With the end of the summer comes the culmination of my CHI Fellowship summer project. As an extension of my 2020-2021 CHI Fellowship, I spent the past few months making 3DMMS-Initiative.com a more interactive platform through data visualization. The aim for this project was to create a visualization that allowed users to see the interconnected work of macromorphoscopic (MMS) research in the broader context of biology, archaeology, biocultural anthropology, cognitive science, and genetic research.

Using the open-source software, Gephi, this project displays over 400 references that cite macromorphoscopic research and the associated MMS reference. These data were extracted from Google Scholar using the top 30 cited MMS publications and include the title, authors, and year of the publication. This network allows users to click on any displayed node to see information on the associated connections, both to and from the reference when appropriate. The colors of the nodes are based on the number of associated citations within the full network. To display this network on the website, I used Sigma, a JavaScript library which allows graphs and other visualizations to be published online.

My goals of highlighting the extended reach of studying and understanding human variation through the interconnected nature of scholarship was successful. While the cleaning of the data took a lot longer than I expected, I finally able to display the network that I was hoping to illustrate. It was difficult to figure out how to extract the data that I wanted from Google Scholar as data scraping was not as straightforward as it can be on other websites. Luckily, I was able to extract the data needed through exporting the necessary citations. One issue that I did run into was the “Search” function on the network. I attempted to recode the original Gephi code to allow users to search author, title, or year of any article in the network. Unfortunately, there is a limitation in the project in which only one aspect of the node is searchable. For this project, I decided to allow the titles to be searchable in order to allow users to search keyword that would appear in the title of the associated references.

Overall, I am very excited about the reference network addition to the 3DMMS-Initiative and I look forward to continue updating the project in the future!