Round table on dataviz in policy relevant research

Together with Nikola Sander, I chaired a session on dataviz in policy relevant research at BiB’s anniversary conference Turning Gold.

Image credit: BiB

What makes good dataviz for policy relevant research?

Data visualisation plays an important role in communicating research to others. This is especially the case in policy-making processes, where researchers want to avoid misinterpretation of empirical evidence.

Knowing our stuff

Participants agreed that for being able to communicate research through visualisations, researchers first have to understand what they are doing. This may seem like a no-brainer but researchers have to make themselves familiar with the data they are working with, and, depending on the discipline, with the mechanisms that contribute to the observed patterns in the data.

Researchers are responsible for their products, and responsibility can best be borne by knowledgeable people.

Finding the middle ground

The challenge that most participants of the round table addressed was to deal with trade-offs between simplicity and complexity. Policy makers want numbers to quantify things but a single number often provides incomplete information of complex relationships in the data. Dataviz helps to attach more information to numbers but visualising data properly takes more time—and time is a limited resource in policy-making processes.

Andreas Genoni
Andreas Genoni
PostDoc in migration and integration research