The H3ABioNet helpdesk: An online bioinformatics resource, enhancing Africa's capacity for genomics research

Kumuthini J.
Zass L.
Panji S.
Salifu S.P.
Kayondo J.K.
Nembaware V.
Mbiyavanga M.
Olabode A.
Kishk A.
Wells G.
Mulder N.J.

Background: Currently, formal mechanisms for bioinformatics support are limited. The H3Africa Bioinformatics Network has implemented a public and freely available Helpdesk (HD), which provides generic bioinformatics support to researchers through an online ticketing platform. The following article reports on the H3ABioNet HD (H3A-HD)'s development, outlining its design, management, usage and evaluation framework, as well as the lessons learned through implementation. Results: The H3A-HD evaluated using automatically generated usage logs, user feedback and qualitative ticket evaluation. Evaluation revealed that communication methods, ticketing strategies and the technical platforms used are some of the primary factors which may influence the effectivity of HD. Conclusion: To continuously improve the H3A-HD services, the resource should be regularly monitored and evaluated. The H3A-HD design, implementation and evaluation framework could be easily adapted for use by interested stakeholders within the Bioinformatics community and beyond. © 2019 The Author(s).