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The VIS 2021 Area Model

Hello VIS community,

as you are probably aware, IEEE VIS will transition in 2021 from the current with the three sub-conferences VAST, InfoVis, and SciVis to a unified conference with an area model, with the major goals of allowing IEEE VIS to become more integrated and keeping the review process manageable in light of increasing submission numbers. In February 2019, the VIS Executive Committee (VEC) constituted the reVISe committee to work out (among other things) a specific area model proposal, which was ultimately accepted with minor changes by the VEC at the 2019 VIS conference.

The original proposal, including the amended changes, can be found here, and a good summary of the area model, including a detailed description of the areas and a list of frequently asked questions, is already published on ieeevis.org. Furthermore, this page also provides some insights on how the area model stands to affect you as an author, reviewer, or paper chair. The purpose of this post is therefore not to restate this information, but rather to provide additional context.

Goals and Process

The area model reVISe put forward was one of many alternatives considered. In evaluating different models, we took into account a variety of factors, including subject cohesion, area size, reviewer expertise, understandability to the community, and rough balance between areas with regard to likely submission numbers. The development occurred iteratively, and resulted from a combination of data-driven analysis (e.g. detailed estimates of submission numbers per area), grouping of topics, and review-process considerations.

We designed the area model to work with a review process featuring a pair of area papers chairs for each area, who draw reviewers from a single unified program committee. Furthermore, a major design criterion was to keep the delineation of areas ``soft’’, in the sense that typical submission may not fit into exactly one but several areas. We believe this will retain and broaden the existing diversity in terms of topic and contribution types, while avoiding artificial boundaries, and allow a better distribution of expertise across the conference. Therefore, a direct mapping of areas to or from the VAST, InfoVis, and SciVis conferences is not feasible.

A detailed documentation of our process is available in the form of the reVISe public minutes.

Area Model Evaluation and Evolution

In the medium to long term, it is likely that the area model will have to change and evolve, in sync with the evolution of the topics represented at the conference. For example, areas are designed to encompass approximately 100 submissions; areas with fewer than 50 submissions could be considered smaller than sensible, and areas exceeding 150 submissions become too large to be practical. Similarly, the emergence of new topics may require modification of area descriptions to ensure that the latter are sufficiently broad and inclusive. Anticipating the need for changes to the area model, reVISe proposed an Area Curation Committee (ACC), whose mission is to continuously evaluate the area model, identify problems, and propose changes. Ultimately, such changes are subject to approval by the VIS Steering Committee, and are envisioned to occur slowly over multiple years.

To prepare for the introduction of the area model in 2021, and to ensure that the model will work, reVISe conducted a survey among all corresponding authors of VIS 2020 submissions, asking them which area they would have submitted to, and whether they would have considered another area as suitable. While a detailed report is in preparation and will be made available by VIS 2021, initial analysis appears to predict that the area model will work within its design constraints. Furthermore, it appears quite apparent that the timing to subsume the V-I-S trichotomy is excellent, as submitters to all conferences distribute across nearly all areas.

Conclusion

To conclude, we believe that the area model will be a factor towards positive change and cohesion for IEEE VIS by allowing it to overcome the boundaries that have grown over time.

The reVISe committee will also, as in 2019, host a town-hall meeting at VIS 2020 (Thursday Oct 29, 2020; 2pm MT) to answer questions by the community about the upcoming changes. You are also welcome to leave comments or ask questions by joining the #revise Discord channel or e-mailing revise@ieeevis.org.

See you at VIS 2020!

The reVISe committee,

Christoph Garth (chair), Min Chen, Alex Endert, Petra Isenberg, Alexander Lex, Shixia Liu, Anders Ynnerman.

Acknowledgements

We would like to take this opportunity to thank two previous members of the reVISe committee: Tamara Munzner (chair) and Torsten Möller, the 2017-2019 reconstruction committee (Hanspeter Pfister (chair), Hans Hagen, Daniel Keim, Tamara Munzner, Stephen North), the VEC, the VAST, InfoVis, SciVis SCs, VIS2019 and VIS2020 OCs, and everyone who participated in town-halls or gave feedback in some other way!


Things are Changing in 2021: The New VIS Conference

Hello VIS Community!

We’re introducing a blog for IEEE VIS, and we’ll kick off the blog with a series of posts by the reVISe committee to highlight some of the things that will be different at IEEE VIS 2021 and beyond.

Regular attendees of VIS are aware that big changes are coming to VIS in 2021: VIS 2020 will be the last time we will have three separate conferences (VAST, InfoVis, and SciVis). Instead, going forward the content of these three conferences will be under one single conference: IEEE VIS: Visualization & Visual Analytics – or shortened to just IEEE VIS.

In this blog post we briefly introduce the main changes coming, after giving a bit of historical context and rationale and will point to future posts in this series.

