Designing the VIS Governance Model


The motivation for why the reVISe Committee was struck is to provide a unified and inclusive venue for the visualization community. It is a result of the growth of the community over the years, in terms of numbers, but also diversity of intellectual contribution types.

Previously, contribution types were neatly categorized into separate conferences or symposia at IEEE VIS (or even VisWeek prior to that). This required authors of the content to make decisions about which community to send specific papers to. However, through the growth of the visualization community, these boundaries became less clear. Further, the addition of new and emerging areas would further fragment the community. In response, reVISe proposed a unified governance model for visualization and visual analytics research.

The idea behind the governance model is based on a study and in-depth discussion of various governance models used in other contexts ranging from societal governance to company management and academic administration of research and conferences. Some fundamental ambitions and principles derived were:

  1. Transparency to outside observers of decisions and information flow
  2. Delegation of mandate follows responsibility (if you’re responsible, you also have decision power)
  3. Definition of a hierarchy of bodies with a ratification process to ensure acceptance and validity of decisions.
  4. Division of long term policy from operation of yearly instances of the conference.
  5. A large scale scope and synergy between research areas to avoid formation of silos but still operation with areas of manageable size
  6. Stable but dynamic committees by relying on experienced community members for strategic decision roles, but still allow for rejuvenation of governance structure by promoting roles for junior researchers

After in-depth and long discussions on various governance models an overall structure began to emerge. The starting point was the definition of a senior steering committee which carries the long term responsibility and decides on strategies and policies. The operation of the annual conference is the responsibility of the executive committee. The relation between the bodies in the governance model also relies on chain of proposal, decision and ratification. This makes it possible to have a model that builds on delegation of mandate and initiatives and still ensures consensus within the whole structure. It also creates transparency in decisions and appointments.

VIS Governance Overview

Some of the critical design choices are related to the role of the program committee and the curation of the areas. After a long discussion we decided to have a unified program committee for all of VIS. The main benefit of this setup is that PC members will be available to review across multiple areas and it also prevents formation of reviewing silos. The main challenge here is of course the management of the PC and the assignment of manuscripts. A consequence of the unified PC was also the need to appoint overall program chairs to coordinate the work of area program chairs and ensure that the same policy applies to all areas and assist the chairs in any overall matters arising in working with the area model.

Another important new committee in the governance structure is the area curation committee. The whole new model depends on wise, clear and dynamic definitions of areas. In view of this we decided to propose a separate committee to monitor and propose changes to the ara model. Here we have to rely on members of our community with deep insights in the field and also with foresight to have an agile approach to new topics of interest.

It is our hope that the new governance structure will serve our community well for many years to come and provide the foundation needed to let VIS thrive and generate impact far beyond the boundaries of the community.

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 !


An earlier version of this post mistakenly contained an incorrect depiction of the governance structure.