Graphical Displays of Data
According to Heiberger & Holland (2015), graphical displays help understand what a specific set of data says about the people in a study. An ideal bar graph includes labeling every data category on either the vertical or horizontal axis and the relative frequency or frequency of the class on the other axis (McCrudden et al., 2015). Therefore, inaccurate labeling could mislead the individual interpreting the data. Sullivan (2017) argues that the primary forms of false reporting include using the wrong scale and representing it inconsistently, such as using inconsistent measurement intervals or starting the baseline at another number instead of zero and failing to clarify it to the viewer. An example of where a graphical display could be misused is when a pair of graphs presented side-by-side are shown at the same size without using a similar scale. Although the bars and graphics in the charts may look identical in length or height, the different scales may mislead the person viewing them into thinking that the information represented by every picture can be compared.
The immediate ramifications that could result from the graphical display in the example above are changing a patient’s medication from the most effective to the least effective one. For instance, if two graphs are displayed side by side using a different scale (where every tick mark in the graphic for the best drug represents a 5% increase in the effectiveness over not providing any treatment, but the picture for the new medication represents a 1% increase in energy for every tick mark) and are not clarified to the viewer that the two scales are different, the physician may leave the training session assuming that if the graphic displays are of the same size and length, the effectiveness of the new drug may match the old one.
Heiberger, R. M., & Holland, B. (2015). Statistical analysis and data display: An intermediate course with examples in R. Springer.
McCrudden, M. T., Schraw, G., & Buckendahl, C. (2015). Use of visual displays in research and testing: Coding, interpreting, and reporting data. IAP.
Sullivan, M. (2017). Statistics: Informed decisions using data.
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Graphical Displays of DataUnit 1 Discussion: Graphical Displays of Data
Visual displays provide the viewer with information that illustrates qualitative or quantitative information about the data set under review. After reading the assigned sections in Chapter 2, please give an example of where you think a graphical display could be misused. What ramification(s) could result from misusing the visual display in your model?