Presentation by K. Winters
Abstract The VISTAS (VISualization of Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems) project addresses cross-discipline research integration on many levels. At one level, one that is product-oriented, it provides a foundation for future integration of diverse data and models across disciplines through the research and development of software tools for visualizing complex data that span multiple spatial and temporal scales. At another level, it incorporates process-oriented integration using social science methods to track and analyze the practices of researchers from diverse disciplines (ecology, computer science, and social science). At yet another level, it supports communication-oriented integration, examining what data visualizations might be best-suited for communication ‘horizontally’—across scientific disciplines, as well as ‘vertically’—across use-types, such as in a policy or management context versus a purely scientific context.
The VISTAS survey presentation will provide a brief overview of the VISTAS project, and then focus on findings from our recent survey of over 24,000 visualizations found in peer-reviewed literature and juried presentations. The aim of the survey was to advance insight on problem solving within the context of transdisciplinary research. The practice of peer review is relatively consistent across disciplines, and when peer-reviewed media are surveyed, it can provide a snapshot of the current practices of research scientists, including their use of data visualization. Our survey was a way to gauge the “current state of data visualization” and to build a definition of what constitutes “good” data visualization (defined as both sophisticated and effective) in the field of ecology. The survey methods were quantitative and qualitative, inductive (for definition building) and deductive (for definition confirmation) in nature. The survey findings direct not only our team’s understanding of how some sub-disciplines within the field of ecology vary, but also inform the development of VISTAS software for visualizing multiple researchers’ data. This presentation will share a bird’s-eye view of how our research team’s work might inform transdisciplinary integration and will showcase findings from the extensive survey and analysis of peer-reviewed literature and conference proceedings.