25 - 30 OCTOBER, 2015 CHICAGO, IL, USA

VAST Paper Types

Further Clarification on Paper Types in VAST 2015

VAST has two tracks, TVCG and Conference-only tracks, which correspond to different levels of originality, rigor, and significance. In general, VAST papers should be written, submitted and reviewed in the same way as papers at the other two VIS conferences (i.e., InfoVis and SciVis), following the detailed submission guidelines. However, with the rapid development of the science, technology and application of visual analytics, it is sensible to adjust our understanding of VAST publications from time to time. We provide the following clarifications about paper types for VAST 2015, beyond the discussion of the five paper types in the shared guidelines.

In visual analytics, concepts, theories, algorithms, techniques, designs, systems, empirical studies and applications normally create a context where analysis, visualization and interaction are integrated to optimize the combination of human and machine capabilities. It is this context that differentiates VAST from other conferences in VIS, while data involved can be spatial or non-spatial, techniques can be human-centric or machine-centric, and the application domain can be almost any academic discipline, industry, business sector, or governmental operation. Within such a context, an individual VAST paper may give a strong focus on an aspect where novel contributions reside, or place its emphasis on the integration of different aspects.

VAST papers typically fall into one of these six categories:

  • Theory and Model
  • Technique
  • Design Study
  • Empirical Study (referred to as the Evaluation type in in the shared guidelines)
  • System 
  • Application (as a separate category from the Design Study type in the shared guidelines)

Multi-type Papers. It is important to note that a VAST paper can present a mixture of contributions that fall into different categories. For example, a new technique may be presented in conjunction with an important application; a new design study may be led by an empirical study and supported by qualitative evaluation; a theoretical model may be supported by evidence from a real world application; and so forth. Reviewers should appreciate the combined values of the mixed contributions rather than shoehorning such a paper into a specific category, while authors should appreciate such a paper may present a challenge to some reviewers, and may not be reviewed consistently.

Authors' Perspective. The VIS guidelines, together with cited papers and reports, provide authors, especially less experienced authors, with useful guidance to organize their research activities and structure papers. Even experienced authors should not overlook such guidelines.

Reviewers' Perspective. Meanwhile, since VAST research usually features innovation, creativity and cross-disciplinarity, reviewers should not use these guidelines as a check list for acceptance or rejection in a simplistic manner. The goal of the review process is to bring the most exciting or important advances in areas of visual analytics to the VIS attendees, TVCG readers, and the larger community. Hence the role of a reviewer should be closer to a judge for a talent show than a hygiene inspector.

Reviewing is essentially an evaluation process with reviews intended to offer a balanced assessment of originality, rigor, and significance. For VAST, we particularly welcome papers that excel in at least one of these three aspects while being adequate in others. We equally welcome papers that feature significant impact on visual analytics applications, and/or interdisciplinary research activities (e.g., machine learning, cognitive sciences, and so on). Reviewers are encouraged to appraise positively Application papers and Empirical Study papers that feature one of the following qualities.

Application Papers. Visual analytics is a ubiquitous technology. Its applications include, but are not limited to physical sciences, environmental sciences, biological and medical sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, engineering, sports, media, industry, business and commerce, governance, law enforcement and security. An accepted application paper may feature one of the following qualities:

  1. Impact. An application paper demonstrates significantly high or broad impact of visual analytics (VA) in solving real world problems. Such impact may have been evidentially confirmed or an initial assessment has convincingly suggested the potential.
  2. Novelty. An application paper features a subject domain where VA has limited exposure, and demonstrates a brave and undaunted effort in extending this application area. Such novelty will encourage new adoption of VA methodologies in seemingly distant areas.
  3. Innovation. An application paper involves innovative reuse and adaptation of existing techniques in a VA pipeline and/or working practice. Such innovation may stimulate new technical advancement.
  4. Insight. An application paper offers an insightful report about the experience of the design, engineering, evaluation and deployment of a VA system or methodology. Such insight is novel and may have the potential to influence development processes in the future.

Empirical Study Papers. In VAST, the goal of empirical studies is typically to gain knowledge and insight about aspects of visual analytics through direct and indirect observation and analysis of user experience. They may provide empirical evidence to support VA theories or models, compare and measure effectiveness and efficiency of a set of VA techniques (or approaches, algorithms, systems, workflows, etc.), and collect data for data-driven metrics. An accepted empirical study paper may feature one of the following qualities:

  1. Novelty. An empirical study reports new discoveries and findings that have not been previously obtained. The study may examine a new phenomenon in VA, or provide evidence to support or contradict an unconfirmed theoretical hypothesis or practical wisdom.
  2. Innovation. An empirical study features new study methodologies that are previously unknown to or uncommon in VAST research, and are technically sound and beneficial in the direct and indirect observation of user experience and the collection of empirical data. Such a methodology may become a new template for empirical studies in VA.
  3. Significance. An empirical study presents an experiment that may be substantially more comprehensive, or lead to more meaningful statistical inference, than previous studies on the topic.
  4. Impact. An empirical study that may lead to a significant change of our fundamental understanding of major VA aspects, or result in new guidelines and practices in VA. Such impact may have been evidentially confirmed, or an initial assessment may have convincingly suggested the potential.