University Shield Gwyddor Cyfrifiadur

The PhD in Visualization Starter Kit (PVSK)

The Visual and Interactive Computing Group,
Computer Science Department, Swansea University

Starter Kit

Robert S. Laramee
Announcement: Would you like us to come and deliver the PVSK as a tutorial or workshop at your insitution? If so, just let us know.

The PhD in Visualization Starter Kit (PVSK) was presented at the IEEE VisWeek 2010, Tuesday 26 October 2010, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

The PhD in Visualization Starter Kit (PVSK) was presented at the Information Visualization (IV) 3rd Doctoral Research Workshop, Monday 26th July 2010, London South Bank University, London, UK. All doctoral students (in the area) are welcome! This is an opportunity for you to present your research at any stage of your PhD. You will benefit from feedback on your work and methodology from a combined industry & research panel. Find out more at:


Writing a PhD is difficult. And those that are just starting a PhD in visualization have not usually acquired all of the key skills necessary for completion since they are not normally taught as part of an undergraduate curriculum. For example, how does a researcher navigate through the vast amounts of previously published literature related to their topic? Furthermore, for some, this may be their first time implementing a larger, long-term project. Developing a large software application requires more knowledge than implementing a small one. Given, a larger sized visualization application, how can bugs and problems be tracked down and eliminated? And what is a good starting point when it comes time to writing a research paper?

We present some of the essential skills that a PhD candidate in Visualization acquires during their study including (1) reading and (2) writing research papers as well as (3) implementing and (4) debugging software. We hope that the guidelines presented here will help jump-start the new researcher's journey towards a PhD in visualization. ( intro slides )

Step 0: If your meetings don't follow a protocol, here is one you can use.
Bob's Minutes of Meeting Protocol ( PDF file )
Step 1: Use this manuscript to help navigate through the vast amount of research literature.
How to Read a Visualization Research Paper: Extracting the Essentials, in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications (IEEE CG&A), Vol. 31, No. 3, May/June 2011, pages 78-82 ( PDF file, slides )

"How to Read a Visualization Paper: Extracting the Essentials" is featured on the front cover of IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications (IEEE CG & A) Volume 31, Number 3 May/June 2011 (pages 78-82). This article is also highlighted on Non Profit, one of the world s most respected sources of news, information, and opinion for the online nonprofit community. It provides a stream of news and resources related to emerging issues in the nonprofit world, with a particular emphasis on communication and new technology. Here's the link to the article.

Step 2: Follow these guidelines while you implement your ideas.
Bob's Concise Coding Conventions (C3) , in Advances in Computer Science and Engineering (ACSE), Vol. 4, No. 1, February 2010, pages 23-36 ( PDF file , slides )
Step 3: These techniques will help you debug your software.
Using Visualization to Debug Visualization Software, in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications (IEEE CG&A), Vol. 20, No. 6, Nov/Dec 2010, pages 67-73 ( PDF file, slides ) "I enjoyed reading this paper... I will strongly recommend it to all my students." -Jarke J. van Wijk, Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE).

"Using Visualization to Debug Visualization Software" is highlighted in the December 2010 issue of Computing Now-( ) a web site featuring content from the IEEE Computer Society's peer-reviewed publications. The article is referenced in the Computing Now newsletter ( which reaches more than 76,000 subscribers. Here's the link to the article.

Step 4: Read this manuscript when it's time to write your first research paper.
How To Write A Visualization Research Paper: A Starting Point in Computer Graphics Forum (CGF), Vol. 29, No. 8, 2010, pages 2363-2371 ( PDF file )

The CGF version of the manuscript is based on one that appeared at EG 2009:
How to Write a Visualization Research Paper: The Art and Mechanics, in EUROGRAPHICS 2009, Education Papers, pages 59-66, 30 March - 3 April 2009, Munich, Germany (selected as one of the two best education papers) ( PDF file, slides )

The PVSK is currently (or has been) used at the following institutions:
  1. Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Mississippi State University, Mississippi
  2. Department of Computer Science, Boise State University, Idaho
  3. Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Polytechnic Institute of New York University
  4. The Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum fuer InformationsTechnik, Berlin, Germany (ZIB)
  5. The Institute for Computer Information Systems and Computer Media (IICM), Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), Graz, Austria,
  6. The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e),
  7. Earth Science Communication, National University of Mexico (UNAM), University City, Mexico,
  8. The Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research (IGD), Darmstadt, Germany,
  9. Department of Mediamatics, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Delft, The Netherlands. Delft even has its own excellent DelftVis Starter Kit (DVSK).
  10. School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon,
  11. Department of Computer Science, Swansea University, Wales, UK.

This page is maintained by Robert S. Laramee.
In case of comments, questions, suggestions, or collaboration ideas, send email to: r.s.laramee "at"

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional