The last post detailed the Advancing SQLR session I attended. At the end, I suggested a couple of design programs fellow PhDers might look at using to present their data. I got quite a few emails and requests for a full list – so here it is! If I am missing your favourite program or you have another suggestion, let me know in the comments below! Happy Designing! NG.
As a bike researcher, one issue I wrestle is adequately communicating the dynamicism, embodied and affective nature of people cycling through place, time and space.
For me, 80,000 typed words, Excel tables and ‘theoretical anchors’ do not quite capture the thrill and rawness of riding a bike …(boring!!!).
I want my dissertation to bring my research to life – the bikes, the environment, the people, their stories and the African locations where my research is based. I want to capture it in all its glory…the sights, smells, topography, climate, risk, colour, activity…the lot.
So, I’m supplementing the written component of my PhD with a healthy dose of images, infographics and diagrams.
Producing these images has meant learning a few creative software packages. This has been challenging, but very rewarding. The design skills I’ve learnt are transferable for many purposes, like this blog!
My top list of Infosharing software programs.
- Visualize Me
- Google Charts
- Microsoft Excel (convert data to spidergrams, etc)
A few scientist mates have shown me simulation and real-time graphics programs they use for presentations. But these are a whole different ball game…I’ll look at them later, maybe for presentations – not so much for dissertations! (Stay focused! Another post!!).
Using the list above can produce more engaging data like:
Other ideas from Research into Action. Focused purely on communicating complex data, this site provides some innovative ideas to get inspired….their suggestions on this topic are:
- StatPlanet: this browser-based interactive data visualization and mapping application allows you to create a wide range of visualizations, from simple Flash maps to more advanced infogrpahics.
- Xtimeline: allows you to create your own timelines of data.
- Gap Minder: this site created by Hans Rosling allows you to upload data and create an interactive motion charts and graphs.
- Creately: this is easy to use Online Diagramming software – purpose built for team collaboration.
- Hohli: this online chart maker is simple to use and allows you to create a range of colourful pie, line, scatter, radar and bar charts.
- Tagcrowd: allows you to upload texts and highlight the most common concepts. The clouds can be exported as images and inserted in a website or power point presentation.
- Wordle: similar to tagcloud, this application lets you create images out of key phrases and words relevant to your research, great for using in PowerPoint presentations.
- Tableau: a free Windows-only software for creating colourful data visualisations.
Some examples of researchers presenting work in new innovative and visual ways:
- Information is Beautiful: David McCandless, an ‘independent data journalist and information designer interested in how designed information can help us understand the world.”
- Flowing Data: This blog explores how “designers, statisticians and computer scientists are using data to understand ourselves better.”
- Afrographique: Ivan Colic’s “small contribution to assist the changing perception of Africa and it’s people…This blog aims to collect as much data as possible with the aim of presenting the information in an exciting and digestible format to all.
- For inspiration and not so much for academic purposes, but shows how info can be presented in a very digestible way for the wider public – see Farming First. They have a series of infographics on agriculture and the green economy in the context of international development which are simple and clear.
No more boring text-heavy Excel data tables!
Creative visual data is more interesting to create and far more engaging to read.
Get inspired with David McCandless’s video below and get experimenting to share more bike information!!