Introduction to Visualization Principles

MLA Course
Listing Archived: Thursday, April 5, 2018

Primary contact information...
University of Michigan
1135 E. Catherine St
Ann Arbor MI , 48109-5726
United States
Marci Brandenburg is the primary contact.
Region: Midwest

Description: Visualization can be a powerful tool for discovery, data analysis, and presentation. Due to the great amounts of data being generated in the health sciences, data visualization is becoming more popular, and libraries are finding their niche in the visualization landscape. This course will provide an introduction to visualization principles, including design principles, different types of visualization, and the role of the library. Several visualization tools will be briefly discussed. The goal of this course is to get attendees thinking about the principles and concepts behind creating a good visualization. After taking this course, participants will have a better understanding of data visualization principles and will be better prepared for engaging in conversations with researchers interested in visualization.

Experience Level: Beginning
CE Contact Hours: 4
Professional Competencies: Research + Analysis and Interpretation
Subject: Research
Course Type: Face to Face

Educational Objective: -Participants will gain an understanding of basic visualization terminology and design principles -Participants will learn about some visualization tools -Participants will learn about and discuss visualization services offered by the library


Visualization landscape
 -What is visualization? (Attendee Activity)
  -Using the Liberating Structure ( ls.html) Mad Tea ( model: engage attendees in discussion to define visualization;
    -Ask the question: What is visualization?
    -Attendees discuss this in pairs setup in concentric circles 
    -Attendees report out to the group
  -Provide sample definition
 -Digital vs non-digital
  -Visualization can involve high performance computing, but can also be hand-drawn 
   -Example: Mark Lombardi hand-drawn network  contrasted with real-time wind map
 -Goals of data visualization
 -Reasons for visualizing data
 -Anscombe’s Quartet  (Attendee Activity); using the Liberating Structure (  1-2-4-all ( model, engage attendees in discussing the four data sets in Anscombe’s quartet;
  -Ask the question: What are the similarities and differences between the data?
  -Attendees reflect on this silently
  -Attendees then share with a partner
  -Attendees report out to the group
Different types of visualization	
  -Simple: bar graphs, scatter plot, pie chart
  -Network graphs
 -Volumetric visualization
  -Example: MRI  (collects data in layers to “see” inside in non-invasive way)
 -Map-based visualization
  -Example: John Snow’s cholera outbreak map
 -Create understanding that most people already engage in some visualization creation using Excel, etc.
 -2D vs 3D
Roles of libraries in visualization  (Attendee Activity); using the Liberating Structure 25/10 Crowdsourcing (
 -Ask the question:  "What should the role of libraries be regarding visualization?"
 -Attendees write the answer on a notecard
 -Notecards are passed around and scored by different individuals
 -Report out to the group the highest scored responses
Design principles
 -Provide an example visualization and engage in a group discussion about what is good and bad about a specific example
 -Important principles to think about when designing a visualization
  -Visual Assumptions
Visualization Tools
 -Provide tool description
  -Pros and cons
  -Visual example
  -Ask attendees about familiarity with the tool 
 -Example tools may include Tableau Public, Cytoscape, InteractiVenn, Microsoft Excel/Google sheets, Asciiflow
Library role and services
 -What can you do at your institution? (Attendee Activity); using the Liberating Structure 15% Solutions (
  -Ask attendees: What could you do right now related to visualization and/or visualization services? What is your 15 percent? Where do you have discretion and freedom to act? What can you do without more resources or authority?
  -Attendees reflect on this silently 
  -Attendees then share in small groups
  -Attendees report out to the entire group
 -Library Services
   -seminar-style for design principles, good data management, etc
   -hands-on for specific visualization tools
  -Finding and manipulating data
[(optional interactive activity depending on time)Liberating Structure (25/10 Crowdsourcing):  "What is your biggest concern or obstacle to offering visualization services?"]
 -Capture information collected during activities to be shared with all attendees

Need for This Course: A search in PubMed on the keyword “visualization” has demonstrated an increase in the number of articles in the past 5 years from 3277 in 2011 to over 5000 in 2016 which indicates the growing importance of visualization in the health sciences disciplines.

The instructional methods used include Lecture, Slides, Discussion, Brainstorming, and Sharing/Self-disclosure.

Participant Materials: Handouts with slides for note taking

Facility Requirements: Projector, flip pads and markers, internet