Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Mapping the Messy: Using Visual Noise to Convey Not All Journeys Are Linear


Cite this article:

2022 EPIC Proceedings p 35, ISSN 1559-8918,

In order to communicate research findings, industry researchers rely on a wide range of tools to convey insights. A prime example are visualisations depicting steps in a journey in a sequential order. The use of such a visual representation is often meant to summarise commonalities in a simplified way; they act as a standalone shareable shorthand designed to narrate ‘the experience(s)’.

This PechaKucha instead makes a case for messiness: visual noise aimed to overwhelm. My research on rejection in academic publishing shows that the reality of publishing papers in journals is anything but linear. In order to communicate this message to stakeholders, I set out to paint a vivid picture of endless loops and hoops authors go through to achieve success. This talk is a call for conveying the messy, and an ode to the resilience of academic researchers.

Diagram showing step-by-step what one author's publishing experience was like. Depicted using various (somewhat overly dramatic) curved arrows. The arrows loop around in several places to show the author had to restart the process after both their manuscripts were rejected

Figure 1. Diagram depicting an author’s experience of trying to publish two academic articles. Several loops can be seen: both manuscripts were rejected by their respective journals and the author had to find other journals to resubmit to instead. Credit: Lisa Koeman, Elsevier

Dr Lisa Koeman is a Principal UX Researcher at Elsevier where she is doing research with academic authors, reviewers, and editors around the world. She is a board member for CHI Nederland with the aim of better connecting HCI/UX academics and practitioners. With a background in Human-Computer Interaction she particularly enjoys the intersection of digital services and complex problems.

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