Graphical presentation of data, best practices

Show the data, don’t conceal them was the first article from a series of articles published in the British Journal of Pharmacology that deals with the best practices to be followed in statistical reporting. The current set of articles in this series can be obtained at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291476-5381/homepage/statistical_reporting.htm.

“Show the data…” deals with the graphical presentation of data. The article urges authors to present data in its ‘raw form’, that would show all the characteristics of the data distribution. The use of the so-called ‘dynamite plunger plot’ is discouraged. In a ‘dynamite plunger plot’ the mean of the data is represented by a bar and there is a ‘T’ at the top of the bar to show variability. It is argued that dynamite plunger plots can give a false notion of symmetry in the data. The conclusion of the article is that data can be better presented and compared using simple dotplots.

For those interested, the previous post in this blog was also on the graphical representation of data and included simple R code for generating different ‘types’ of dotplots.

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