Section 4: Data visualization tools

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Following tools are clustered according to types of visualizations for which they can be used


Tools for creating visual timelines (usually interactive) that can display scientific data in specific moment of time.

Tools and Usage Potentials Limitations Examples

* Possibility to 'jam' complex data into a simple visualization
  • Visual display of time dimension
  • Embeddable and shareable via social networking tools
  • Possibility to interlink timeline with background information published online (e.g. Wikipedia articles on historical events)

* Most data is not visible on printed (static) version of the timeline

Timeline of chemistry discoveries:

Graphs & charts

Tools for creating graphs and charts from data loaded by user

Tools and Usage Potentials Limitations Examples

Load your data in several possible formats to display them on interactive embeddable graphs

* Graphs can be generated In number of formats and can have a very attractive design
  • No need for programming/administration skills – data are administered through online spreadsheet or by uploading an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Possibilities to add licensing information (can be part of the code that is embedded into one's own page or shared with others)
  • Easy to share via social networking tools
  • Graphs can be shared within private groups (ideal for research results that are not public)

Information that is brought up by interacting with charts is lost in printed versions

Graphs are created only from ready data. The tool doesn't have an option to wrk with data generated in real time on a server.

Unemployment in Europe:
Motion Chart

Online chart that shows several indicators over time

* Can be embedded into a web page
  • Charts can be updated based on live data every minute (or more)
  • Possibility to display data from online database (requires set-up by a skilled server administrator)

Source data have to be online and fed to Motion Chart in specific format through a url.
Google Chart Tools

Online chart generating system turning scientific data published on a server into real-time interactive charts in number of formats.

* Generates impressive charts in real-time (as data on the server change).
  • Can be used for constantly changing research data that are collected/generated online, for example data related to internet use, data from automatic measuring systems (e.g. seismographic data) or data collected through an online survey.

Requires high technical skills to link data sources with the application that generates charts – some programming needed to make everything working properly Chart gallery:
Many Eyes

Online service allowing users to upload their own data, turn it into visualizations and easily share with others.

* Many Eyes contains a lot of data shared by others
  • The tool is very versatile – data can be uploaded in number of formats and visualized in many different formats
  • It is very easy to share created visualizations through popular social networking tools or to embed them into a webpage

Various featured visualizations:

Software for creating powerful visualizations from existing development data

* Huge amount of development data come with the software (thousands of indicators from across the world)
  • Fee versatile software able to create attractive visualizations that incorporate many variables at a time (multi-dimensional visualizations)
  • Strength of the tool are dynamic visualizations of data changes over time, which can be played as an interactive movie/show
  • Ideal for conference presentations

Currently, you can not use Gapminder with your own data so it can support your research findings only if your research used some world development data used by Gapminder Gapminder Agriculture – visualization of indicators from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
Tableau Public

Sophisticated software for designing interactive data visualization from one's own data

* Ideal for generating sophisticated visualizations from your own research data.
  • Can be easily shared via popular social networking tools

Available only for MS Windows

Most sophisticated visualizations can be designed only with paid version of the software

World Aid Donors and Receivers:

Mind mapping tools

Tools for visualizing complex concepts and relations in diagrams and mind-maps

Tools and Usage Potentials Limitations Examples

Free desktop application for creating mind-maps that can be exported into number of formats and shared with others

* Organize your thoughts or illustrate your concept, export it as an image and share it with others
  • Very straightforward tool easy to use

Mind-maps and diagrams are not interactive

Formatting features are limited.

Mind maps are static

XX link to chart developed for this guide XX

A mash-up of online service and offline (desktop) application allowing to create mind-maps collaboratively online and easily share them.

* Combines online and offline mind-mapping – Mind maps can be created via mindomo's desktop application, using open xml format, and then shared with others or edited online.
  • Works on all main operating systems.
  • Maps / diagrams can be created online collaboratively
  • Visualizations can be embedded into websites or shared via most popular social networking tools.

Only basic functionalities available and limited number of private maps can be created by user in free version

Embeddable online map systems

Online mapping systems allowing to show scientific data against geographical maps. Maps are interactive and embeddable into one's own website.

Tools and Usage Potentials Limitations Examples

Display your research data against maps of the regions to which they relate.

* Maps can be embedded into websites, used to display own statistics and other data with geo components, etc.
  • Geographical data from OpenSteetMap can be downloaded and used in any way user need (including maps of whole regions, etc)
  • Map details are added by users (similar concept as Wikipedia) so the maps are becoming increasingly better.
  • There is a growing number of free server and desktop applications that work with OSM maps.

Documentation on how the system can be used to display one's own data is not very accessible

Since maps are users-generated, maps for some regions are still missing lot of details

Global Information Society Watch:

Display your research data against maps of the regions to which they relate.

* Maps can be embedded into websites, used to display own statistics and other data with geo components, etc.
  • Linking Google Maps with other online services or data sources is relatively easy and well documented
  • Most popular map service with major number of examples of creative ways maps were used by others for displaying own data

No components of GoogleMaps or any other geographical information from Google can be downloaded or used in any other way than to be displayed online in format predefined by Google. Interactive mapping used by Ushahidi:


Table of Contents of the iGuide

1. Introduction

2. Basic Communication Strategy and use of Web 2.0 Tools for Evidence Based Policy

3. Section 1: Political Context

4. Section 2: Evidence

5. Section 3: Links

This iGuide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

Impact 2.0 is a project of the Fundación Comunica with funding provided by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), IDRC.jpg Ottawa, Canada.

Consult the User's Guide for information on using the wiki software.