a Celebration of Failure in VIS Research

Failure is a crucial part of the scientific process, but it is rarely given the same respect as success.
FailFest, a half day workshop at IEEE VIS 2020, is a chance for the visualization community to share
personal research failures and celebrate the important knowledge gained through these experiences.

The workshop will cumulate strategies for building a VIS community
that acknowledges failure and embraces its scientific value.

Call for Participation

Members of the community are invited to submit a story of failure in their own visualization research that they would like to share with the world, or propose a way to better collect and use these stories as a community. Some possible causes of failure might include:

  • Findings that did not generalize as expected
  • Studying a non-representative population
  • Methodology regrets ("I wish I'd remembered to ask...")
  • Flawed data analysis pipelines
  • Improper application of statistical methods
  • Under- or over-estimating time, money, or other resources
  • Not effectively leveraging diverse team skills
  • Submitting to the wrong venue
  • Not admitting failure or asking for help in a timely manner


We're accepting a few different types of submissions, outlined below, in the hopes of sourcing a variety of discourse types from researchers who range from early-career to senior faculty/industry. The Fail Fest workshop will address topics such as: how mentors in the visualization community presently or should ideally respond to failure; implementation of iterative design principles to visualization research workflows; and the role of community critique in development and evaluation of methods. Extended abstracts and position papers will be published in the conference proceedings and included on the USB stick.

Extended Abstracts [DEADLINE EXTENDED!]

Extended abstracts should be one page, plus references and (optionally) figures. Extended abstracts are an opportunity for us in our inaugural year as a workshop to 'get the ball rolling' on developing ideas about how best to curate and benefit from the lessons of failure in visualization research. Extended abstracts are due on August 14th, 2020 in the Precision Conference System (PCS). All deadlines are 11:59pm (GMT-11). Submit to PCS here and select "VIS 2020 FAIL FEST". Reviews will be returned by August 14th, 2020, and camera-ready extended abstracts should be submitted by August 28th, 2020.

Position Papers [DEADLINE EXTENDED!]

For position papers, we recommended up to 4 pages, plus one additional page for references and (optionally) figures. However, we will accept position papers as small as 2+1 or up to 9+2, if the content fits appropriately to that length. Position papers are an opportunity to present ideas in greater depth than extended abstracts.

Position papers may follow one of the following topics:

  • How to best deal with failure and learn from it
  • How the VIS community could help implement a failure-tolerant conference
  • The role of failure in the conception and design of evaluations
  • Frameworks or platforms to communicate on personal failures

Position papers are also due on August 14th, 2020 in the Precision Conference System (PCS). All deadlines are 11:59pm (GMT-11). Submit to PCS here and select "VIS 2020 FAIL FEST". Reviews will be returned by August 18th, 2020, and camera-ready extended abstracts should be submitted by August 21st, 2020.

90-Second Video Stories and E-Posters

Video stories and electronic posters can be standalone, or accompany position papers or extended abstracts. These formats are an opportunity to present experiences with or ideas about failure in visualization research in a brief, concise way. The deadline for video stories and e-posters is August 21st, 2020 and should be submitted to the organizers via email.

Web Articles

In contrast to extended abstracts, position papers, and posters, we expect web articles to have a more conversational, personal tone, with web links instead of a formal references section. Submissions should just be in a text & image format: a Google Drive document, MS Word, HTML or Markdown -- whatever is most comfortable. Web articles will be shared on a new "Fail Fest" online publication (e.g. Medium.com) and through social media channels such as Twitter and the "Early Careers in Vis" community Slack channel leading up to the conference. Web articles will be accepted on a rolling basis pending workshop proposal acceptance, and can be submitted to the organizers via email.

Panel discussion

We are coalescing a panel discussion of mid- or senior-level career visualization practitioners to share stories of personal experience with research failure and methods for recovery, such as cognitive reframing, project restructuring, or institutional/community support. The full panel will be announced in early August. If you would like to speak on the panel, please contact us via email.

Submissions will be evaluated on clarity of narrative, explicit identification of error(s), validity of alternate approach strategies or future improvement, scientific contribution, and specific relevance to the field of data visualization. For more information, email the organizers.