Call for Participation

Call for Participation

BioVis 2015: 5th Symposium on Biological Data Visualization

at ISMB in Dublin, Ireland

July 10th-11th, 2015

Twitter: #biovis


(1) Aims and Scope

(2) Topics

(3) Submission Types and Criteria

(4) Symposium Format

(5) General Expectations (Ethics Guidelines)

(6) Review Process

(7) Important Dates

(8) Submission Guidelines

(9) Publications

(10) Awards

(11) Organizing Committee

(12) Steering Committee


(1) Aims and Scope

The rapidly expanding field of biology creates enormous challenges for data visualization techniques that enable researchers to gain insight from their large and highly complex data sets.

The international Symposium on Biological Data Visualization (BioVis) is an interdisciplinary event covering all aspects of visualization in biology. The Symposium brings together researchers from the visualization, bioinformatics, and biology communities with the purpose of educating, inspiring, and engaging visualization researchers in problems in biological data visualization as well as bioinformatics and biology researchers in state-of-the-art visualization research.

We invite submissions of original research articles, poster submissions, as well as submissions for data visualization and redesign contests.

(2) Topics

We invite contributions on all aspects of data visualization in biology, from molecular to cell, tissue, organism and population biology. Suggested topics for paper and poster submissions include, but are not limited to:

  • Genome and sequence data, including genomic variation data
  • Multivariate omics data (transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.)
  • Phylogenetic data
  • Biological networks and pathways
  • Biological ontologies
  • Macromolecular structures (e.g., protein or RNA structures)
  • Biological image data, such as microscopy data
  • Integration of image and omics data for systems biology
  • Modeling and simulation of biological systems
  • Neurobiology and developmental biology
  • Systems and software frameworks
  • Biological workflows or collaborative processes
  • Usability of visualization by biologists
  • Biological atlases and metadata
  • Processes for interdisciplinary collaboration between biology and visualization.

For 2015, the Data Analysis and Design Contests will focus on the visualization and analysis of the structural evolution of RNA. The contests focus on how to better represent this data. For more details see and

(3) Submission Types and Criteria

Four categories of submissions are invited for BioVis 2015:

  • Papers. Submissions consist of a complete manuscript describing high quality research. Accepted manuscripts will be presented orally at the symposium. BioVis 2015 will feature the publication of the accepted manuscripts in two categories: (1) highest quality papers will be published in a BMC Bioinformatics Supplement, (2) those papers that feature high quality content but are not accepted to BMC Bioinformatics will be published in BMC Proceedings (see Section 9 below for more details on the publication process). Three types of papers can be submitted, following the BMC categorization:

  • Research papers (original, significant biodata visualization techniques)
  • Software papers (useful, novel systems and resources for biodata visualization)
  • Methodology papers (design studies or evaluations of existing visualization approaches)
  • Posters. Submissions consist of a brief 250-word abstract and supporting image that summarize your work. You must present a corresponding poster during the designated poster session, and are encouraged to incorporate a demo or video into your presentation. You also have the opportunity to give a brief oral preview during a plenary ‘fast forward’ session. Example topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Work in progress and preliminary results
  • Previously published work from other venues
  • Visualization challenges relevant to the BioVis community
  • Data Analysis Contest Entries. Submissions consist of several parts, including: (1) a 250-word abstract; (2) a 2-page extended abstract describing the problem, your approach and results, suitable for evaluating the extendability of the entry into a full manuscript; (3) up to 4 additional free-text pages, summarizing your answer to the challenge, and methods/approach for producing the answer; and (4) a presentation (self-running PowerPoint, Keynote, or movie) demonstrating your approach and/or further explaining your entry.

    Supplementary material ranging from runnable demos in virtualbox images, through published manuscripts, is highly encouraged. Submissions dealing with any aspect of the challenge are encouraged. Data Analysis Contest entries could include, but are not limited to:

  • complete answers to the specific data analysis contest question
  • partial answers to discrete aspects of the question
  • tools that address all, or part of the question, or similar questions in the domain
  • design studies that argue for better representations for the problem, or answer

All accepted entries will be eligible for presentation at the symposium, either as short podium talks, or as data analysis contest poster or demo presentations. Data Analysis Contest entries deemed to make significant contributions will be invited to submit a manuscript for inclusion in a BMC Bioinformatics Supplement on the 2015 BioVis Contests, either as individual submissions, or as collaborative works collecting topically related submissions, at the recommendation of the judges. By submitting a Data Analysis Contest entry to BioVis, contestants license the submitted materials to BioVis for dissemination and/or use in BioVis promotional materials.

