May 5, 2017, by Stuart Moran

Digital Engagement (7): Toolkits for Data Analysis

One key thing that researchers across different disciplines have in common is research data. This can take many different forms, is often stored and structured in databases or spreadsheets, which helps researchers to manipulate, visualize and analyse the data in useful ways. Other researchers might be able to make use of the data for their research, and this is where data repositories are useful. However, the raw data has high barriers to entry and limited value  for members of the public or industry practitioners.

One way to engage a wider audience in your research is to not only share your data, but to provide an interactive experience or tool that sits on top of it. This allows individuals to ask their own questions and answer them without knowledge barriers, while giving researchers a direct route to impact.

Lets take a look at a couple of examples of what I refer to as ‘Digital Toolkits’, that act as approachable gateways to complex research data.

V-Dem is an online tool that provides the most comprehensive global dataset on democracy, allowing users to generate graphs based on their a set of indicators for countries across the world.

City Compare allows users to compare two cities in the United States of America using indicators such as population, crime, education and other data. Various tables and charts are automatically generated for the user.

Case Matrix Network is an international criminal justice toolkit, which supports legal work, policy and advocacy concerning core international crimes.

Climate Policy Database collects information on policies related to climate change mitigation worldwide, and provides an interface to query the data.

What I really like about these interactive data sets is that they are built on research assets that researchers have had to develop as a part of their research anyway. Adding an interactive front-end to the data set becomes a relatively small task with significant opportunities for impact.

If you would like to discuss the use of Toolkits in your research, please do get in touch with the Digital Research Team.

Stuart Moran, Digital Research Specialist for Social Sciences

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