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First of all, aside from a few courses in Psych statistics, I've never studied much about making or using graphs effectively.  I know some of the basics, but until a few months ago had NEVER thought of how to teach graph reading or drawing.  I do worry that I'm inadvertently teaching them some bad habits or inappropriate forms.

For good habits or appropriate form you can do worse than to read Edward Tufte's books.

The fact is that until relatively recently (1970's) graph-based exploratory data analysis hadn't been really a part of statistics, and I don't think even today academic statisticians or statistics books really give it the prominence it deserves. So really I cannot recommend sources for how to learn or teach graphing.

Another book you might want to look at is How to lie with statistics which is an entertaining little booklet from the 1950's which illustrates a lot of the pitfalls to be avoided when making graphs.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 07:20:15 AM EST
Also see the series here by JakeS

Do you know any good, usable programs for making graphs? I find excel to be rather limited in its aesthetics.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 07:38:42 AM EST
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Hmm, I would use R. Maybe I should write a series of tutorials - it's not as scary as it seems.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 07:52:59 AM EST
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... by coincidence, I was just this morning contemplating picking up R.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 22nd, 2008 at 06:55:41 AM EST
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What do you need to use R for? Maybe I can target a tutorial for your application.

I haven't tried it, but I think Jaguar (Java Gui for R) coould be a really nice environment for those less statistically inclined.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 22nd, 2008 at 07:19:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Non parametric statistics ... eg, clustering using minimum entropy increase on group formation.

But there's no need to tailor the tutorial to that ... a tutorial on using R to plot things of interest is fine. The main hurdles on learning a language-based approach rather than something like a spreadsheet is getting the basic Gestalt of the language and knowing how to do something from beginning to end ... once that foundation is in place, the balance can be picked up incrementally.

So something where a statistical language approach has substantial advantages ... maybe a tutorial on plotting EU-wide and Eurozone time series data based on data on individual countries.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 22nd, 2008 at 09:12:40 AM EST
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The basic gestalt of the language would be working with data.frames and getting used to functional programming and list-based data.

And, of course, exploratory data analysis using graphs.

I should be able to write a couple of diaries on that - I just hope they won't come up too arid/boring/technical.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 22nd, 2008 at 06:53:24 PM EST
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Just make sure you are graphing something of interest in each tutorial, it should be all right.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jun 22nd, 2008 at 08:17:49 PM EST
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Reminds me that I need to do another one or two of those. I actually quite liked that project, but I guess I've been too lazy to follow it up.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 11th, 2008 at 05:47:27 AM EST
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