Research Methods

Lectures 11-12: graphs, etc



Good & Bad Graphs: Concepts

Based on Ross Ihaka's lecture (see above).

  • Data content Small amounts of data do not require graphs. The human brain can easily grasp one, two or three values.
  • Data relevance You cannot produce a good graph from bad data: graphs are only as good as the data they display.
  • Complexity Graphs should be no more complex than the data they display. Avoid "chart junk": irrelevant decoration, unnecessary colour, 3D effects. Use the ink to display the data, not junk.
  • Distortion Graphs should not give a distorted picture of the values they portray.
  • Story Decide what "story" you want the graph to tell. The same data can tell many stories, what is important for communicating your ideas?