Category Archives: Visualization

Visualization for Research Management – VIVO 2014

Download “Visualization for Research Management” from the VIVO 2014 conference: PDF


Universities and funding bodies are placing increasing emphasis on return on investment (ROI) related to research. Research managers at all levels need objective metrics and data, further developed into visualizations, that provide insights to support decisions about investments and that also promote understanding of the outcomes of those decisions.

It is critical to have visibility to both inputs and outputs related to research, and VIVO-compatible data can be used for these purposes. Examples include:

-An organizational dashboard used by top-level administrators at a large research organization (>$0.5 Billion annual research expenditure)

-Benchmarking and collaboration analysis

-Faculty activity reporting

-Recruitment and retention analysis

Evidence-based Metrics for Research Performance Strategies – NORDP 2014

Download “Evidence-based Metrics for Research Performance Strategies” from the Pre-NORDP 2014 Workshop: PDF

This presentation covers:

What are metrics?
+How to develop good metrics

Metrics for research
+How to develop good research metrics

Expanding research dashboard metrics to benchmarking and collaboration

Drilling beneath research dashboard metrics for advanced use


With increased competition in the US R&D landscape, research institutions are taking a strategic approach to research and collaboration strategies. Structured data sources, evidence-based metrics, and collaboration and benchmarking tools, as delivered by the new Pure Experts Portal, are increasingly being used by research managers to inform decision making and to enhance their institutions research strategy. Current users of SciVal Experts will share case studies and how they have used the web services and functionality of SciVal Experts to address critical institution needs.

Places & Spaces: Mapping Science Exhibit

The Places & Spaces: Mapping Science Exhibit visited the University of Michigan Hatcher Graduate Library from March 7 through May 24, 2011.

From my trip to the exhibit — the Network Science Research poster from University of Michigan contributors featured prominently at the entrance:


 From the poster:

The works presented here were invited to accompany the international Places & Spaces: Mapping Science exhibit on display at the University of Michigan Library in March 1 to May 24, 2011.

The maps showcase excellence in network science research and education at the University of Michigan. They were created in many different areas of science, including medicine, bioinformatics, sociology, organizational studies, information science, and physics, to advance our understanding of the structure and dynamics of networks.

On a practical side, Jeff Horon’s map demonstrates the innovative usage of science analysis and mapping in support of team formation and grant proposal writing that helped secure a P30 award by National Institutes of Health that finances a new Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Michigan.

It is our hope that the Mapping Science exhibit will inspire future collaborations across disciplinary and geospatial boundaries, the application of effective visualization techniques to communicate the results of these studies, and the adoption of advanced data analysis and visualization methods to improve daily decision making.

Download the poster: PDF

The exhibit features maps describing the power of maps, reference systems, and forecasts as well as science maps for economic decision makers, policy makers, and scholars. These are the ‘stars of the show’ but I won’t go into detail here since they are already well-described on the exhibit website.

The exhibit also features WorldProcessor Globes reflecting ‘Patterns of Patents & Zones of Invention’ over time and across geography:


Patterns of Patents & Zones of Invention [WorldProcessor #286]

“This globe plots the total amount of patents granted worldwide, beginning in 1883 with just under 50,000, hitting 650,000 in 1993 (near the North Pole), and (shifting the scale to the southern hemisphere) continuing to 2002 on a rapid climb towards 1 million. Geographic regions where countries offer environments conducive to fostering innovation are represented by topology. Additionally, nations where residents are granted an average of 500 or more US patents per year are called out in red by their respective averages in the years after 2000. © 2005 Ingo Gunther”


And the ‘Shape of Science’ given “quantified connectivities and relative flows of inquiry within the world of science”:


“This rendering is of a prospective tangible sculpture of the Shape of Science, based on the research of Richard Klavans and Kevin Boyack, spatializing the quantified connectivities and relative flows of inquiry within the world of science. © 2006 Ingo Gunther w/ Stephen Oh”


The exhibit also includes interactive video monitors and hands-on maps for kids.

