Collaborative visualization: Definition, challenges, and research agenda

Petra Isenberg, Niklas Elmqvist, Jean Scholtz, Daniel Cernea, Kwan-Liu Ma, Hans Hagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


The conflux of two growing areas of technology - collaboration and visualization - into a new research direction, collaborative visualization, provides new research challenges. Technology now allows us to easily connect and collaborate with one another - in settings as diverse as over networked computers, across mobile devices, or using shared displays such as interactive walls and tabletop surfaces. Digital information is now regularly accessed by multiple people in order to share information, to view it together, to analyze it, or to form decisions. Visualizations are used to deal more effectively with large amounts of information while interactive visualizations allow users to explore the underlying data. While researchers face many challenges in collaboration and in visualization, the emergence of collaborative visualization poses additional challenges, but it is also an exciting opportunity to reach new audiences and applications for visualization tools and techniques. The purpose of this article is (1) to provide a definition, clear scope, and overview of the evolving field of collaborative visualization, (2) to help pinpoint the unique focus of collaborative visualization with its specific aspects, challenges, and requirements within the intersection of general computer-supported cooperative work and visualization research, and (3) to draw attention to important future research questions to be addressed by the community. We conclude by discussing a research agenda for future work on collaborative visualization and urge for a new generation of visualization tools that are designed with collaboration in mind from their very inception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-326
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Visualization
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • Collaboration
  • Computer-supported cooperative work
  • Teamwork
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition


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