Published in Journal of the American Society for Information Systems and Technology 60, 11 (November 2009), 2219-2228.
Gaining a rapid overview of an emerging scientific topic, sometimes called research fronts, is an increasingly common task due to the growing amount of interdisciplinary collaboration occurring across fields. Visual overviews that show temporal patterns of paper publication and citation links among papers can help researchers and analysts to see the rate of growth of topics, identify key papers, and understand influences across sub-disciplines. This paper applies a novel network visualization tool based on meaningful layouts of nodes to present research fronts and show citation links that indicate influences across research fronts. The two-dimensional layouts with multiple regions and user control of link visibility enable rapid exploration. We assess the value of our tool for this application by conducting a case study with six domain experts over a four-month period. The main benefits were being able (1) to easily identify key papers and see the increasing number of papers within a research front and (2) to quickly see the strength and direction of influence across related research fronts.