How many ways to use CiteSpace? A study of user interactive events over 14 months

Qing Ping, Jiangen He, Chaomei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Using visual analytic systems effectively may incur a steep learning curve for users, especially for those who have little prior knowledge of either using the tool or accomplishing analytic tasks. How do users deal with a steep learning curve over time? Are there particularly problematic aspects of an analytic process? In this article we investigate these questions through an integrative study of the use of CiteSpace—a visual analytic tool for finding trends and patterns in scientific literature. In particular, we analyze millions of interactive events in logs generated by users worldwide over a 14-month period. The key findings are: (i) three levels of proficiency are identified, namely, level 1: low proficiency, level 2: intermediate proficiency, and level 3: high proficiency, and (ii) behavioral patterns at level 3 are resulted from a more engaging interaction with the system, involving a wider variety of events and being characterized by longer state transition paths, whereas behavioral patterns at levels 1 and 2 seem to focus on learning how to use the tool. This study contributes to the development and evaluation of visual analytic systems in realistic settings and provides a valuable addition to the study of interactive visual analytic processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1234-1256
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is in part supported by the NSF I/UCRC Center for Visual Decision and Informatics (NSF IIP-1160960).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 ASIS&T

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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