High-Impact Research: Blending Science, Engineering, and Design

Tuesday 8th July, AG08 College Building, 12:30 - 2pm

High-Impact Research strategies could help large and small projects to deepen human understanding of the natural and made worlds, so as to promote sustainable use of natural resources and improve quality of life for individuals, organizations, communities, and nations. The raised expectations are that by addressing basic and applied research goals from the start, projects will yield higher quality basic and applied results.

High-Impact Research strategies are not for everyone, but I claim that researchers are more likely to achieve high impact, if they: 

  • Choose actionable problems that address civic, business & global priorities 
  • Blend science, engineering, and design knowledge & research methods
  • Seek interdisciplinary collaborations with diverse individuals & organizations
  • Build on generalizable theories, principles & guidelines 
  • Develop prototypes that are tested with ever more realistic interventions
  • Use quantitative big data & qualitative case study research methods
  • Promote adoption & measure impact

There are many ways to apply these strategies, and there may be other strategies that would be helpful, but the number of individuals, teams, and organizations that are already demonstrating their value is growing.  My hope is to accelerate their adoption and provoke discussion of these and creative alternatives.


Ben Shneiderman is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Founding Director (1983-2000) of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory and a Member of the UM Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) at the University of Maryland.

Ben Shneiderman with  The Singing Mondrian  treemap

Ben Shneiderman with The Singing Mondrian treemap

Prof. Shneiderman is a Fellow of the AAAS, ACM, and IEEE, and a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, in recognition of his pioneering contributions to human-computer interaction and information visualization. His contributions include the direct manipulation concept, clickable highlighted web-links, touchscreen keyboards, dynamic query sliders for Spotfire, development of treemaps, novel network visualizations for NodeXL, and temporal event sequence analysis for electronic health records.

Ben is the co-author with Catherine Plaisant of Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction (5th ed., 2010) .

With Stu Card and Jock Mackinlay, he co-authored Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think (1999).  His book Leonardo’s Laptop appeared in October 2002 (MIT Press) and won the IEEE book award for Distinguished Literary Contribution.

His latest book, with Derek Hansen and Marc Smith, is Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL (2010).