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Executive Summary

Overview Report

Main Report

Bibliographic History

Review of Visualization in the Social Sciences: Overview Report

Overview Report


A review of visualization in the Social Sciences is not the simplest of academic exercises to complete because there is no generally accepted definition of either "visualization", or "social science". For the purposes of this review we see visualization as offering "a method for seeing the unseen" (McCormick et al., 1987) in the same spirit as the McCormick et al. (1987) classic report. We see social sciences as being those academic subjects most usually assigned to social science faculties in British universities: economics, geography, politics and sociology; but for this review we also include planning, psychology, history and social statistics.

The need for a review of visualization in the social sciences was first made almost a decade ago:

"The general consensus in the scientific visualization field is that a broad commonality exists among the visual needs of all numerically intensive sciences. ...we are keenly awaiting its applications to fields with a shorter history in numerical computing, such as econometrics and the social sciences. Will users from these fields find this environment appropriate to their needs?" (Upson et al., 1989)

It is this question that this review seeks to answer.

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