Characterizing Grounded Theory Approaches in Visualization

Alexandra Diehl, Alfie Abdul-Rahman, Benjamin Bach, Mennatallah El-Assady, Matthias Kraus, Robert S. Laramee, Daniel A. Keim, Min Chen

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Grounded theory (GT) is a research methodology that entails a systematic workflow for theory generation grounded on emergent data. In this paper, we juxtapose GT workflows with typical workflows in visualization and visual analytics, shortly VIS, and underline the characteristics shared by these workflows. We explore the research landscape of VIS to observe where GT has been applied to generate VIS theories, explicitly as well as implicitly. We propose a "why" typology for characterizing aspects in VIS where GT can potentially play a significant role. We outline a "how" methodology for conducting GT research in VIS, which addresses the need for theoretical advancement in VIS while benefitting from other methods and techniques in VIS. We exemplify this "how" methodology by adopting GT approaches in studying the messages posted on VisGuides - an Open Discourse Forum for discussing visualization guidelines.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2022


  • Human-centered computing
  • Visualization theory
  • concepts and paradigms


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