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Data Visualization

Data Visualization is a way to help researchers explore and communicate their data. Start here for resources to help you make useful charts and graphs.

Why visualize?

Explore Your Data

Viewing data can help reveal trends and outliers that may lead to new questions and discovery. For example, in Anscombe's Quartet, four sets of numbers appear similar in table form, and basic calculations of mean and variance show no differences. Visualizing however, reveals distinct trends in the data.

Communicate Your Data

Charts and graphs are an essential part of publishing your research, and it is important that they efficiently and effectively communicate the data to readers in the research community. A growing number of computer tools can help you build effective and attractive visualizations for your publications. Data Viz skills can help you quickly communicate the information your audience needs with a minimum of extraneous visual information.

Data Visualization Websites

Here are some websites that may be of help:

Coblis: Upload an image and see how it may look with common types of color-blindness

ColorBrewer: Receive recommendations for color gradients that will be visible both in gray scale and with the color blind

Information Is Beautiful: A blog of visualizations for inspiration

Flowing Data: A blog of visualizations for inspiration

Data Viz Catalogue: A table of chart types that can be searched by what you are trying to describe

MulinBlog: A curated guide to websites on data visualization, including history, chart selection, design and general tips from a data journalist, Mu Lin. Data Visualization Tools: A display of different data visualization software and code tools with information on what types of data are compatible.

Visualization Tools

A large and growing amount of software tools can help you create your visualizations. Here are a few that may be of use to you:

  • SPSS - SPSS is a statistical software program for conducting analysis that also offers a convenient user interface for generating charts and graphs. The charts and graphs are highly customizable. The program is available for members of the NYU Langone community free of charge through the MCIT Software Portal.
  • Piktochart - A website for quickly creating infographics and attractive posters, flyers and memos. This site provides a free version and a subscription that includes more templates and higher resolution images.
  • The Noun Project - A site of icons and images that can be used in presentations for attractive, minimalist images. Be sure to cite creators!
  • GraphPad Prism - GraphPad Prism is a software for graphing and statistical analysis. The program offers a Graphical User Interface (GUI), making it ideal for users who do not want to work with code. The program is available to members of the NYU Langone community for free on the MCIT Software Portal.
  • MATLAB - MATLAB is a proprietary computational programming language used throughout the sciences and engineering. This tools allows users to generate visualizations and is available for NYU Langone community members through the MCIT Software Portal.
  • R & RStudio - R is an open source language for statistical analysis with several visualization packages available for download. R Studio is open source an integrated development environment (IDE) for R. R is ideal for users interested in working with code, and boasts a robust online user community.
  • Tableau - Tableau is a commercial data visualization software, with a free version available online (though be cautioned, data visualized in the public version is published online). The tool provides a convenient, intuitive GUI interface for making attractive, interactive visualizations quickly.
  • Cytoscape - Cytoscape is an open source tool for visualizing networks with a focus on biology and life sciences. Cytoscape provides a GUI for manipulating graphs and was designed explicitly for modeling molecular interaction networks and biological pathways.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud - Adobe Creative Cloud is a suite of tools for graphic design, photo and video editing, and web design. The suite is offered for free to faculty and staff at the NYU Langone MCIT Software Portal. For individuals who are not medical center faculty and staff, open source alternatives like Inkscape (for Illustrator-like capabilities) and GIMP (for Photoshop-like capabilities).
  • D3.js - D3 is a JavaScript library for creating dynamic visualization for the web. The website includes tutorials to help users learn to use it.

Health Science Library Services

The library is available to offer consultations on visualization design best practices, choosing a type of chart or graph, and appropriate tools for your project. We are also available to lead small courses on visualization best practices and certain specific tools.