“That means nothing to me as a normal person who doesn't know about patents”: Usability testing of Google Patents and Patent Public Search with undergraduate engineering students
Patent searching is an important research tool for undergraduate engineering students, yet it requires special topic knowledge to conduct successfully. Patent database websites have the ability to alleviate or add to the complexity of patent searching, depending on their usability. Prompted by the launch of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Public Search (PPS) website in early 2022, the authors investigated the usability of PPS and Google Patents. The study's objective was to gain insights into the ways in which the websites of commonly-used patent databases support undergraduate students’ patent searching activities. The study examined students’ performance of typical tasks such as constructing search queries, filtering results, evaluating results, and interpreting classification and citation data. Data was collected via moderated in-person usability testing, following a think-aloud protocol. Usability issues were identified in both websites, though participants unanimously preferred Google Patents due to their familiarity with other Google products and the “cleaner” design of the search interface. Based on the study’s results, the authors offer recommendations for patent literacy instruction for undergraduate students.
Sherriff, Graham and Rogers, Molly
"“That means nothing to me as a normal person who doesn't know about patents”: Usability testing of Google Patents and Patent Public Search with undergraduate engineering students,"
Journal of the Patent and Trademark Resource Center Association: Vol. 33, Article 1.
Available at: https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/jptrca/vol33/iss1/1
ABET. (2021). 2022-2023 Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs. https://www.abet.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/2022-23-EAC-Criteria.pdf
Asche, G. (2017). “80% of technical information found only in patents” – Is there proof of this ? World Patent Information, 48, 16–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wpi.2016.11.004
Association of College and Research Libraries. (2006). Information Literacy Standards for Science and Engineering/Technology. https://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/infolitscitech
Association of College and Research Libraries. (2016). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. https://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/issues/infolit/framework1.pdf
Association of College and Research Libraries. (2022). Companion Document to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. https://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/standards/Framework_Companion_STEM.pdf
Banks, D. (2006, December 13). Now you can search for U.S. patents. Google Official Blog. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/12/now-you-can-search-for-us-patents.html
Brown, D. P. (2016, June 26). Teaching patents and design novelty to engineering students: A narrative case study based approach. 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, LA, United States. https://peer.asee.org/teaching-patents-and-design-novelty-to-engineering-students-a-narrative-case-study-based-approach
Carleo, A. (2019, September 23). 3 ways to get more out of a rainbow sheet. Methods Mondays. https://medium.com/methods-mondays/3-ways-to-get-more-out-of-a-rainbow-sheet-99223fa8e9c1
Clarke, J. (2014). Draw on existing knowledge: Taking advantage of prior art. In M. Fosmire & D. Radcliffe (Eds.), Integrating information into the engineering design process (pp. 125–135). Purdue University Press. http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/purduepress_ebooks/31
Dudek, D., Mastora, A., & Landoni, M. (2007). Is Google the answer?: A study into usability of search engines. Library Review, 56(3), 224–233. https://doi.org/10.1108/00242530710736000
Google Accessibility. (n.d.). For Customers and Partners. Google. https://www.google.com/accessibility/customers-partners/
Google Help. (n.d. a). About Google Patents: Coverage. Google. https://support.google.com/faqs/answer/7049585?hl=en&ref_topic=6390989
Google Help. (n.d. b). About Google Patents: Overview. Google. https://support.google.com/faqs/answer/6390996?hl=en&visit_id=638098303927355088-395718566&ref_topic=6390989&rd=1
International Organization for Standardization. (2018, March). ISO 9241-11:2018 Ergonomics of human-system interaction—Part 11: Usability: Definitions and concepts. https://www.iso.org/standard/63500.html
Jeffryes, J., & Lafferty, M. (2012). Gauging workplace readiness: Assessing the information needs of engineering co-op students. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 69, Article 69. https://doi.org/10.29173/istl1548
Jürgens, B., & Clarke, N. (2018). Study and comparison of the unique selling propositions (USPs) of free-to-use multinational patent search systems. World Patent Information, 52, 9–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wpi.2018.01.001
Krug, S. (2005). Don’t Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2nd ed.). Pearson Education.
