Call for Visual Data Storytelling Contest Entries

The PacificVis Storytelling Contest celebrates its fifth year in 2021. The purpose of this contest is to encourage researchers, designers, and media artists to demonstrate the value of visualization through effective visual data storytelling, as a way to promote innovative and effective use of visualization for communicating and explaining ideas.

This contest is inspired by trends in data storytelling, narrative visualizations, explanatory visualizations, and visual essays. Potential contest entrants are encouraged to review the following events and venues for inspiration.
  • The Tapestry Conference
  • The Information is Beautiful Awards
  • The Malofiej Infographics World Summit
  • The Pudding
  • NYT Graphics
  • Explorable Explanations
  • Google News Lab
  • Entries from previous contests (2017-2020): link

  • As well as the following papers:
  • Narrative Visualization: Telling Stories with Data (Segel and Heer, IEEE InfoVis 2010)
  • Storytelling: The Next Step for Visualization (Kosara and Mackinlay, IEEE Computer 2013)
  • Visualization Rhetoric: Framing Effects in Narrative Visualization (Hullman and Diakopoulos, IEEE InfoVis 2013)
  • Understanding Data Videos: Looking at Narrative Visualization Through the Cinematography Lens (Amini et al., ACM CHI 2015)
  • More than Telling a Story: Transforming Data into Visually Shared Stories (Lee et al., IEEE CG&A 2015)

  • And videos
  • Once Upon a Time: From Data to Stories (John Schwabish @ Socrata Connect 2017)
  • Animation, Pacing, and Exposition (Tony Chu @ OpenVisConf 2016)
  • Where's Larry? Bringing Data to Life Through Story (Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic @ Tapestry Conference 2017)

  • PacificVis is a unified visualization symposium, welcoming all areas of visualization such as: information, scientific, graph, security, and software visualization. Storytellers are invited to submit visual data-driven stories that draw upon any of these areas. In addition, entries that focus on computational journalism and artistic design projects are encouraged. Unlike contests such as the VAST challenge or the SciVis Contest, the data for the PacificVis visual data storytelling contest is intentionally left unspecified; storytellers are free to choose any publicly-available dataset(s). Similarly, the task that storytellers are to accomplish is to successfully communicate a message or series of messages (i.e., a narrative, a series of insights) using visualization techniques and supported by the underlying data. The themes of the story can draw from any topic, including current affairs, history, natural disasters, and research findings from the sciences and humanities.

    Entries may be submitted by teams or individuals, and from both industry and academia alike. Conference sponsors can participate non-competitively. Submissions must fulfill the requirements explained below.


    Submissions can take several forms:
  • Infographic: A collection of images and charts that convey a story using engaging visual designs.
  • Data comic: A collection of images and visualizations that tells a story in the style of a comic book.
  • Video: An animation that tells a data-driven story using visualizations. Note that video submissions that appear to be tutorials or demonstrations of a visualization tool will not be considered; the focus of the submission must be a visual narrative about the data, not a visualization tool or technique.
  • Explainable articles: Interactive articles, markups, and notebooks that guide the reader through a narrative using text and visualizations. Examples of explainable notebook platforms include Distill, Idyll, and Observable.
  • Website: An interactive web page that guides the user through the story. Note that purely analytic or exploratory visualization tools/dashboards that do not provide guidance or storytelling to the user will not be considered. The winning entry in the 2017 contest is an excellent example of a website entry: link.
  • Unconventional Forms: Other forms of interactive storytelling work, such as virtual/augmented reality, mixed reality and other audio-visual projects, are also encouraged to submit as well. A video is likely the best way to do the initial submission. For unconventional entries that are accepted, we will work with the artists/authors to decide the best possible way to exhibit the work at the conference.

  • Other requirements:
  • The story must feature at least one programmatically-generated visual representation of data; visual representations of data generated by manual illustration (e.g., on paper, using illustration software) are allowed; however, these representations must be used in conjunction with programmatically-generated visual representations of data. Such programmatically-generated visual representation(s) should be the authors' own work, using techniques or tools created by the authors. Third party techniques or applications may be used in conjunction with the authors' own work as long as proper credit is given to their respective creators and it is made clear which aspects of the implementation represent the authors' own work.
  • The entries must be original data-driven stories that have not been previously published elsewhere.
  • The dataset(s) used in the story must be publicly available, and linked to, sourced, or otherwise referenced.
  • Submissions must be in English.
  • A 150-word abstract (entered on the PCS submission website) that briefly describes the data analysis and design process undertaken by the storyteller(s). The abstract should not include the message(s) communicated by the story; the story must stand alone in this regard such that a viewer should not need to read the abstract to understand the story.
  • Supplementary materials are encouraged. For example, high-resolution images, videos, or audio files will help reviewers evaluate the submission.
  • For the accepted entries we expect the following additional requirements:
    • A brief demo video describing the submission. (Exact details will be sent out to accepted entries.)
    • At least one member of the team must register for the conference and be present at the contest's sessions and award ceremony.
  • Submission

    Submit online through the new Precision Conference System at the PacificVis 2021 Storytelling Contest track.

  • Static entries such as infographics and data comics should be submitted in PDF format.
  • Videos should be in mp4, avi, or mov format, with a maximum file size of 100 MB.
  • Explainable articles and websites can be directly uploaded as source code (eg, html and supporting files) that are zipped together. Such entries should be directly runnable in a browser without having to download or install packages/libraries/etc.
  • Alternatively, if you have an online version of your submission, you can directly add the URL in the abstract field.
  • Either a link or document is required for a complete submission. (Submitting both is also allowed.)

    Important Dates

    All dates are midnight PST (Pacific Standard Time).

  • Submission deadline: February 1st, 2021
  • Notification date: February 25, 2021
  • Final submission: March 11, 2021
  • Reviewing and Awards

    A jury of visualization and data storytelling experts will carefully judge each submission and make the selection of accepted entries. Successful entries will effectively communicate a narrative, message(s), or insight(s) using visual representations of data. Each judge assigned to a submission will give the submission a score from 1 to 5, and they will be asked the following questions:

  • Is this work relevant to the PacificVis Data Storytelling Contest?
  • Is the story original (i.e, not previously published elsewhere)?
  • Is the story engaging and interesting?
  • Is the narrative point or message of the story clearly discernible? Are insights clearly communicated?
  • Are data sources adequately referenced?
  • Are data sources publicly available?
  • Does the story feature at least one programmatically-generated visual representation of data?
  • Is it clear which aspects of the story represents the author(s)'own work, using techniques or tools created by the authors?
  • Is proper credit given to the creators of third-party techniques or applications used to generate the story?

  • Accepted submission will be published on the PacificVis Storytelling Contest channel on Vimeo. A selected set of accepted entries will receive awards (Honorable Mentions and Best Entry). Awards will be presented to the winners during the conference.


    Name Affiliation
    Sven Ehmann nexTT
    Jinbin Huang Arizona state university
    Oh-Hyun Kwon University of California, Davis
    Xingjun Li University of Waterloo
    Till Nagel Mannheim University of Applied Sciences
    Charles Perin University of Victoria
    Yong Wang Singapore Management University
    Rebecca Ruige Xu Syracuse University


    For questions regarding the contest, please do not hesitate to contact the chairs directly via
    Contest chairs:
  • Chris Bryan, Arizona State University, USA
  • Yoon Chung Han, San Jose State University, USA