 Attributions and Acknowledgements:

Network Science Research Poster

“Several University of Michigan faculty created maps included in the exhibit: Santiago Schnell, Molecular and Integrative Physiology; Lada Adamic, School of Information; M. E. J. Newman, Physics; Jeff Horon, Medical School; Helena Buhr, Natalie Cotton, and Jason Owen-Smith, Sociology and Organizational Studies.”


Overall Exhibit

Places & Spaces is curated Dr. Katy Börner and Michael J. Stamper, School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University. Places & Spaces also receives input from the Places and Spaces Advisory Board. The exhibit is sponsored by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0737783 and IIS-0715303; the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Scientific/Reuters; Elsevier; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from Thomson Scientific/Reuters.

Thank you to Dr. Katy Börner and Michael J. Stamper for curating the exhibit. Thank you to Tim Utter and Rebecca Hill for bringing the exhibit to the University of Michigan.

This exhibit was mentioned in press at:

Heritage Newspapers Online and Print Editions

Excel Chart Templates

It’s easier to communicate when your data is the most prominent feature of your chart.  Start from good templates.

Basic Excel charts draw focus to themselves instead of the data at hand, by defaulting to include dark gridlines, dark lines and tick marks on each axis, a dark border, color-coded series, and indirect labeling. However, visualization master Edward Tufte and others have taught us that less is often more. By avoiding ‘non-data ink,’ chartjunk, and formatting ‘gloss,’ we can improve the visual clarity of — and therefore the effectiveness of — our data visualizations.

Time is valuable. This means that we should use tools that are good by default. To that end, I have created a series of templates for the six basic Excel chart types.

The basic formatting choices that distinguish these charts from Excel defaults are: light gray gridlines, no axis lines, no tick marks, no borders, and no legend [if you need to describe multiple series, consider the technique of small multiples]. If color encoding becomes necessary, you’ll have to do this manually (as was done for the pie chart at the bottom).

Area Chart – Download Area Chart [.crtx] Template


Bar Chart – Download Bar Chart [.crtx] Template


Column Chart – Download Column Chart [.crtx] Template


Line Chart – Download Line Chart [.crtx] Template


Pie Chart – Download Pie Chart [.crtx] Template


(you’ll need to recolor your series manually to achieve the monochromatic blue effect)

Scatter Chart – Download Scatter Chart [.crtx] Template


 To use these templates, save them to your template directory, which is probably:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates\Charts

Then, the next time you want to insert a chart, select ‘All Chart Types’ from the bottom of any ‘Insert’ –> ‘Chart’ menu and then ‘Templates.’ You should see any templates saved into your templates directory as options.

Approachable Network Analysis

Materials from my presentation Approachable Network Analysis are now available: PDF

From the University of Michigan Business Intelligence Community of Experts site:

Approachable Network Analysis


Jeff Horon
Business Analyst
Medical School Grant Review & Analysis Office


Unlock the power of network structures in your data. Learn how to build and analyze networks to gain insights through relationship analysis. Apply approachable techniques and free, user-friendly software. Transform the data you have into the data you need – from relational databases and unstructured text to common network structures.

Jeff detailed his work in the Medical School Grant Review & Analysis Office. Examples will include: Identifying networks of collaborators from eResearch Proposal Management [eRPM PAF] data, discovering networks of concepts in unstructured text, and use cases from other administrative data sets. Jeff’s presentation included:

-“Networks 101″ – The basic building blocks of networks
-How people in any campus unit can apply network analysis
-An emphasis on approachable techniques and free, user-friendly software
-Strategies for effectively visualizing and sharing network-driven insights
-Tools, tips, and tricks

Presented examples were produced with NodeXL, which is a product of Microsoft Research and university collaborators. NodeXL is very approachable — you can produce a network visualization by simply copying and pasting in two columns of properly-formatted data (i.e. an ‘edge list’). It computes a desirable set of network metrics, including eigenvector centrality. Layout, visual encoding, and aesthetics are top notch. It installs into Excel 2007+ as a template.