  • Design Contest Entries. Submissions consist of a design of a figure along with a 1 or 2-page abstract describing the methodology behind the design. The abstract should include:

  • aspects of the figure identified as needing improvement or clarification
  • justification of encoding and design choices
  • at least one or more images of your design
  • optional: a video or screencast to explain the visual encoding

The judges will select a winner and runner-up. A subset of selected contestants will have the opportunity to present their design in a session during the symposium, and entries that make significant contributions will be invited to submit a manuscript for inclusion in a BMC Bioinformatics Supplement on the 2015 BioVis Contests, in collaboration with the Data Analysis Contest. All accepted entries will be eligible for presentation at the symposium, either as short podium talks, or as design contest poster or demo presentations.

More information about each category of content and the various submission guidelines can be found on

(4) Symposium Format

The symposium will be a two-day single-track event with keynote and invited talks, paper sessions, contest and design entries presentation, and posters/demos. Primers acting as tutorial introductions to visualization topics will be provided.

(5) General Expectations (Ethics Guidelines)

At least one author of an accepted submission must attend the conference to present the work. To avoid potential conflicts of interest when assigning reviewers, the complete list of authors must to be provided when submitting your manuscript. You have the option to submit an anonymized manuscript file, in which case the list of authors will not be communicated to the reviewers. Adding additional authors after the final notification of acceptance will not be permitted.

All submissions will be treated as confidential communications during the review process, so submission does not constitute public disclosure of any ideas therein. Submissions should contain no information or materials that will be proprietary or confidential at the time of publication (at the conference), and should cite no publications that are proprietary or confidential at the time of publication.

Any use of copyrighted material and devices of proprietary nature will be the responsibility of the presenters.

Contestants will also use the contest data in the spirit of academic collaboration and inquiry. The use of patented and proprietary solutions and software will be permitted for demonstrating the results in a forum at the Symposium. However, it is encouraged that the final submission include open-source code distribution and anonymized data to foster academic collaborations.

Our symposium will adhere to the VGTC ethics guidelines for reviewers that can be found at

(6) Review Process

Paper submissions will be managed by the Papers Chairs and sent to external reviewers - from both the visualization and bioinformatics communities - to evaluate the work’s novelty and significance. You have the option to have your work reviewed via a double-blind process; to do this, simply be sure to exclude all identifying information in the submitted manuscript file, ensuring that the reviewers will not know the identify of the authors. Otherwise, the review process will be single-blind, i.e. the reviewers will know the identity of the authors, but the authors will not know the identity of the reviewers.

Poster submissions will be reviewed for relevance and interest to the BioVis community by the Poster Chairs.

Data analysis contest entries will be reviewed for relevance by the Contest chairs. Accepted entries will be invited to present a contest poster or demo at the symposium. Accepted entries will further be peer-reviewed for contribution and technical merit by external reviewers from the BioVis Program Committee, and judged for awards by a panel of experts from relevant visualization and biological domains. Judges will evaluate submissions on criteria including, but not limited to accuracy, visualization or biological contribution, and design and usability, and will select winning entries, as well as recommend entries for short podium presentations and for invitation to a special issue of a journal. Entrants should note that accuracy will not be the sole determinant of judging, and that significant and novel contributions to specific aspects of, or sub-problems within the overall problem, will be viewed favorably. Entrants are encouraged to explicitly state their entries' areas of contribution to facilitate appropriate review.

Design contest entries will be judged by visualization and domain experts. For visualization experts, entries will be scored based on: use of effective visual encodings; intuitiveness; and good aesthetics. Biological experts will score entries based on: intuitiveness; and utility. Given the subjective nature of this contest, the judges will provide a short summary of the score for each submission.

