Innovations in Visualization

Grounded Evaluation of Information Visualizations

Petra Isenberg
Torre Zuk
Christopher Collins
Sheelagh Carpendale


We introduce grounded evaluation as a process that attempts to ensure that the evaluation of an information visualization tool is situated within the context of its intended use. We discuss the process and scope of grounded evaluation in general, and then describe how qualitative inquiry may be a beneficial approach as part of this process. We advocate for increased attention to the field of qualitative inquiry early in the information visualization development life cycle, as it tries to achieve a richer understanding by using a more holistic approach considering the interplay between factors that influence visualizations, their development, and their use. We present three case studies in which we successfully used observational techniques to inform our understanding of the visual analytics process in groups, medical diagnostic reasoning, and visualization use among computational linguists.


Petra Isenberg, Torre Zuk, Christopher Collins and Sheelagh Carpendale. Grounded Evaluation of Information Visualizations. In BELIV 2008: Proceedings of the CHI Workshop Beyond Time and Errors: Novel Evaluation Methods for Information Visualization. ACM Press, pages 56-63, 2008. PDF Paper