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CoDEx Visualization Challenge

The CoDEx Visualization Challenge is an opportunity to showcase your data visualizations for the broader Northwestern community. Visualizations represent your data in compelling, accessible, and impactful ways. Effective visualization can be a powerful mechanism to help your audience engage with your data and understand your research better. In addition, visualization can often make your journal publications, proceedings, and conference talks much more influential and lasting.


Current postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students at Northwestern are eligible to submit their visualization(s).

  • Northwestern undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdocs are invited to submit their visualizations using the entry form and following the guidelines provided below.
  • You do not need to be an expert in data visualization or data science to participate! Often simple visualizations are the best, and you will learn by participating.
  • All submissions must be a visual or graphic representation based on a research concept or data.
  • The submitter must have been involved in the generation of the entry and must obtain permission for its use in this contest from any colleagues who participated in its generation.
  • Participants may enter the challenge individually or as a team. We will accept up to two total entries per person (whether individually or as part of a team). If you submit two entries, they can be of the same type or different types.
  • Visualizations developed as part of a class are eligible.
  • You are encouraged to submit your best visualization of your research regardless of when it was generated.

Eligible Visualization Types

Visualizations come in various forms, but the goal is the same: to translate research data or ideas from numerical or abstract into a visual and more readily understood form. Some examples include, but are not limited to, charts, time-series representations, maps, network diagrams, web apps, infographics, and motion graphics.

Eligible types of visualizations for submission are:

  • Static: charts/graphs, illustrations, or infographics, which may include text. No photographs, please.
  • Animation: A series of images played in sequence (e.g., a movie). No documentaries or interviews, please.
  • Interactive: Web applications, interactive visualizations, and smartphone or tablet apps that require user input. Entries must be self-guiding or include rules explaining the interactive's purpose or goal. The instructions can be included in the submission form. Interactives should be free of charge.

If you are unsure if your submission fits these visualization types, please contact Research Computing and Data Services to confirm eligibility.

Evaluation Criteria

Northwestern researchers will serve as judges. Please keep in mind that judges may not be in your field of research. The first round of judging to identify finalists will be completed by March 18, 2024.

Only the first five minutes of animations and use of interactives will be evaluated.

Finalists will be notified the week of March 18 and invited to give a five-minute presentation of their work at CoDEx on April 2, in Norris University Center during our 1–1:55 p.m. session.

Your work will be evaluated on the following criteria:


  • Is the visual clear and understandable?
  • For interactives, are the purpose and function intuitive?
  • Does the visualization improve the viewer’s understanding of the concept or data?
  • Is the information being visualized thought-provoking or novel?


  • Is the visualization interesting or appealing?
  • Does the visualization use design principles (e.g., alignment, balance, contrast, proximity, repetition, white space, harmony, emphasis, gestalt, pattern, movement, rhythm, proportion, unity, ink-to-data ratio, etc.)?


  • Is the choice of visualization method suitable for the type of data and its message?
  • Is the method or approach original or new?
  • How sophisticated and creative is the visualization method?


  • Do the colors work for people with color-vision deficiency?
  • Are the different elements in the visualization large enough for people with limited vision?

Presentation at CoDEx

  • For finalists; points only awarded to those who present in person.
  • Is the description of the research and visualization method clear?
  • Is the presentation visually appealing and accessible, and did the slides, images, etc. make good use of design principles (see above).

Winners will be decided during the CoDEx symposium.

Presenting at CoDEx

Finalists will be invited to give a five-minute presentation of their work at CoDEx on April 2, in Norris University Center during the 1–1:55 p.m. session. This presentation is optional, but strongly encouraged, and those presenting in person at CoDEx will receive bonus points from the judges. The presentation should briefly describe the research motivating your visualization and how the visualization was generated.

For finalists presenting at CoDEx, a computer and display will be provided to display images, movies, and web-based apps (more details will be included for finalists in the notification email). Finalists with strict hardware/software requirements are welcome to bring their laptop/desktop and use the provided display for their presentation.

Finalists who cannot attend CoDEx in person will be invited to submit a pre-recorded video presentation or to send in slides that the facilitators can share (but will not receive any points for the presentation). We will not have a hybrid/Zoom option.


The awards will be announced between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. in the McCormick Auditorium, immediately following the second keynote speaker.

There will be six awards total, two per visualization type (static, animation, interactive):

  • $500 Visa gift card for first place
  • $100 Visa gift card for second place