(7) Important Dates

  • Paper submission: February 15, 2015 => extended to 18 February, 2015
  • Preliminary notification: March 25, 2015
  • Revised manuscript submission: April 20, 2015
  • Notification of conference acceptance: May 20, 2015
  • Notification of journal acceptance: June 3, 2015
  • Camera ready copy: June 10, 2015
  • Poster submission: May 29, 2015
  • Notification of acceptance of posters: June 1, 2015
  • Data Analysis Contest entry submission: May 1, 2015
  • Notification of acceptance of contest entries: June 1, 2015
  • Design Contest entry submission: May 1, 2015
  • Notification of acceptance of redesign entries: June 1, 2015

All deadlines are at 5:00 pm Pacific Time (PDT).

(8) Submission Guidelines

Paper submissions can include full-color figures throughout. We encourage the use of digital video to enhance paper and poster submissions, particularly if part or all of the work addresses interactive techniques. Submission of working code and other supplemental material in order to increase the reproducibility of the work is also encouraged. The material for the contest entries should include all of the aforementioned content. It will be however, advantageous to include all material which will convince the reviewers of the specificity and topicality of the offered solutions. When possible, Open Source software should be provided for contest entries.

Links to details and guidelines for preparing a proper submission and supplementary data can be found on Authors must follow the style guidelines specified therein.

(9) Publications

All papers accepted for the conference will be considered for publication in a BMC Bioinformatics Supplement. Those papers that feature high quality content but are not accepted to BMC Bioinformatics will be published in BMC Proceedings. In addition, all accepted papers for the conference will be linked on the BioVis website ( Decision about acceptance to the conference will be made by the BioVis Paper Chairs on May 20, 2015. Publication requires final approval by the journal editors and authors will be notified of journal acceptance on June 3, 2015. Authors will be required to meet costs required by BMC Bioinformatics for open access; BMC Bioinformatics can also provide waivers in cases where authors have troubles meeting these costs (see

All accepted poster submissions will be made available on the BioVis website.

Data Analysis and Design Contest entries that are accepted, and deemed to make a significant contribution to the field, will be invited to submit full manuscripts for inclusion in a BMC Bioinformatics Supplement on the 2015 BioVis Contests.

(10) Awards

The best paper award aims to recognize papers that result from a successful collaboration between researchers from both the visualization and biology communities. Reviewers will be queried on the review form with a question "Should we consider this paper for the best paper award? (yes/no/maybe)".

Posters will be assessed for rewards by a judging committee during the poster presentation session.

Data Analysis Contest entries will be rewarded for creating either the best visualization among the competing entries, or for gleaning the most biological insights, and for other valuable contributions as identified by the judging panel.

For Design Contest entries, the judges will be be looking for a design that enhances the narrative and makes good use of visual emphasis. Focus, clarity and simplicity will be favored over extravagance.

(11) Committees

Organizing Committee

General chairs

  • Kay Nieselt, University of Tübingen, Germany
  • G. Elisabeta Marai, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

Paper chairs

  • Daniel Weiskopf, University of Stuttgart, Germany
  • Jan Aerts, Leuven University, Belgium

Poster chairs

  • Alexander Lex, Harvard University, USA
  • Michel Westenberg, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands

Publication chairs

  • Cydney Nielsen, University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Marc Streit, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

Primer/Tutorial chairs

  • Miriah Meyer, University of Utah, USA
  • Seán O'Donoghue, Garvan Institute/CSIRO, Australia

Challenges chairs

  • Julian Heinrich, CSIRO, Australia
  • Greg Carter, The Jackson Laboratory, USA

Data Contest chairs

  • Raghu Machiraju, The Ohio State University, USA
  • William Ray, The Ohio State University, USA
  • Jason Bohland, Boston University, USA

Design Contest chairs

  • Eamonn Maguire, Oxford University, UK
  • Ryo Sakai, Leuven University, Belgium

Industry and fundraising chairs

  • Cagatay Turkay, City University, London, UK
  • Harry Hochheiser, University of Pittsburgh, USA
  • Hanchuan Peng, Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle, USA

Website chairs

  • Tengfei Yin, Seven Bridges Genomics, Cambridge, USA
  • Tuan Dang, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

Publicity chairs

  • Hendrik Strobelt, Harvard University, USA
  • Andreas Hildebrandt, University of Mainz, Germany

(12) Steering Committee

  • Nils Gehlenborg, Harvard Medical School, USA
  • Raghu Machiraju, The Ohio State University, USA (Chair)
  • Jos Roerdink, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
  • Jessie Kennedy, Edinburgh Napier University, UK
  • Larry Hunter, University of Colorado, USA