Call for submissions on data visualisations and policymaking

Call for submissions for a special issue on the theme of “Data Visualisations & Policymaking”

William Allen (University of Oxford); Verity Trott (Monash University); Kathryn Nash (University
of Edinburgh)

Abstracts for articles: 31 May 2020
Decisions announced by 15 June 2020

We are witnessing a proliferation of data visualisations – defined by a leading visualiser as ‘the presentation and representation of data to facilitate understanding’ (Andy Kirk, 2016: 19). There has been significant research (notably Cukier and Mayer-Schonberger’s 2013 book) drawing attention to the limitations particularly of big data and new data sources, yet despite these concerns we are seeing an increasing popularity of data visualisations in policy debates. Visualisation can simplify data and convey a rhetoric of neutrality making them powerful conduits for the spread of information. It is these same characteristics that can make data visualisation dangerous for the spread of misinformation, the misrepresentation of data, and the erasure of key information that is absent from the data or that does not translate well into the logic of visualisation or datafication. It is imperative then to ask: How and in what circumstances do data visualisations shape policy and how are they simultaneously influenced by the demands and constraints that exist within policy and the political, social and cultural climates more broadly? We frame this special issue by asking how do data visualisations relate to the domain of policymaking across multiple topics.

The purpose of this special issue is to provoke a reflection and consideration of what forms of knowledge, and epistemologies more broadly, are privileged in a world that is increasingly preoccupied with datafication and data visualisations. Is this a particularly effective way to convey data or are we being swept up in a trend that may not be conveying our data in the ways we understand? With these themes and questions in mind, we ask for article abstracts to address the following:

• How are data politics present in data visualisation?
• How do data visualisation and policymaking inform and relate to each other?
• What is ‘effective’ policy impact, and to what extent does (or can) data visualisation achieve this?
• What are best practices in data visualisation?
• How has data visualisation been used to influence policy (in any field), and how has policy
influenced the use and practice of sharing academic findings?

This special issue call is part of a project supported by seed funding from the British Academy, and we
expect to hold a workshop to support its publication. If the COVID-19 crisis continues to prevent travel,
then we will hold a digital forum, and any accepted participant may participate in the forum remotely if they are unable to travel.

We recognise that the current crisis has brought unprecedented workloads and caring obligations, and we are concerned about recent journal submission data showing a widening gender gap. We will accept multiauthor submissions that allow for burden sharing. Furthermore, if you would like to be a part of this but are concerned about workload and caring responsibilities, please submit a proposal and let us know what article length and deadlines would be feasible.

Submission Details
Please send a 300 word abstract with a 100-word author bio to the following address by 31 May, 2020:

Completed articles should be 6,000 – 8,000 words and article drafts will be expected to be completed by 15 September, 2020.