One of the most common data visualization tools for research projects is the standard graph. Graphs can be visually instructive when explaining how one indicator relates to another, but let’s face it – we’ve all seen a million graphs before, and they can be extremely dull. Moreover, if your aim is to compare multiple countries, all those lines on the same graph can be terribly confusing!

Enter Gapminder, at http://www.gapminder.org.

Gapminder allows you to select the development indicators between which you want to establish a relationship and then plots them on a graph with circles that represent individual countries. These bubbles are color-coded according to their respective regions, and their sizes indicate the relative size of the population of that country. If you hover your mouse over a specific bubble, a label with that country’s name will appear.

To create your graph, simply click on where the label is and select the indicators that you want to see, and the graph appears! If you want to isolate countries from a specific region, click on that region on the map in the upper right hand corner, and all of the bubbles for countries not in that region will disappear from the graph. To isolate one country in particular, check the box next to it on the list below the map.

One other nifty feature of Gapminder is that you can see how countries have changed over time. To see how this works, move the slider on the timeline back to whatever year you’d like to start from and click “PLAY”. The bubbles will move around the graph, indicating how the relationship between the two indicators you selected has changed regionally or globally over the years.

This is an incredibly effective tool for making your data visualization more interesting and engaging, as well as for showing changes over time! If you’re confused about its use or want to make sure you’re applying this tool effectively, you can stop by the lab in Hurst 202/203 for further pointers!

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