Linking unstructured evidence to structured observations

Manuela Waldner, Thomas Geymayer, Dieter Schmalstieg, Michael Sedlmair
Linking unstructured evidence to structured observations
Information Visualization, January 2021. [preprint]

Information

Abstract

Many professionals, like journalists, writers, or consultants, need to acquire information from various sources, make sense of this unstructured evidence, structure their observations, and finally create and deliver their product, such as a report or a presentation. In formative interviews, we found that tools allowing structuring of observations are often disconnected from the corresponding evidence. Therefore, we designed a sensemaking environment with a flexible observation graph that visually ties together evidence in unstructured documents with the user’s structured knowledge. This is achieved through bi-directional deep links between highlighted document portions and nodes in the observation graph. In a controlled study, we compared users’ sensemaking strategies using either the observation graph or a simple text editor on a large display. Results show that the observation graph represents a holistic, compact representation of users’ observations, which can be linked to unstructured evidence on demand. In contrast, users taking textual notes required much more display space to spatially organize source documents containing unstructured evidence. This implies that spatial organization is a powerful strategy to structure observations even if the available space is limited.

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preprint: accepted version preprint: accepted version

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BibTeX

@article{waldner-2021-leo,
  title =      "Linking unstructured evidence to structured observations",
  author =     "Manuela Waldner and Thomas Geymayer and Dieter Schmalstieg
               and Michael Sedlmair",
  year =       "2021",
  abstract =   "Many professionals, like journalists, writers, or
               consultants, need to acquire information from various
               sources, make sense of this unstructured evidence, structure
               their observations, and finally create and deliver their
               product, such as a report or a presentation. In formative
               interviews, we found that tools allowing structuring of
               observations are often disconnected from the corresponding
               evidence. Therefore, we designed a sensemaking environment
               with a flexible observation graph that visually ties
               together evidence in unstructured documents with the
               user’s structured knowledge. This is achieved through
               bi-directional deep links between highlighted document
               portions and nodes in the observation graph. In a controlled
               study, we compared users’ sensemaking strategies using
               either the observation graph or a simple text editor on a
               large display. Results show that the observation graph
               represents a holistic, compact representation of users’
               observations, which can be linked to unstructured evidence
               on demand. In contrast, users taking textual notes required
               much more display space to spatially organize source
               documents containing unstructured evidence. This implies
               that spatial organization is a powerful strategy to
               structure observations even if the available space is
               limited.",
  month =      jan,
  doi =        "https://doi.org/10.1177/1473871620986249",
  journal =    "Information Visualization",
  keywords =   "mind map, concept map, observation graph, visual links,
               sensemaking",
  URL =        "https://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/research/publications/2021/waldner-2021-leo/",
}