Lutz, B. D., & Paretti, M. C. (2017). Exploring student perceptions of capstone design outcomes. International Journal of Engineering Education, 33(5), 1521–1533. https://www.ijee.ie/contents/c330517.html
Meier, J. J. (2012). Intellectual property: Patents: Important information literacy standards for interdisciplinary science courses. In J. R. Davidson & K. O’Clair (Eds.), The Busy Librarian’s Guide to Information Literacy in Science and Engineering (pp. 93–104). American Library Association. https://alastore.ala.org/content/busy-librarians-guide-information-literacy-science-and-engineering
Meier, J. J. (2015). Patent searching for STEM researchers. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 79. https://doi.org/10.29173/istl1631
Nazemetz, J., Rossler, P., High, M., & High, K. (2007). Why reinvent the wheel?: The U.S. Patent And Trademark Office as a design tool. 2007 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, HI, United States. https://peer.asee.org/why-reinvent-the-wheel-the-u-s-patent-and-trademark-office-as-a-design-tool
Nielsen, J. (2000, March 18). Why you only need to test with 5 users. Nielsen Norman Group. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/why-you-only-need-to-test-with-5-users/
Nielsen, J. (2012, January 3). Usability 101: Introduction to usability. Nielsen Norman Group. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-101-introduction-to-usability/
Nielsen, J. (2012, January 15). Thinking aloud: The #1 usability tool. Nielsen Norman Group. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/thinking-aloud-the-1-usability-tool/
Noruzi, A., & Abdekhoda, M. (2014). Google Patents: The global patent search engine. Webology, 11(1), 12. http://hdl.handle.net/10760/28377
Phillips, M., & Zwicky, D. (2017). Patent information use in engineering technology design: An analysis of student work. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 87, Article 87. https://doi.org/10.29173/istl1706
Priestner, A. (2021). A Handbook of User Experience Research & Design in Libraries. UX in Libraries.
Schox, J. (2015). Not So Obvious: An Introduction to Patent Law and Strategy (4th edition). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Sharon, T. (2013, April 11). The rainbow spreadsheet: A collaborative lean UX research tool. Smashing Magazine. https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2013/04/rainbow-spreadsheet-collaborative-ux-research-tool/
Sherriff, G. (n.d.). Patents and Trademarks. UVM Libraries. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://researchguides.uvm.edu/c.php?g=290208&p=8308502
Sherriff, G., & Rand, D. (2022). Prior art research in the capstone design experience: A case study of redesigned online and in-person instruction. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 100, Article 100. https://doi.org/10.29173/istl2598
Turner, T. (2022, September 8). Personal communication. US Patent and Trademark Office. US Patent and Trademark Office. (n.d. a). Patent Public Search: FAQs. https://ppubs.uspto.gov/pubwebapp/static/pages/faq.html
US Patent and Trademark Office. (n.d. b). Patent Public Search: Training materials. https://ppubs.uspto.gov/pubwebapp/static/pages/quick-reference-guides.html
US Patent and Trademark Office. (n.d. c). USPTO 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/USPTO_2018-2022_Strategic_Plan.pdf
US Patent and Trademark Office Patent and Trademark Research Center Program Office. (2023, January 17). Getting started with the Patent Public Search tool: An overview [Webinar].
UVM Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. (2023, February 3). Enrollment. University of Vermont. https://www.uvm.edu/oir/enrollment.
White, G. (2021, June 28). Are there differences between Google Patents, Espacenet, The Lens and PatentScope? Ask Patents. https://patents.stackexchange.com/q/23195
Zwicky, D. (2019). Thoughts on patents and information literacy. Journal of the Patent & Trademark Resource Center Association, 29(1). https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/lib_fsdocs/216
Intellectual Property Law Commons, Library and Information Science Commons, Science and Technology Studies Commons, Technology and Innovation Commons