A Brief History

IEEE VIS has undergone many changes over its history. Founded in 1990 as the “IEEE Conference on Visualization”, it had a strong focus on topics that would have fit best into today’s SciVis conference. In 1995, the IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization (InfoVis) was held for the first time (the oldest surviving website is from 1996), and in 2005 the IEEE Symposium on Visual Analytics, Science and Technology (VAST) was established. InfoVis and VAST graduated to “conferences” from the “smaller” symposia in 2007 and 2011 respectively (using IEEE’s terminology). In the mid-2000s, VIS began a collaboration with the top journal for visualization research, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG), which now publishes most papers of these three conferences. All of this is well illustrated in this figure based on Isenberg et al.:

See PDF Version

In that time, VIS has grown to a large conference with about 1200 attendees, and became the umbrella conference for longstanding symposia, such as LDAV, VisSec, and VDS, and home to various associated events and workshops.

Whilst the establishment InfoVis and VAST has been the catalyst for the growth of VIS, the three-conference structure has also exhibited some scientific and organizational issues. For example, some similar topics, which are currently distributed in different conferences, could benefit from more synergy if they are joined up; and some newer or smaller topics could be encouraged if they become more visible without being explicitly categorized as VAST, InfoVis, or SciVis.

Restructuring

In 2016, the VIS Executive Committee (VEC) formed a committee to explore alternative conference structures that may enhance vibrancy and growth. To make this as democratic as possible, the committee elicited feedback from the community and held workshops at Dagstuhl and Banff in 2018 and a town-hall event at VIS in 2018.

Based on that committee’s recommendation the reVISe committee was formed in 2019, tasked with making concrete proposals for re-organizing the conference under a single umbrella. This committee then prepared a proposal for unification that was presented to the community at VIS 2019. Following some minor amendments, the proposal was formally adopted by the relevant bodies (VEC, the VAST/InfoVis/SciVis steering committees, and VGTC), a new agreement between VIS and TVCG was developed, and reVISe prepared a Charter for VIS, which has since been approved. The reVISe committee assisted the transition process in 2020. The new structure will be fully implemented for VIS 2021 where the three conferences will be integrated into one.

What will Change?

The changes will affect authors, committee members, and organizers of the conference. Some changes are already visible to the VIS community, such as the creation of the unified short paper track, the new keyword set used in submission and review process, and the establishment of Visualization Steering Committee VSC in place of the three steering committees for VAST, InfoVis, and SciVis.

In VIS 2021, the unified full paper track will include six areas:

  • Area 1: Theoretical and Empirical
  • Area 2: Applications
  • Area 3: Systems and Rendering
  • Area 4: Representations and Interaction
  • Area 5: Data Transformations
  • Area 6: Analytics and Decisions

While each paper will be submitted to a specific area, there will be a single unified program committee pooling all expertise together. The review process of each area will be coordinated by two area paper co-chairs (APCs) and the whole processes will be overseen by three overall paper co-chairs (OPCs). The area model will be reviewed regularly by an Area Curation Committee (ACC).

Why this Change?

The unification is expected to bring about several benefits, including:

  • A coherent external and internal view about the subject of visualization and visual analytics and its areas.
  • A scientific structure that encourages VIS researchers to take up multiple strands of activities in different areas.
  • A consistent experience for authors and reviewers, with a single call for papers and consistent review process for each of the major publication tracks (e.g., VIS-TVCG, short papers, and posters).
  • A simpler topic-venue selection mechanism that is easy to navigate, especially for first-time authors and reviewers of the conference;
  • A better home for work that doesn’t fit neatly into only one of the three conferences.
  • The flexibility of the area model and its systematic review by ACC, which will allow research topics to emerge, grow, and shrink over time without implications to the organizational structure of the conference.
  • Simplifications of the organization structure.

Ultimately, we hope that these changes will aid in unifying, strengthening, and growing our IEEE VIS community.

What’s Next?

We will follow up this introductory post with blog posts about:

  • The area model.
  • The new keywords.
  • The new governance structure of VIS.

The reVISe committee will also, as in 2019, hold another town-hall meeting at VIS 2020 to answer questions by the community about the upcoming changes. You are also welcome to leave comments or ask questions by e-mailing revise@ieeevis.org.

We are looking forward to VIS 2020 and all of the exciting changes to come at VIS 2021!

The reVISe committee,

Christoph Garth (chair), Min Chen, Alex Endert, Petra Isenberg, Alexander Lex, Shixia Liu, Anders Ynnerman.

Acknowledgements

We would like to take this opportunity to thank two previous members of the reVISe committee: Tamara Munzner (chair) and Torsten Möller, the 2017-2019 restructuring committee (Hanspeter Pfister (chair), Hans Hagen, Daniel Keim, Tamara Munzner, Stephen North), the VEC, the VAST, InfoVis, SciVis SCs, VIS2019 and VIS2020 OCs, and everyone who participated in town-halls or gave feedback in some other way!