WORGODS: WORking Group on Diagrams in Science



Welcome to the homepage of the WORking Group on Diagrams in Science, WORGODS. We are a reseach group at the University of California, San Diego devoted to the study of the multiple roles diagrams play in the activities of scientists with a special interest in the roles they play in investigating and explaining biological mechanisms. We are focusing especially on diagrams used in the study of circadian rhythms in chronobiology.

Diagrams are ubiquitous in science. Scientific talks and papers are filled with them. They serve to characterize a target phenomenon, to sketch an apparatus or experimental set-up, as well as to identify the parts, operations, and organization of a mechanism advanced to explain the phenomenon. Flow charts are often provided to identify the steps in a procedure, graphs are used to display data, and "cartoons" are offered of the mechanism proposed to explain the data.

One efficient way of reading a journal article is to read the abstract (increasily, journals are including Graphical Abstracts) and then study each diagram in turn, only skimming the text or consulting it as needed to understand the diagrams. Diagrams play crucial roles not only in communicating to readers what already has been done, but in supporting the cognitive activities of scientists as they investigate phenomena, advance and evaluate explanations, and so forth. We are particularly interested in the latter processes.

In our research we are analyzing when and where scientists use diagrams, the functions they serve, and how scientists revise diagrams over time.

We are supported by NSF research grant Number 1127640.