Despite the growing number of systems providing visual analytic support for investigative analysis, few empirical studies of the potential benefits of such systems have been conducted, particularly controlled, comparative evaluations. Determining how such systems foster insight and sensemaking is important for their continued growth and study, however. Furthermore, studies that identify how people use such systems and why they benefit (or not) can help inform the design of new systems in this area. We conducted an evaluation of the visual analytics system Jigsaw employed in a small investigative sensemaking exercise, and compared its use to three other more traditional methods of analysis. Sixteen participants performed a simulated intelligence analysis task under one of the four conditions. Experimental results suggest that Jigsaw assisted participants to analyze the data and identify an embedded threat. We describe different analysis strategies used by study participants and how computational support (or the lack thereof) influenced the strategies. We then illustrate several characteristics of the sensemaking process identified in the study and provide design implications for investigative analysis tools based thereon. We conclude with recommendations on metrics and techniques for evaluating visual analytics systems for investigative analysis.
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