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Abstract

Information visualization provides a ready and potentially powerful mechanism for communicating research results. Understanding how visualizations are used in scientific discourse is one way to characterize this discourse, as well as to identify opportunities for expanding or refining it.

This article proposes a systematic framework for classifying visualizations in published journal articles with respect to the data used to construct them, the processes they seek to explain, and the research goals they serve. The framework is applied to top journals in the computing and related sciences, revealing two main findings: while visualizations appear frequently in the surveyed articles, they serve a narrow band of uses relative to those encompassed by the framework. An implication of this finding is that discourse based on information visualization may be enriched by expanding the range of information visualizations found in this research, and by developing new classes of visualizations to illuminate a broader range of research results.

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