Data visualisation (and a guide to beautiful figures)

I recently read the Weissgerber et al. paper on PLOS Biology on data presentation. Next to reviewing the data presentation pratices of > 700 papers, the authors make a convincing case of bad data visualisation through examples.

The authors advocate for a new paradigm for data presentation, including more rigorous journal policies and better training of investigators.

Weissgerber et al. made a good point of old news, but they  convey the story based on actual data and beautifully chosen examples.

Reading through their article promted me to go back and collect several earlier valuable resources, presented below. Let’s make better figures!


Weissgerber TL, Milic NM, Winham SJ, Garovic VD (2015) Beyond Bar and Line Graphs: Time for a New Data Presentation Paradigm. PLoS Biol 13(4): e1002128. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002128 (PLOS online)
Several people commenting on the paper made good work to present similar graphs in R in example 1, example 2  and example 3.

Rougier NP, Droettboom M, Bourne PE (2014) Ten Simple Rules for Better Figures. PLoS Comput Biol 10(9): e1003833. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003833 (PLOS online)

Top ten worst graphs and some resources (Brohmans website)

A great talk on How to display data badly, PDF slides available

For completeness, the landmark paper here is Wainer H (1984) How to display data badly. The American Statistician 38:137-147 (on JSTOR or google).