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How Visible-Meta Relates To My PhD

My background is that of a visual artist, having carried a camera bag on my shoulder since I was about 15 when I would buy and roll my own film. I got a degree at the Chelsea School of Art and studied Advertising at Syracuse University. It’s safe to say that my perspective leans heavily towards the visual. However, in my investigation to make the citation process more visual I came up against real limitations:

Augmenting Literature Reviews

My PhD concerns augmenting a student’s ability to do a literature review and to demonstrate to a supervisor that it was done to a satisfactory degree, which was expected to be a primarily visual exercise.

There were several limitations found in the course of experimenting and reading about different ways to visualise citations and these have shifted the focus from a visual interaction to improving the infrastructure in order to allow for better citation handling interactions followed by a new citation visualisation made possible by dealing with the infrastructure limitations:


Infrastructure Limitations

Having looked at and worked with citations it has become clear that citation visualisations can only work when the citation information is known to the user and downloadable documents are woefully inadequate at telling the system how they are connected to the wider world. Therefore citation analysis tends to be for specifically artificial subsets of the available citable documents.

My aim is that the Visible-Meta approach will alleviate this.


Interaction Limitations

As a consequence of the infrastructure limitations, the act of adding a citation to a document is cumbersome unless one uses a third party management system which exists in a silo. Checking citations is also cumbersome, with very little use of hypertextual surfacing techniques for links, previews and so on.

I therefore feel that working on a way to easily remove the infrastructure limitation in a way which is reasonable to expect to have implemented because of the clear end user (student, teacher, publisher and author) benefits, is where I should be putting my effort. This will also allow me to work on visualisations which are directly relevant to the user and not separate boxed presentations.


Visualisation Limitations

Furthermore there are inherent issues with citation space visualisations, as citation spaces do not map onto real-world attributes other than time and, geographic space though the latter is only of specialist interest. Discussions of visualisation techniques using graphical bubbles and lines show how these can remain abstract and not directly useful:


Graphed Overview

Below is an overview built in the Dynamic View in Liquid | Author while working on the nature of a manuscript (as defined as the document an author is working on) and the published Document and asking how the Visual-Meta approach can improve in the process.

Questions being addressed for the Visual-Meta. In order to support the citation process:

  • What should be encoded from manuscript into published document.
  • How can the encoding serve a student and teacher.
  • How should the information from a published document transfer into a future manuscript through citations and other meta-information
  • How should annotations be handled in this document environment

And then how can this support citation interaction and analysis in a Dynamic View


Core Visualisation Insight

Chosen citations are very different from citations ‘in the wild’. By this I mean that the attributes and meta-information of a document does not change when an author decides to possibly cite it but it becomes different to the author; Instead of a small point in a large ‘cloud’ of data it becomes a curated nugget of information.

As such, the large scale citation views discussed above, under Visualisation Limitations, become very different from the views of a users citations where they have already been chosen. There are less of the chosen citations and they have more meaning and they are all better understood by the author. They now also have become sources for the justification of assertions and origins of terms used and as such can benefit from being presented alongside concepts or key terms.

This is why I am working on how to add citations to the Dynamic View, where the immediate issue is one of clutter and mapping out exactly what should be shown.


Published inPhDThoughts

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