Broadening Intellectual Diversity in Visualization Research Papers

Authors: Lee, B., Isaacs, K., Albers Szafir, D., Marai, G.E., Turkay, C., Tory, M., Carpendale, S., Endert, A.

Publication: IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications Magazine, pp. 1-9

Promoting a wider range of contribution types can facilitate healthy growth of the visualization community, while increasing the intellectual diversity of visualization research papers. In this article, we discuss the importance of contribution types and summarize contribution types that can be meaningful in visualization research. We also propose several concrete next steps we can and should take to ensure a successful launch of the contribution types.

We as a visualization research community increasingly see the need for and use of visualization not only for exploring or analyzing data, but also for communicating insights extracted from the data or for explaining concepts and phenomena in the real world. However, we seem to be stuck in a narrow scope when evaluating contributions that a visualization research project can and should make. For example, papers presenting novel interaction techniques for visualization often appear in non-visualization conferences after (or with the fear of) being turned away from visualization venues, being labeled as “out of scope.” We suggest that the current lens of five paper types used by several top visualization conferences is a narrow view of possible research contributions that hinders us from demonstrating and realizing the full potential of visualization research. It may well be inhospitable to the people from other research communities or industries who successfully leverage visualizations in their research and practice.

In this article, we discuss a broader range of contribution types than is currently accepted, with aims to promote healthy growth of the visualization community, to increase intellectual diversity, and to better demonstrate the value and impact of visualization research. We fully acknowledge the value of the visualization paper types, particularly with respect to the paper writing and reviewing process. However, we also note that paper types are frequently applied as prescriptive: they tend to specify much of the paper structure and may not be well-suited to papers with less common contributions (e.g., those outlining new problem spaces) or papers that do not comply with the existing structures (e.g., practitioner-oriented applications). We assert that the lens of contribution types can give a broader scope to the types of papers that are considered acceptable (e.g., exciting and emerging research that does not fit exactly into a paper type) and can offer more transient and flexible criteria to evaluate visualization research.

After discussing the importance of contribution types, we describe five examples of contribution types that are rarely seen in visualization conferences. We offer the descriptions of these contribution types along with example papers, as well as a broader collection of contribution types that are seen more widely. We also argue that looking at visualization research through the contribution type lens would support the intellectual evolution and expansion of our community, opening up the possibility of seeing new contribution types we may not yet have imagined. We conclude with the discussion of concrete next steps the visualization community can take to ensure a successful implementation and application of the research contribution types.

Date: July 1, 2019 - August 1, 2019

Document: View PDF

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