An Exploration of Practice and Preferences for the Visual Communication of Biomedical Processes


The visual communication of biomedical processes draws from diverse techniques in both visualization and biomedical illustration. However, matching these techniques to their intended audience often relies on practice-based heuristics or narrow-scope evaluations. We present an exploratory study of the criteria that audiences use when evaluating a biomedical process visualization targeted for communication. Designed over a series of expert interviews and focus groups, our study focuses on common communication scenarios of five well-known biomedical processes and their standard visual representations. We framed these scenarios in a survey with participant expertise spanning from minimal to expert knowledge of a given topic. Our results show frequent overlap in abstraction preferences between expert and non-expert audiences, with similar prioritization of clarity and the ability of an asset to meet a given communication objective. We also found that some illustrative conventions are not as clear as we thought, e.g., glows have broadly ambiguous meaning, while other approaches were unexpectedly preferred, e.g., biomedical illustrations in place of data-driven visualizations. Our findings suggest numerous opportunities for the continued convergence of visualization and biomedical illustration techniques for targeted visualization design. Best Paper Honorable Mention at VCBM 2021

Proceedings of VCBM