To investigate data and tell a story with it requires a process and a reliable set of tools. Martin Hadley, course instructor for Interactive Visualization with R, explains how 3 interactive viz tools can be applied to social science research.  


1. Use Tidyverse for preparing your data before analysis

Social scientists use data from all kinds of sources. Some data may come from secondary sources, others you will have collected yourself. Unfortunately different sources will usually provide the data in different formats. Therefore one of the first challenges in any social science project to prepare the data so that it is easy to analyse. The many functions provided by the Tidyverse package will help you with this.


2. Use visNetwork to build interactive visualizations of networks

Social science is inherently interested in the relations between actors and often uses networks to describe these relations. Here the nodes of a network are the social actors (eg countries) and the edges of a network describe the social relation of interest (eg the international trade flows between these countries). A lot can be learned about the relations between actors by building interactive visualizations of these networks, which is where the visNetwork package will help you.


3.  Use R Markdown to communicate the findings of your research

An important part of social science is to disseminate and communicate the findings of one’s research and data visualisations are a very powerful way to do this. But of course they rarely speak for themselves. Instead they have to be accompanied by written text to provide context, explanation, and documentation. R Markdown is a convenient package for producing papers, presentations, and reports and the seamless integration of text and visualizations.

There are of course other tools as well, but for now these 3 are a good place to start. Interactive Visualization with R for Social Scientists goes into more detail if you’re keen to learn more!

Find out more about Interactive Visualization with R for Social Scientists.