Designing with data in mind
: designer perceptions on visualising data within editorial information design practice

  • Panagiotis Galanis

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research identifies and addresses a critical knowledge gap on the discipline o feditorial information design, a new area of data visualisation within the editorial lenvironment. Due to the paucity of literature of the specific area at the moment of writing, this study aims to bring explicitness to design practices that remain, in research terms, largely unexplored.

Literature supporting the emergent research, was examined from two key areas. Firstly by investigating general design theory and principles from well-developed design fields, and secondly by examining selected material from the established area of information design, reviewing essential concepts of information visualisation. With both areas combined, this ensured breadth and depth of research perspective and sensitised the researcher on critical issues later used to evaluate emerging material.

To fulfil the aims of the study, interviewing was the primary method of data acquisition, with the Grounded Theory Method the selected methodology to analyse the data, as it was perceived as the most effective to capture tacit and empirical knowledge and connect it with practitioner activity. As a qualitative method it consists of practices that interpret data and makes the world visible, encouraging the researchers to be active and engaged analysts, utilising abductive reasoning on findings, even during the data collection. This effect informs and advances both areas as through forming iterative process, the abstract level is raised and analysis is intensified.

The material highlighted the tacit, embedded in the act of designing, knowledge that practitioners of editorial information design possessed, informing the observed knowledge gap. The combined material was coded, juxtaposed, and refined through multiple analytic cycles, seeking emergent elements of critical activity of editorial information design, with the potential to define practice.

The outcomes of the analysis are presented in structured form: emerging codes construct themes of designer activity, delineating essential operations and producing in-depth descriptions grounded on empirical data. Cross-theme conceptual structures also emerge through further analysis, as abstract categories that capture designer operations in continuity and offer insight on how practice transitions between key stages.

This study concludes with the presentation of a set of grounded theories, elucidating areas of editorial information design absent from the existing literature. While previously the design area remained obscure and implicit, leaving a lot to speculation,through this study key areas and activities become visible: elements directly associated with tacit designer action and design epistemology become explicit, revealing and defining the area under investigation.
Date of AwardSept 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorJenny Walden (Supervisor), Michael Harkins (Supervisor) & Michele-Anne Dauppe (Supervisor)

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