The VIS 2021 Area Model

Hello VIS community,

As you are probably aware, IEEE VIS will transition in 2021 from the current with the three sub-conferences VAST, InfoVis, and SciVis to a unified conference with an area model, with the major goals of allowing IEEE VIS to become more integrated and keeping the review process manageable in light of increasing submission numbers. In February 2019, the VIS Executive Committee (VEC) constituted the reVISe committee to work out (among other things) a specific area model proposal, which was ultimately accepted with minor changes by the VEC at the 2019 VIS conference.

The original proposal, including the amended changes, can be found here, and a good summary of the area model, including a detailed description of the areas and a list of frequently asked questions, is already published on Furthermore, this page also provides some insights on how the area model stands to affect you as an author, reviewer, or paper chair. The purpose of this post is therefore not to restate this information, but rather to provide additional context.

Goals and Process

The area model reVISe put forward was one of many alternatives considered. In evaluating different models, we took into account a variety of factors, including subject cohesion, area size, reviewer expertise, understandability to the community, and rough balance between areas with regard to likely submission numbers. The development occurred iteratively, and resulted from a combination of data-driven analysis (e.g. detailed estimates of submission numbers per area), grouping of topics, and review-process considerations.

We designed the area model to work with a review process featuring a pair of area papers chairs for each area, who draw reviewers from a single unified program committee. Furthermore, a major design criterion was to keep the delineation of areas ``soft’’, in the sense that typical submission may not fit into exactly one but several areas. We believe this will retain and broaden the existing diversity in terms of topic and contribution types, while avoiding artificial boundaries, and allow a better distribution of expertise across the conference. Therefore, a direct mapping of areas to or from the VAST, InfoVis, and SciVis conferences is not feasible.

A detailed documentation of our process is available in the form of the reVISe public minutes.

Area Model Evaluation and Evolution

In the medium to long term, it is likely that the area model will have to change and evolve, in sync with the evolution of the topics represented at the conference. For example, areas are designed to encompass approximately 100 submissions; areas with fewer than 50 submissions could be considered smaller than sensible, and areas exceeding 150 submissions become too large to be practical. Similarly, the emergence of new topics may require modification of area descriptions to ensure that the latter are sufficiently broad and inclusive. Anticipating the need for changes to the area model, reVISe proposed an Area Curation Committee (ACC), whose mission is to continuously evaluate the area model, identify problems, and propose changes. Ultimately, such changes are subject to approval by the VIS Steering Committee, and are envisioned to occur slowly over multiple years.

To prepare for the introduction of the area model in 2021, and to ensure that the model will work, reVISe conducted a survey among all corresponding authors of VIS 2020 submissions, asking them which area they would have submitted to, and whether they would have considered another area as suitable. While a detailed report is in preparation and will be made available by VIS 2021, initial analysis appears to predict that the area model will work within its design constraints. Furthermore, it appears quite apparent that the timing to subsume the V-I-S trichotomy is excellent, as submitters to all conferences distribute across nearly all areas.


To conclude, we believe that the area model will be a factor towards positive change and cohesion for IEEE VIS by allowing it to overcome the boundaries that have grown over time.

The reVISe committee will also, as in 2019, host a town-hall meeting at VIS 2020 (Thursday Oct 29, 2020; 2pm MT) to answer questions by the community about the upcoming changes. You are also welcome to leave comments or ask questions by joining the #revise Discord channel or e-mailing

See you at VIS 2020!

The reVISe committee,

Christoph Garth (chair), Min Chen, Alex Endert, Petra Isenberg, Alexander Lex, Shixia Liu, Anders Ynnerman.


We would like to take this opportunity to thank two previous members of the reVISe committee: Tamara Munzner (chair) and Torsten Möller, the 2017-2019 reconstruction committee (Hanspeter Pfister (chair), Hans Hagen, Daniel Keim, Tamara Munzner, Stephen North), the VEC, the VAST, InfoVis, SciVis SCs, VIS2019 and VIS2020 OCs, and everyone who participated in town-halls or gave feedback in some other way!