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Visualisation of the Swiss research inventory

Presenter 1
Andreas Perret
FORS, Swiss Center of Expertise in the Social Sciences

Switzerland has been running a research inventory in the social sciences for the last 20 years. Little has been published on its contents. We choose to explore this dataset using the open source network graphing tool Gephi as well as visualization instruments Sci2 used for scientometry and made available by the University of Indiana (and introduced in a now famous MOOC on information visualization). The first results have shown an interesting picture of the collaboration and financing flows within the country, as well as the limits of the analysis of research abstracts with tools made for an Anglo-American context. Research in Switzerland is described in English, German, French and sometimes Italian with frequent inclusion of foreign expressions. Such situations certainly occur in other countries and we intend to explore ways to solve these issues. Our aim is also to share some of the lessons learned in this work, among which the use of sql queries to build the input data, and also the effects on the visual outputs of choices made while processing the data. In the absence of a proper documentation, these choices turn scientific visualization into black boxes that become a new challenge for the curious scientist.

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