Studying Visualization Guidelines According to Grounded Theory


Visualization guidelines, if defined properly, are invaluable to both practical applications and the theoretical foundation of visualization. In this paper, we present a collection of research activities for studying visualization guidelines according to Grounded Theory (GT). We used the discourses at VisGuides, which is an online discussion forum for visualization guidelines, as the main data source for enabling data-driven research processes as advocated by the grounded theory methodology. We devised a categorization scheme focusing on observing how visualization guidelines were featured in different threads and posts at VisGuides, and coded all 248 posts between September 27, 2017 (when VisGuides was first launched) and March 13, 2019. To complement manual categorization and coding, we used text analysis and visualization to help reveal patterns that may have been overlooked by the manual effort and summary statistics. To facilitate theoretical sampling and negative case analysis, we completed an in-depth analysis of the 148 posts (with both questions and replies) related to a student assignment from a visualization course. Inspired by two discussion threads at VisGuides, we conducted two controlled empirical studies to collect further data to validate specific visualization guidelines. Through these activities guided by grounded theory, we have obtained a number of new findings about visualization guidelines.

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