What is the purpose of this Visualization Challenge?

The challenge is to create an informative graphic submission with a narrative that uses at least two publicly-available data sources to examine one or more social determinants of health (SDOH).

Who is eligible to apply?

This Data Visualization Challenge is geared towards current U.S. graduate students who are interested in innovating the statistical display of public health trends for various target audiences. The Challenge serves as an opportunity for those who are looking to earn visibility and experience as a public health or data science researcher. Current graduate students (masters or doctoral) of any academic discipline may apply as individuals or in teams of up to 3 people. Working with a faculty mentor is permitted, although not required.

  • All participants must be aged 18 years or over and U.S. citizens at the start of the competition. 
  • Participants shall not be:
    • a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment; 
    • a Federal employee working on their applications during assigned duty hours;
    • an employee of for-profit companies or organizations;
    • an employee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); or
    • Federal grantees or contractors.

How can I apply?

The 2024 NCHS/AcademyHealth Data Visualization Challenge is now closed. If you are interested in receiving information about future Challenges, please fill out this form.

What are the review and selection criteria?

The challenge is to create an informative static or dynamic graphic submission with an accompanying narrative that uses at least two data sources to examine one or more SDOH as defined previously. At least one data source must be publicly-available NCHS data that are prominently featured, and we strongly suggest that the other data source(s) be external to NCHS. The aim is to clearly illustrate and communicate an important public health issue graphically, and to write a short narrative to plainly demonstrate impact and why this issue is important, and to discuss new information provided by the graphic.

Judging Criteria: Candidates are reminded that each application will be reviewed with respect to the following:

Relevance/utility: The submission sheds new light on a public health trend or disparity that otherwise would not have been seen and contributes to areas of policy interest.

Complexity: This submission is technically impressive and complex, using sophisticated and advanced analytic skills to manipulate the selected data. 

Criteria related to presentation of statistical information:

  • The product effectively illustrates changes in trends, inflection points
  • The product effectively displays differences between trends among groups
  • The product effectively displays statistical variance of estimates

Messaging: The submission clearly identifies and explains an important trend or disparity in public health, as supported by the project description. The message is appropriate for the intended user (policymakers, researchers, community-based organizations, or members of the public). The visualization provides the needed context to help the intended user to understand the message.

Accessibility: The design of the visualization is appropriate for the message being conveyed. Users can navigate through the visualization with ease.

Design & Creativity: The visualization is visually striking and effectively uses visual elements (colors, annotations) to enhance and highlight the message.

Are there any additional benefits to being selected?

Yes. The winner(s) will receive:

  • Complimentary registration to attend, and present a poster at, the 2024 AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting;
  • Greater visibility as a researcher in the fields of public health and data science;
  • An expanded professional network including new collaborators, and;
  • Experience creating data visualizations to communicate important public health trends and disparities to a wide audience.

What data should I use for the Challenge?

Participants will choose one of more public use files (PUFs) from data systems across NCHS (e.g., the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), the National Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Study (NPALS), the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), the National Electronic Health Record Survey (NEHRS), and/or point-estimates or trend data from provisional COVID and/or Vital Stats rapid release data, or Health United States. All data are freely available online. The NCHS data must be prominently featured.

We strongly suggest that the other public data source(s) be external to NCHS. A non-exhaustive list of external data sources to NCHS includes data from the Census Bureau or another Federal statistical agency; healthdata.gov; or credible, reliable, and valid public data available from a university, non-profit, public or private foundation, et cetera. If questions or concerns are raised about an external data source, NCHS will consult with AcademyHealth. NCHS will make the final decision about whether that data source is suitable and can be included.

What is the definition of Social Determinants of Health?

The Healthy People 2030 (HP 2030) initiative defines SDOH as “the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks”. The HP 2030 SDOH framework includes five broad domains of economic stability, educational access and quality, health care access and quality, neighborhood and the built environment, and social and community context. More information about the Healthy People 2030 program, framework, and objectives can be found here.

Intellectual Property Policy

Submissions to the 2024 NCHS/AcademyHealth Data Visualization Challenge shall be the sole and exclusive intellectual property of the author(s), except as they may voluntarily choose to transfer such property, in full, or in part. If AcademyHealth or NCHS were to link to any submissions, the author(s) would be credited.

Can individuals from a non-U.S. institution apply?

No, due to program requirements, individuals from non-U.S. institutions are not eligible to apply.

Is this open to non-U.S. citizens?

No, due to program requirements, applicants who are not U.S. citizens are not eligible to apply.

Sample Eligibility Questions and Answers

  1. I am not a U.S. citizen, but I have a visa/am a permanent resident/am applying for citizenship. Can I apply?

No, due to program requirements, applicants who are not U.S. citizens are not eligible to apply.

2. I am on active-duty status with the U.S. military. I am not working at or for a specific government agency currently while I am a student. Can I apply?

Thank you for your service, although as an active-duty member of the U.S. military, you are considered an employee of the federal government and are thus ineligible. 

3. We have a funded T32 post-doctoral training program at our University. Would our post-doctoral fellows be considered graduate students?
For the purpose of this program, post-doctoral Fellows are not considered graduate students as they already hold a graduate degree. However, post-docs are able to serve as a mentor to an individual or a team of graduate students.

4. We have a T32 awarded to a faculty PI, although the fellows receive tuition, stipend, etc. from the grant. Would the fellows be considered “federal grantees”?

The fellows are not considered federal grantees as the award is given to the PI.

5. I work part-time at a restaurant while attending graduate school. Is this considered a for-profit institution for the purpose of this Challenge?

By for-profit company we mean a health-related company (research firm, pharmaceutical company, etc.) We do not want to exclude a student who works for a service-related company like a retail store or restaurant. You are eligible to apply for the Challenge.

Additional questions?

Contact us at nchs@academyhealth.org.