Developing aesthetic heuristics to leverage more ‘insightful’ data visualisations for better business decisions -PhD Scholarship

Developing aesthetic heuristics to leverage more ‘insightful’ data visualisations for better business decisions




Project Team:

Fiona Carroll (Academic Lead Supervisor)

Esyin Chew (Academic Supervisor)

Paul Newbury (Academic/Industrial Supervisor)

Project Outline:

The way data is displayed can drastically change the understanding of the data and the decisions being made from this data. With a few exceptions, data has no natural visualisation so important choices have to be made about how it should be displayed. Particularly, choices that involve not only the logical and operational dimension of knowledge, but also the directly felt, experiential dimension. As Gendlin (1970) highlighted ‘Meaning is not only about things and it is not only a certain logical structure, but it also involves felt experiencing’. In fact, when we perceive, when we see, we filter out noise, we fill in gaps and connect the dots. The human aesthetic response serves the function of stabilizing the circuits that successfully mediate perception and interpretation, making those faculties more agile, conferring selective advantage and provoking the making of sense (Conrad, 2010, p.1). In terms of data visualisation, the aesthetic can provide many patterns that enhance our perceptual agility in order to further inform the decisions we make (Carroll et al., 2018).

The aim of this research is to explore how tacit knowledge, such as aesthetic knowledge can be nurtured to further enhance decision making behaviour and the design/ setting of customer’s expectations.  Based on initial work already conducted in this area, the aim of this project is to apply aesthetic heuristics to the development of data visualisations to promote more ‘felt’ knowledge and enhanced decision-making behaviours within the business and as a result with give the company an advantage in the display and use of the data. A network of working relationships has been established with industrial companies, particularly YARD ( in South Wales and beyond, that provides an ideal environment for the project.

Application Deadline:   8th May 2019

Proposed work as detailed below:

WP1: An intensive literature review encompassing the fields of data visualisation, aesthetic computing, user behaviour design and human computer interaction (HCI), to name a few.  A detailed investigation into the intersection between the fields of data visualisation and aesthetic computing. In particular, a clear understanding of how aesthetics has evolved to encompass a new language of form and how it might be harnessed in data visualisations to nurture more effective decision-making behaviours within the business.

WP2: Submit a completed transfer report

WP3: Undertake a number of very detailed studies exploring what aesthetic factors in the visualisation influence an impact on client decision making behaviour.

WP4: Identify and record consistent patterns across the studies. Formulate a detailed hypothesis

WP5 Submit the completed PhD thesis and undertake a viva. Disseminate the research.

The scholarship offers all eligible participants (student):

  • KESS PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees;
  • A monthly stipend in line with RCUK rates: 3 years of funding @ £14,483 per year for PhD
  • An additional budget to support your research of £3,000 for travel, conference attendance, minor equipment, consumables and training
  • An opportunity to access a suite of higher-level skills training & attendance at a residential KESS Grad School
  • A minimum of 30 days a year working with the company partner on their allocated project
  • Students must complete & submit their thesis within 3.5 years for PhD
  • All participants must complete the KESS Postgraduate Skills Development Award

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants should have UK or EU Citizenship, and be resident in the competitive area of Wales on appointment (or be studying in or working in the competitive area immediately prior to starting the project) and should have the right to work in the region on qualification. Residence confirmed by providing documents such as driver’s licence, tenancy agreement or recent statement from bank or building society.

The map for the eligible area can be​ found here​.  NB: The map also illustrates other assisted areas in the UK, however only the East Wales (areas of Wales which are not shaded with any colour) is eligible in this project.

To obtain an application form (Participant Application Form) and for further information regarding KESS2 at Cardiff Metropolitan, Please click here

To apply, please submit completed application form to Fiona Carroll at Email:

Interviews for this post will take place at the end of May 2019, with a proposed commencement date of 2/09/2019.

Supported by Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships 2 (KESS2) which is an All Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sectors in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.