Position Paper: Are We Making Progress In Visualization Research?

Michael Correll

View presentation: 2022-10-17T19:45:00Z GMT-0600 Change your timezone on the schedule page
Exemplar figure, described by caption below
Three images of the solar system: a geocentric model, a geocentric model with epicycles, and, finally, the Copernican heliocentric model. Adding epicycles adds complexity and predictive power but didn't get us closer to "the truth" of our place in the cosmos. This is all a metaphor for visualization research.

The live footage of the talk, including the Q&A, can be viewed on the session page, BELIV: Paper Session 2.


In this work I use a survey of senior visualization researchers and thinkers to ideate about the notion of progress in visualization research: how are we growing as a field, what are we building towards, and are our existing methods sufficient to get us there? My respondents discussed several potential challenges for visualization research in terms of knowledge formation: a lack of rigor in the methods used, a lack of applicability to actual communities of practice, and a lack of theoretical structures that incorporate everything that happens to people and to data both before and after the few seconds when a viewer looks at a value in a chart. Orienting the field around progress (if such a thing is even desirable, which is another point of contention) I believe will require drastic re-conceptions of what the field is, what it values, and how it is taught.