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While intelligence analysis has been a primary target domain for visual analytics system development, relatively little user and task analysis has been conducted within this area. Our research community's understanding of the work processes and practices of intelligence analysts is not deep enough to adequately address their needs. Without a better understanding of the analysts and their problems, we cannot build visual analytics systems that integrate well with their work processes and truly provide benefit to them. In order to close this knowledge gap, we conducted a longitudinal, observational field study of intelligence analysts in training within the intelligence program at Mercyhurst College. We observed three teams of analysts, each working on an intelligence problem for a ten-week period. Based upon study findings, we describe and characterize processes and methods of intelligence analysis that we observed, make clarifications regarding the processes and practices, and suggest design implications for visual analytics systems for intelligence analysis.
Date of Conference: 23-28 Oct. 2011