Visualising Research

bringing public data to life

A competition for designers, graphic artists, software developers, programmers and anyone with an interest in data visualisation

Aligned with the British Library’s Beautiful Science exhibition, February – May 2014

The competition is over now and the winners have been announced: please see the press release.

The challenge

Bringing public data to life

Can you present complex data to tell a compelling story that anyone will be able to understand?

Every year our seven Research Councils, funded by UK tax payers, spend around £3 billion on research that improves lives and the world around us. Research Council funds are awarded on the basis of applications made by researchers, which are subject to independent, expert peer review. Applications are judged by considering a combination of factors, including their scientific excellence, timeliness and promise, strategic relevance, economic and social impacts, industrial and stakeholder relevance, value for money and staff training potential.

Key data from the seven Research Councils are now available from one place - Gateway to Research - enabling anyone to interrogate grants awarded, publications, people and organisations.

The purpose of this challenge is to develop visualisations of the Gateway to Research data that can be easily understood by the public. Displaying these data in an accessible way will also have benefits for a range of sectors, stakeholders including policy makers, other funding bodies and the media.

We are inviting designers, graphic artists, software developers, programmers and anyone with an interest in data visualisation to produce images that will show how this public funding contributes to research in the UK.

The competition

Who can enter

Anyone can enter – either as an individual or with others. You don’t have to be based in the UK. We are looking for strong design elements that get the message across to the public but the data has to be right too. If you are a great designer or a great programmer, you might like to work collaboratively to complement your skills.

The entry

Entries must make use of the Gateway to Research data – there is a link to this resource below. Once you have created your visualisation(s), you will need to provide access to a website – where the visualisation(s) can be viewed. In creating your visualisation(s), complementary data from elsewhere could also be used to make a point, draw comparisons, or provide context – see the examples provided below for ideas.

Other than those requirements, there are no limits – but keep in mind that the aim of the competition is to enable a member of the public to understand how research is supported by the Research Councils.

You will need to complete the entry form:

What we’re looking for

For this competition, we value:

  • Enlightening the general public over targeting niche special-interest groups
  • Use of Open Data over use of proprietary data
  • Open collaborations over entries by individuals
  • Conveyance of accurate and clear information over sensationalism
  • Cross-disciplinary teams (developers, designers, graphic artists, journalists, etc) over single-discipline teams
  • A finished, re-usable, shareable visualisation over a concept or paper prototype

The closing date is 21 March 2014 (17:00 GMT)

The winning entry will be announced on 28 April 2014 and will be awarded a cash prize of £2,000.

The Workshop

We held an introductory workshop at the British Library on Friday 24 January 2014. The presentations are provided below.

Ideas and additional resources

There are plenty of great examples out there to provide inspiration: Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards Longlist 2013


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