Making Research Useful: Current Challenges and Good Practices in Data Visualisation, May 2015

Published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism with the support of the University of Oxford’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account in partnership with Nesta and the Alliance for Useful Evidence, this report advocates for the increased use of data visualisation techniques to illuminate research findings and provides suggestions to overcome some of the challenges academics currently face in using them.

'Making Research Useful: Current Challenges and Good Practice in Data Visualisation' is the result of a project led by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and the Department of Politics and IR of the University of Oxford, together with the Alliance for Useful Evidence,  to gain understanding of how academia, government, policy, media, and business leaders currently use data visualisation to illuminate research.  Written by Malu A. C. Gatto, funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award, and led by Professor Robert G. Picard, the project was structured around three workshops that brought together data visualisation experts from the media, policy, and business spheres, as well as academics and other individuals eager to learn more about the theory and practice of data visualisation.

This report summarises and further develops on the most pressing discussions of the workshops and argues that data visualisation can improve understanding of data for both researchers and their audiences and that, as such, academics can use it as a tool for theory refining and testing, as well as a means of disseminating findings. It advocates for the use data visualisation in academia and suggests a number of ways in which social scientists can “catch up” with developments of data visualisation taking place outside of academia.

The publication also offers explanations of some of the most common challenges academics currently face in using data visualisation, and provides suggestions to overcome some of these problems.

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