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How a Stats@Liverpool Session Helped a Postgraduate to Visualise their Data

by University of Liverpool Library on 2022-04-13T11:41:00+01:00 | Comments

KnowHow stats

Lucy is a Stats@Liverpool tutor and a second year PhD student in the Archaeology of Human Origins Research Group. Lucy helps primarily with statistics in R but also has a basic knowledge of MATLAB

Visualising your data is a key aspect of displaying your findings. Clear plots ensure that the significance and meaning of your result is conveyed with ease. Furthermore, eye-catching figures are essential for presenting information in dissertations, publications and presentations.   

One of the best ways to create good plots is to use a statistical package like R, where you can manipulate the parameters to meet your requirements. This is exactly what a postgraduate student needed help with when they booked a Stats@Liverpool session with me. Together, we were able to produce publication-quality figures that displayed their results.   

How we were able to help

When the session started, the student had no prior knowledge of the R coding language. We then went through the basics. I showed the student how to load data into the software and how to view different variables of interest. The student wanted to produce histograms to display the distribution of their data. So, I introduced them to some functions within base R that produces these types of plots.   

R is an open-source programming language. This means that it is free to download and use, and that external developers can produce and customise packages. R packages contain specific functions and guidance for certain types of analyses or visualisations. And there are many that contain functions for plotting histograms.  

At the end of our session, I showed the student how to install and load some of these packages. We then went through how you can use these functions to create the plots desired.   

The Outcome of the Session

The student went away with knowledge about the different ways to produce plots using R. In their own time, they were able to play around with the parameters to adjust their plots accordingly. Afterwards, the student emailed me to say that the session was very helpful. They now felt confident enough to produce their own custom-made histograms.  

Stats@Liverpool offers one-on-one sessions where students of all levels can get guidance on carrying out and interpreting statistical analyses. You can also find instructional videos on how to visualise data in R, and perform other statistical tests on the KnowHow YouTube channel.

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