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Visual Network Exploration


Research & VistorianLab

Free Online Coaching Program in Visual and Interactive Network Exploration

Who is this program for? Program Goals What will I be offered by joining the program? Session Content How to Join Info Sessions Who are we? Project background Possible Sessions Scenarios Slack Channel FAQs

Are you performing network analysis or wanting to learn about network exploration using interactive visualisations? Do you have network data you want to visualise and explore? Are you thinking about collecting network data (e.g., from letters, social networks, language models, etc.) and want to learn about the potential of visual exploration?

As part of our ongoing research on supporting network analysis and exploration through visualizations, the VisHub team at the University of Edinburgh https://vishub.net is running a free 1-to-1 online coaching Program on network visualization, to help you understand and perform visual exploration with your network data. This program will support participants through 1-to-1 sessions to support a flexible and self-regulated learning style. Sessions will take place during February and mid of March 2023.

Who is this program for?

You can join our program whether you are at any stage during your exploration process, and we are happy to help and discuss possible pathways how we can best help you:

Program Goals

The goal of our program is to help you with your data collection, formatting, visual exploration as well as the planning of each of these stages. Things we will help you with during the individual sessions:

For further assistance, we designed possible themes that your sessions can follow. For more details about such themes, please scroll down here.

What will I be offered by joining the program?

Each participant will be offered 3 sessions of 30 minutes each. More sessions can be added or extended based on your needs. The sessions will be as following:

All Coaching sessions are:

In addition to individual 1-1 coaching sessions, we offer public Engagement sessions.

An engagement session :

Session Content

Sessions can walk you through (coach) you in all steps of network exploration process, including:

  1. how to describe your data through concept maps/knowledge graphs to understand how data attributes are related and found the basis of visual network exploration.
  2. how to use concept maps/knowledge graphs to create networks , filter your data and explore your data starting from your research question and/or exploration goal.
  3. how to decide on which visualization(s) to explore based on the data described in your concept map/knowledge graph and your research goal.
  4. how to overcome obstacles faced in the data formation process through exploring different possible goal-based data transformation(s) and wrangling options (ex. Extracting nodes and links from historical documents).
  5. how to explore your data interactively thhrough choosing among different exploration strategies whether on the data side or the visualization side.

We will use The Vistorian, an online tool that provides interaction visualizations for networks: node-link diagrams, adjacency matrices, a timeline, and a map. Each visualization provides a complementary view onto network data. This course will assist you in visual network exploration as well as in preparing your network data. The Vistorian offers a number of visualizations that can assist you in exploring data from various backgrounds such as historical, social, biological, business data and much more.

How to join

This coaching program is part of our ongoing research on facilitating network exploration. To participate in the program, we require you to sign a consent form available for download here. In addition to the consent form, the Participant Information Sheet explains the details of our research. By participating in this program you consent to this study and that we may include anonymous observations from our sessions into open access research publications.

You can join at any time during February and sessions can take place between February-March 2023. Each session must be individually booked. The last day where you can book a session is March 17.

Sign up form: click here to register Book sessions: will be provided to those enrolled.

You can book as many sessions as you like. We limit the time for each session to 30 mins. If you wish to discuss longer, please book multiple sessions in a row.

Info Sessions

We run 2 open info sessions on

Who are we?

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are a group of researchers at the VisHub, University of Edinburgh who are offering this course:

Project Background

This project is part of our ongoing research on visualization literacy. Participation requires signing a consent form (LINK HERE). Latest publications:

Possible Sessions Scenarios

The following lists suggestions for topics we can discuss in each session. These might help you ask for specific help and see how we could help you.

Network Visual Exploration for Concept & Tool Learners :

Targeted Audience: newcomers and participants who are intrested in learning the concept of network visual exploration or the Vistorian as a tool. Such participants are expected to have neither datasets nor research goals.

The session covers the following topics:

Network Visual Exploration for Data Collectors :

Targeted Audience: participants with a limited background in networks visual exploration and are intrested in knowing how to collect data for their own research. Their research goals and questions should be a bit in a shape to use them in knowing what data to collect through the session. Such participants are expected to have research goal(s)/question(s) but without collected data so far.

The session covers the following topics:

Network Visual Exploration for Guided Exploration :

Targeted Audience: participants who have their data ready along with research goals and are intrested in exploring different aspects of their networks. Such participants are expected to have both dataset(s) and clear research goals.

The session covers the following topics:

Network Visual Exploration for Free-Form Exploration :

Targeted Audience: participants who are intrested in knowing different aspects of visual network exploration and different strategies. Such participants are expected to have neither dataset(s) but with no specific research goals.

The session covers the following topics:

Slack Channel

We invite you to The Vistorian slack channel for questions, open discussions on the Vistorian and on how can we use exploratory and interactive visualizations, and updates, please join us on : The Vistorian Slack Channel


How does the Vistorian handle my data?

While The Vistorian is a web application, i.e., it runs in your browser, your data will remain on your machine and will not be transmitted to any other machine. Consequently, you do not need any login but also you cannot share your visualizations with colleagues.

Are you gathering any usage data?

Please refer to the ethics forms approved by the ethics committee at University of Edinburgh for a detailed description on how we handle your data. You can find detailed description of the ethics forms here:

If we do not download software, does that mean The Vistorian will hold and have access to our data?

The Vistorian stores all of your data on the user’s own machine. As The Vistorian is a web application, i.e., it runs in your browser, your data will remain on your machine and will not be transmitted to any other machine.

Can The Vistorian handle data held in a GEDCOM file?

The current version does not support GEDCOM files. This feature might be added in the near future, but as a workaround GEDCOM files can be converted to CSV and used with the Vistorian.

Can I join the course without my own dataset? Will you have a demo dataset to play with? As I minted to collect network data soon but would like to see what visualization I can do.

Yes, a demo dataset shall be provided to participants who do not have their own dataset. Priority is for those who have their own dataset to work on, however we will keep in consideration participants with/without datasets.

The Vistorian can handle up to 5000 links graphs, what matters actually is the number of links. However, it might degrade the interactivity and response as the graph size goes up to such a number. Due the fact that all graph data is stored on the user’s machine (browser’s local storage) which has a limited space.