Process and Pitfalls in Writing Information Visualization Research Papers

Tamara Munzner

Chapter from Information Visualization: Human-Centered Issues and Perspectives. Andreas Kerren, John T. Stasko, Jean-Daniel Fekete, Chris North, eds. Springer LNCS Volume 4950, p 134-153, 2008.



The goal of this paper is to help authors recognize and avoid a set of pitfalls that recur in many rejected information visualization papers, using a chronological model of the research process. Selecting a target paper type in the initial stage can avert an inappropriate choice of validation methods. Pitfalls involving the design of a visual encoding may occur during the middle stages of a project. In a later stage when the bulk of the research is finished and the paper writeup begins, the possible pitfalls are strategic choices for the content and structure of the paper as a whole, tactical problems localized to specific sections, and unconvincing ways to present the results. Final-stage pitfalls of writing style can be checked after a full paper draft exists, and the last set of problems pertain to submission.


The paper includes some pointers to design studies, but my list of favorite examples keeps changing as we grow as a field - design studies have improved dramatically in recent years, as our understanding of how to create them evolves! My current list of favorite examples, in chronological order, is below. (It's definitely biased towards my own work since I know it the best.)

Pitfalls List

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Last modified: Sat Feb 2 15:53:53 PST 2019