Visual analytics is a new interdisciplinary field of study that calls for a more structured scientific approach to understanding the effects of interaction with complex graphical displays on human cognitive processes. Its primary goal is to support the design and evaluation of graphical information systems that better support cognitive processes in areas as diverse as scientific research and emergency management. The methodologies that make up this new field are as yet ill defined. This paper proposes a pathway for development of visual analytics as a translational cognitive science that bridges fundamental research in human/computer cognitive systems and design and evaluation of information systems in situ. Achieving this goal will require the development of enhanced field methods for conceptual decomposition of human/computer cognitive systems that maps onto laboratory studies, and improved methods for conducting laboratory investigations that might better map onto real-world cognitive processes in technology-rich environments.