Conference 2018: The who, what, when and where of effective graphics

Written by Brian Tarran on . Posted in News

Mark Baillie

RSS Conference 2018 began Tuesday with a call for statisticians to hone their graphical skills to ensure statistical outputs have the desired impact.

Mark Baillie of the pharmaceutical firm Novartis urged delegates to see statistical graphics as a key tool for communicating with scientists and decision makers – but it is a tool that is not fully taken advantage of, he said.

Statisticians do not often spend a lot of time looking at their graphs and thinking of ways to edit them to make them more effective at communicating key messages, said Baillie.

This issue was recognised within Novartis and so a 'Graphics Workstream' was established, which tasked a small group of statisticians with reviewing the relevant literature to identify 'good graphical principles'.

The findings of this literature review were condensed down to a poster-sized 'cheat sheet' to help others think through the whys, whats, whos and wheres of graphic design:

  • Why are we producing this graphic?
  • What evidence does it show?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Where will it be displayed?

Answering these questions should help statisticians refine their graphical outputs to ensure effective communications.

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