Logo: VisHub University of Edinburgh, Visual+Interactive Data

Interdisciplinary research lab in data visualization and HCI at the University of Edinburgh.

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Logo of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh Logo of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh Logo of the University of Edinburgh

Visualization Literacy and Education

Visualization literacy is the ability to read, write, and create graphical representations of data using digital or physical artefacts. This is a key asset for any informed use and critical engagement with visual representations of data in every domain of the society; whether this includes the presentation of epidemiological data and model outcomes, the communication of government demographics data and social inequalities, dissemination of research findings, or to allow the public to understand timely issues with climate change or peace and conflict. However, understanding the potential of visualization, mastering its methods and tools as well as critically engaging with data and visualizations can be a challenge to large parts of the population and workforce. As visualization researchers and educators who engage in continuous professional development, public outreach, and applied research projects, we know about these challenges first-hand.

We are researching both, how do people engage with visualizations online and which thoughts do they share, as well as how we can teach novices the fundamentals and tools in data visualization. To that end, we have create visualization cheat sheets and an online course for professionals. We also run the VisActivities Workshop series at IEEE VIS in 2020 and 2021.

We are currently planning and investigating more VisActivities and aim to understand how novices understand novel visualizations and how they navigate interactive visualization environments.

People involved


Dashboard Design Patterns: Benjamin Bach, Euan Freeman, Alfie Abduhl-Rahman, Cagatay Turkay, Saiful Khan, Yulei Fan, Min Chen . IEEE TVCG. (2023). [WEB] Best paper honorable mention

Understanding Barriers to Network Exploration with Visualization: A Report from the Trenches: Mashael AlKadi, James Scott-Brown, Vanessa Serrano, Jean-Daniel Fekete, Catherine Plaisant, Uta Hinrichs, Benjamin Bach. IEEE TVCG. (2023).

Teaching Data Visualization and Storytelling with Data Comic Workshops: Zezhong Wang, Harvey Dingwal, Benjamin Bach. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), Extended Abstracts. (2019).

Towards Open-World Scenarios: Teaching the Social Side of Data Science: Corneli, Joseph, Dave Murray-Rust, and Benjamin Bach. In Proceedings of Cybernetic Serendipity Reimagined Symposium, Proc. Annual Convention of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB). (2018).

The VisTools Marketplace: An Activity to Understand the Landscape of Visualisation Tools: Arran Ridley, Sarah Schöttler, Aba-Sah Dadzie, Benjamin Bach. Workshop on Vis Activities @ IEEE VIS conference. (2020). [WEB]

Cheat Sheets for Data Visualization Techniques: Zezhong Wang, Lovisa Sundin, Dave Murray-Rust, Benjamin Bach. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). (2020). [VIDEO]

Understanding the Use of The Vistorian: Complementing Logs with Context Mini-Questionnaires: Verena S. Molinero, Benjamin Bach, Catherine Plaisant, Nicole Dufournaud, Jean-Daniel Fekete. Workshop on Visualization for the Digital Humanities IEEE VIS. (2017).