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School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering


"Information Visualisation Foundation Study"

Staff and funding

Principal investigator: Dr Panayiotis Zaphiris

Research Staff: Terry Hoi-Yan Ma Total

Funding: £44,967.25 Funding

Sourch: JISC

Duration: from July 2003 to January 2004

Project description

The project is an Information Visualisation (IV) Foundation Study for JISC.  It will investigate existing IV approaches/techniques used by JISC Services or other similar systems and propose modifications/adoptions and strategies for further incorporation of IV techniques in JISC services.

The prime objectives are to:

  • Perform extensive literature review of literature on Information Visualisation and especially their link to Digital Libraries
  • Identify and document JISC Requirements for Information Visualisation
  • Study current practices of use of IV techniques by JISC and other similar (or even different) services
  • Apply theory to practice by involving users in designing low fidelity prototypes of information visualisation techniques to be used by JISC
  • Provide a set of guidelines for incorporating IV techniques in JISC services

A series of interviews, questionnaires, participatory design focus groups and evaluations will be employed in this project.
The programme of work will be structured into 4 activities, as detailed below.

Activity 1: JISC Requirements for Information Visualisation
The aim of this activity is to articulate JISC's requirements for Information Visualisation in greater depth.  This will involve firstly understanding and characterising the broad range of JISC services to establish their specific Information Visualisation requirements (e.g. geospatial systems will have different requirements from portals) and, secondly, investigating current Information Visualisation practices within JISC to identify best practice and opportunities for improvement.  Interviews, focus groups and questionnaires will be conducted with JISC staff to elicit this information.

Activity 2: Literature Review
An extensive review of literature on Information Visualisation and especially literature that links this discipline with the design of Digital Libraries will be carried out to investigate existing theories, frameworks and practices.  The review will focus on issues relevant to the services offered by JISC, as identified in Activity 1.  

Activity 3: Study of Current Practice
This activity is intended to complement the literature review carried out in Activity 2. We will interview domain experts from the UK and abroad to establish Information Visualisation criteria and best practices for services and resources similar in nature to those offered by JISC.  This will lead to a comparative assessment of similar practices. Our discussions with JISC, domain experts, and our own research will guide the selection of similar services and resources.

Activity 4: Applying Theory to Practice
The last activity of this project has three main objectives.  Our first objective is to evaluate existing information visualisation techniques used by JISC.  A number of different JISC services' information visualisation techniques will be evaluated in a series of expert (cognitive walkthroughs, heuristic evaluations) and user based (usability testing) exercises with an emphasis on identifying best practice that could be taken up more generally by JISC services and projects.
Our second goal will be to engage in the development of Information Visualisation low-fidelity prototypes using participatory design (i.e. the direct involvement of users in the development of the prototypes).
Our third goal will be to develop JISC specific guidelines for designing and evaluating Information Visualisation techniques for JISC services. Building on the existing literature and our prior work in developing usability guidelines for JISC services a comprehensive taxonomy of guidelines for designing and evaluating Information Visualisation will be provided.  Where possible every guideline/principle will be supported with relevant literature and where necessary, a number of controlled experiments with users will be carried out to validate and refine the proposed guidelines.  Emphasis will also be placed in developing links between these Information Visualisation guidelines and pedagogical models.