Below are a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the On Think Tanks Data Visualisation Competition. Please review them thoroughly before submitting an application. If, after reading the FAQ, your feel that your question has not been sufficiently answered, please contact us. More information is also available in our Terms and Conditions.

 Definition of terms

 What is a 'data visualisation'?

A data visualisation can be either a static or interactive graphic that conveys information in a visually engaging format. Data visualisations can include charts, images and icons, animations, text, maps, and other methods for abstracting and conveying relevant information. Static data visualisations have sometimes been referred to as infographics. This competition understands 'data visualsation' in its broadest sense and will consider applications that attempt to convey data and information in a graphical format. Though do note that for the 2014-15 competition, there are separate rounds for static and interactive visualisations.

What is a 'think tank'?

Think tanks take many forms. For the purposes of this competition, a think tank will be understood to be any organisation or formal network that works at the the interface between research, policy and practice. This could include not-for-profit organisations as well as research institutes linked to universities or political parties, among other formations. To qualify for this competition, the think tank of the lead applicant must be a registered entity in the country in which it operates.


Who is eligible to submit a data visualisation to the competition?

  • Any individual or team working in a think tank anywhere in the world can submit an entry to the competition.
  • The entire team submitting a data visualisation need not work at a think tank, or even the same think tank. However, the lead applicant must be currently employed at a think tank at the time of submission. The lead applicant will be required to provide contact details, but the names of the rest of the team should also be included in any submission.

Which data visualisations are eligible for submission?

  • Submitted data visualisations must appear on the lead applicant's think tank's website at the time of submission and for the duration of the competition.
  • All submitted data visualisations should be of high quality, accurate and peer reviewed. In all cases, the source data of the visualisation must be fully referenced.
  • The data visualisation should have been first published no earlier than 1 January 2014, and can only be submitted once during the whole competition.
  • Static data visualisations, or infographics, must be submitted in one of the following formats: JPG, PNG, GIF or PDF. Interactive visualisations must be embeddable on the Competition website. This may be possible through the use of an 'embed' script provided by the visualisation software. If this is not possible, a video recording of the interactivity should be produced and hosted by a video service such as YouTube or Vimeo. The organisers of the competition will not be responsible for developing these videos. However, do get in contact with the organisers if you have any specific questions with regard to formatting.

Competition rules

How will the competition run?

  • The competition will consist of three rounds, some of which are only open to certain types of visualisation (see definitions above):
    • Round 1: Best static data visualisation
    • Round 2:   Best interactive data visualisation
    • Round 3: Best use of data visualisation as part of a communications strategy
  • Rounds will run consecutively (one following the next) between September 2014 and February 2015 (see full schedule below). Although it is expected that visualisations in the first and second rounds will be mutually exclusive (i.e., only entered in one OR the other of the rounds), Round 3 will be open to all previous submissions as well as open to new submissions.
  • Submissions for each round will be accepted via the online submission form until midnight UK time (British Summer Time, or GMT+1, until 26 October and GMT after that date) on the date stated for each round.
  • The day after each round closes, all valid entires will be posted on the competition website and a two-week public voting round will be held. We encourage entrants to publicise their entries during this time.
  • The five data visualisations with the most votes will be sent to the judging panel, who will select the top three visualisations of the round, and one prize winner among them.

What is the competition schedule of deadlines?

Round 1: Best Static Visualisation

  • Submissions open: 30 September 2014
  • Submissions close: 22 October 2014
  • Public voting opens: 23 October 2014
  • Public voting closes: 29 October 2014
  • Announcement of round winner: 5 November 2014

Round 2: Best Interactive Visualisation

  • Submissions open: 6 November 2014
  • Submissions close: 3 December 2014
  • Public voting opens: 4 December 2014
  • Public voting closes: 10 December 2014
  • Announcement of round winner: 17 December 2014

Round 3: Best use of data visualisation as part of a communications strategy

  • Submissions open: 14 January 2015

  • Submissions close: 18 February 2015
  • Public voting opens: 19 February 2015

  • Public voting closes: 25 February 2015

  • Announcement of round winner: 4 March 2015

Can I submit more than one visualisation?

  • Yes, but not in the same round.

Can I submit the same visualisation to more than one round for consideration?

  • Duplicate entries will not be accepted in rounds 1 and 2. However, visualisations that build upon previous submissions or present the same data in an alternate format will be considered. It will be to the discretion of the organising committee to determine whether data visualisations are substantively different.
  • Although round 3 will accept new submissions, any visualisations included in the first two rounds will be eligible for participation in the third round.

Are there any topics or policy issues that are not acceptable?

  • As long as your think tank deals with it, it is OK. However, we are particularly encouraging submissions in the following thematic ares:
    • economic policy
    • social policy
    • climate change, the environment and natural resources
    • governance and politics
    • demographics and their effect on public policy
    • urbanisation and urban policy
  • In general, the judging panel will be looking for the policy angle in each submission: what should the reader do with this information?

Does the visualisation have to be in English?

  • No, visualisations are accepted in the language of production. However, an English translation of any relevant text should be included in the submission to facilitate understanding from voters and the judging panel.

How will the panel assess the winning visualisation? 

  • Are they accurate and is all data and research properly cited and sourced?
  • Do they cover an interesting and unusual (yet important and relevant) subject?
  • Are they relevant to one of the focus areas of the competition, to the country in which they were developed, or are they particularly timely or otherwise newsworthy?
  • Do they have a clear policy implication (even if it is not 'spelled out')?
  • Do they demonstrate great technical skill in the development of the visualisation?
  • Are they clear and accessible to a wider audience including both decisions makers as well as the general public?
  • Does the design show creativity and innovation?

What are the prizes?

  • For each round
    • First place: US$1500 to the team, and six-month free Pro accounts for all team members
    • Runner up: US$500 to the team
  • All participants who register for our webinar will also receive a one-month free Pro account.

If I/my team win(s), how will the prize be disbursed?

  • Any prize money will be disbursed via international bank transfer in US dollars. It will be made payable to the winning think tank to utilise as they see appropriate.
  • A relevant form will need to be completed, and will be provided upon notification of the award. Any fees associated with bank transfers etc. totalling more than US$50 will be borne by the prize winner.

If I submit a data visualisation, do I maintain copyright?

  • As per the competition Terms and Conditions, by submitting a data visualisation, you maintain copyright over the information contained. However, you grant an irrevocable and perpetual license to allow On Think Tanks and the competition owners/operators to distribute your data visualisation on any and all print and digital formats without further compensation.