim is to better empower health consumers and improve their online search experience through the provision of smart information portals (SIPs) tailored to the knowledge and decision support needs of specific health user communities. A SIP provides a gateway to a set of distributed information resources selected and described by domain experts. Domain expertise comes from having first hand experience of a particular health issue along with extensive knowledge of the medical, supportive and psychosocial information needs of the associated community.

We are working on features that include:

  • personalisation functions to better meet individual preferences and needs,
  • ranking of resources according to their relevance to the user,
  • access to value-added information on reliability, provenance, authority and assessments of the quality of information resources, and
  • transparency in providing the criteria used to select resources and assess their quality.

The SIP approach to information retrieval:

  • focuses on user characteristics relating to a particular disease or condition identified through user information needs analysis.
  • builds metadata profiles based on this information in order to describe information resources for the target audience needs.
  • describes resources in a conventional way, but also includes these 'user-centric' resource descriptors.
  • allows users to search and retrieve information based on these attributes.
  • fosters the deployment of intelligent technologies to support metadata creation and enhance the search experience for the healthcare consumer.

Smart Information Portals research team

Professor Frada Burstein

Professor Frada Burstein is a chief investigator of the SIP project. She leads and co-ordinate the project overseeing the conceptual design and modelling SIP and components with particular reference to Information and Decision Support System (IDSS) functionalities.

Associate Professor Julie Fisher

Associate Professor Julie Fisher is a chief investigator of the SIP project and her focus is on the case studies, user  information needs analyses and usability studies of prototypes of smart information portal components.

Professor Sue McKemmish

Professor Sue McKemmish is a chief investigator of the SIP project contributing expertise in relation to metadata related approaches and SIP components. She also co-ordinates the exploration of key portal values – quality, reliability and trust – from stakeholder and broader societal perspectives.

Professor Jim Warren

Professor Warren brings to the project a background on electronic decision support for chronic disease management, electronic health record architecture and design of adaptive consumer internet portals. His current focus in the SIP project is on making the maintenance of meta-data for consumer health resources more sustainable and scaleable through methods of automatically inferring the meta-data attributes of Web pages.

Joanne Evans

Joanne Evans has been appointed as the Research Fellow for the SIP project from May 2007. As well as project management responsibilities, her research interests in the project lie in investigating how the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes for selecting and describing resources for inclusion in a virtual and distributed knowledge repository can be enhanced with intelligent technologies.

Kate Lazarenko

Kate Lazarenko is working as a Research Assistant. Her research interests are focused on personalisation, user profiling mechanisms, HCI, user-centred design, and usability. She has been involved in a number of research projects, and her proposed PhD thesis is expected to be related to the portal’s intelligent features, personalisation in particular.

Jue Xie

Jue Xie is a PhD student looking to investigate quality issues associated with health information on the Internet. Her main research interest is to support domain experts who work for third-party gateways in evaluating online health information through the use of intelligent technologies. She comes to the project with a number of years experience as a research assistant and a .Net programmer in a variety of component-based software engineering projects. She is also working as a programmer on the SIP project.

Guocai Chen

Rosetta Manaszewicz

Rosetta Manaszewicz has been appointed as a Research Fellow on the project to explore how the resource identification, selection and description processes of domain experts can be assisted by intelligent technologies. Rosetta was a Research Fellow on the Breast Cancer Knowledge Online Project and is currently undertaking PhD research investigating information use by women with advanced breast cancer.

Overview of the SIP project progress

Project StagesTimeframeExpected outcomes

Literature analysis

August 2006 - ongoing


Case studies of portal intelligent features

August 2006 - October 2006


Usability studies of SIP prototypes and other  healthcare portals

August 2006 - ongoing


Domain expert knowledge elicitation

November 2007 - February 2008


Analysis of portal use

August 2007 - December 2007


Development of SIP principles relating to  information quality, relevance and reliability, trust usability, usefulness and  personalisation.

August 2006 - ongoing


Value-sensitive design principles

August 2007 - July 2009


Investigation of the role of intelligent features

January 2008 - January 2009

Smart Information Portals publications

Conference Papers

  • Kate Lazarenko and Frada Burstein (2006) ‘Health Information Provision can be a Smarter Business ‘ in Khalid S. Soliman (Ed.), Internet & Information Systems in the Digital Age: Challenges & Solutions. Proceedings of the 7th International Business Information Management Association (IBIMA) Conference 14-16 December 2006, Brescia, Italy, IBIMA.

  • Julie Fisher, Frada Burstein, Kate Lazarenko, Kathy Lynch and Sue McKemmish (2007) ‘Health Information Websites: Is the Health Consumer Being Well Served?’ paper presented at AMCIS 2007 Reaching New Heights Conference, August 9-12 2007, Keystone Colorado.

  • Guocai Chen, Jim Warren and Joanne Evans (2008) ‘Automatically Generated Consumer Health Metadata Using Semantic Spaces’, paper presented at the Australasian Workshop on Health Data and Knowledge Management (HDKM) 2008 on the 25 January 2008 as part of the Australasian Computer Science Week 2008 conference.

See also:

Breast Cancer Knowledge Online Publications - publications from this project introduce  the concepts and discuss features of smart information portals. The following  have also been published since the end of that project:

  • Frada Burstein, Sue McKemmish, Julie Fisher, Rosetta Manaszewicz, and Poojah Malhotra, (2006). 'A Role For Information Portals As Intelligent Decision Support Systems: Breast Cancer Knowledge Online Experience'. In J. Gupta, G. Forgionne & M. Mora (Eds.), Intelligent Decision-Making Support Systems: Foundations, Applications And Challenges, London, UK: Springer-Verlag, pp. 359-383.

  • Julie Fisher, Frada Burstein, Sue McKemmish, and Rosetta Manaszewicz (2006). 'Applying A User-Centred Design Approach To Building A Personalised Health Information Portal For Decision Support'. In F. Adam, P. Brezillion, S. Carlsson & P. Humphreys (Eds.), Creativity and Innovation in Decision Making and Decision Support, London, UK: Ludic Publishing Ltd, pp. 488-505.

  • Jane Moon and Julie Fisher (2006). 'The Effectiveness Of Australian Medical Portals: Are They Meeting The Health Consumer's Needs'. In P. Walden, M. Markus, J. Gricar, A. Pucihar & G. Lenart (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th Blede Conference: eValues Bled, Slovenia, 5-7 June, pp. 1-12.

  • Sue McKemmish, Rosetta Manaszewicz, Frada Burstein, and Julie Fisher  (2009). 'Consumer empowerment through metadata-based information quality  reporting: The Breast Cancer Knowledge Online Portal', Journal of the  American Society for Information Science and Technology. Available at:

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