See how “Information is Beautiful”


Recently this blog has focused a lot on how you can use various data visualization tools for your research projects. We’re still dedicated to promoting how data visualization can enhance your research.  While data can look good in words or numbers, try experimenting with ways you can make your data exciting and really catch the attention of your reader or audience.

Not convinced? If you have about 20 minutes to spare, check out this TED talk that came out in July 2010: David McCandless is an independent data journalist and information designer who has written for publications like The Guardian and Wired.  In this presentation, McCandless shows how complex datasets can turn into stunning visualizations that can help you and your audience see the world.  While working with data, he offers his own perspective on the popular phrase “data is the new oil”. To McCandless, “data is the new soil” as it is a “fertile medium” where data visualization can literally “bloom” like flowers if you work it the right way.


The speaker also has a blog called “Information is Beautiful“. This blog is definitely worth checking out if you want to see how data visualization can be used to display various types of information in very unique, eye-catching ways. He uses data to visualize politics, the economy, social media, and trends in pop culture.

You’ll also learn that he absolutely hates pie charts. Find out why!


Spring 2012 Drop-in Tutorial Schedule

Leave a comment

Get ready to mark your calendars! The Spring 2012 semester drop in tutorial schedule is now up! Find our schedule on the bulletin board outside of the lab (It will likely be the most colorful thing tacked on there) or right here.

Why should you care about the lab’s drop-in tutorial schedule, you might ponder. Well, dear reader, if you need help learning a specific quantitative or qualitative software that the lab supports, you can use the schedule to find out the day and time the tutorial is offered (..for this semester. The schedule will change every semester.)

There are several great advantages to these tutorials:

  • They are generally one-on-one, so if you have a burning question that you didn’t want to ask in class, you can ask one of our consultants without the pressure of your classmates surrounding you
  • You get your individual questions answered, and we’ll work at your pace so that you can understand the software better
  • Most exciting part: they are ABSOLUTELY FREE and appointments are not required!

We have experts not only on the popular SPSS, STATA, and SAS – you can get help on Mathematica, R, Dreamweaver, Matlab, Python, Google Earth, EViews, NVivo and ArcGIS. Come in if you need a refresher on any of these programs, have a specific question, or just need a quick tutorial on how to get started. We will work with you no matter the level of your experience with these programs.

Although making an appointment is not required for any of the tutorials, you may call or email us to confirm your arrival if you’d like.  Also remember that the schedule reflects guaranteed times an expert on that software will be available. If you have a software question but can’t make the tutorial, you can still drop by one of the labs anytime and a consultant on duty will assist you.

Save the Date: Student Research Forum on February 2

Leave a comment

Learn about using interviews for qualitative research projects from two MA students who used this method in the field. Rebecca Davis will present “Building Bridges in Selma Alabama: The opportunities and challenges of interracial contact”. Crystal Corman will present “Leadership Spaces and Potential for Women within Islam in Malaysia: Professional women’s experiences and perceptions.” This forum is sponsored by CTRL’s Research Support Group. It highlights AU student research and allows students to share their learning experiences with selected research methods.

The forum is Thursday, Feb. 2 in SIS room 300. The event runs noon-1:30pm and lunch will be served. RSVPs are appreciated:

About our speakers:

Rebecca Davis, MA, IPCR

Building Bridges in Selma Alabama: The opportunities and challenges of interracial contact

Racial conflict continues to challenge communities across the United States. This study seeks to identify processes by which individuals build relationships across racial divides and to understand how these relationships influence attitudes and behaviors. A qualitative case study of Selma, Alabama was used, in part, because of the stark separation of the races that continues in the city. With relationships at the center of this study, ten young adults living in Selma were interviewed about the interracial relationships in their lives. This study was guided by a juxtaposition of contact theory, social network theory, and systems theory which allowed for a focus on interpersonal interaction and the intersection between micro-level interactions and macro-level social structure. Conclusions from this study highlight the dynamic nature of race relations in Selma. The power of interracial social trust in a community that has been plagued by interracial mistrust illuminate possibilities for social change at both the individual and community-wide levels.

Crystal Corman, MA, IPCR

Leadership Spaces and Potential for Women within Islam in Malaysia: Professional women’s experiences and perceptions

Career opportunities at Islamic institutions in Malaysia are dominated by men, however education trends show that more women than men are pursuing formal degrees in Islamic Studies and Shari’ah Law. To understand the challenges and potentials for women to professionally participate in these institutions, this study examines the experiences and perspectives of Muslim women who are currently included in Islam’s decision-making and leadership in Malaysia, as well as their perceptions regarding a future increase in women’s participation in such roles. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty women including professors of Islamic Revealed Knowledge or Shari’ah law, Shari’ah lawyers and officers, activists in Islamic NGOs working on women’s issues, and members of the Islamic political party (PAS). Their responses include technicalities of working with men, benefit of women working on women’s issues, the challenge of balancing career and family commitments and the need to boost women’s self-confidence and public speaking skills.

Visit our website for more information. 

Welcome Back! How to use the SSRL this semester

Leave a comment

Welcome back to campus everyone!  The beginning of the semester can be hectic: finding your classroom, buying books, and claiming your territory in the library early (yes, it’s THAT big of a deal for some!) If you’re taking (or teaching) a quantitative or qualitative analysis class this semester, you might find yourself using some of our lab’s resources.  Don’t forget that we’re you’re one-stop-shop for all your quantitative and qualitative needs!

What can SSRL do for you?

  • Provide consultation and advice on research design, data collection, and statistical analysis
  • Conduct tutorials for classes
  • One-on-one research tutorials on any of the software we support
  • Step by step guides on many of the software supported by the lab

What can you expect from SSRL this semester?

  • More research seminars. Our lab supports the spirit of research by promoting and sharing the research work of our fellows, staff, and visiting scholars.  Keep an eye out for our posters and blog posts for dates and times. Lunch is included!
  • Continued support from our staff. The drop-in tutorial schedule will be posted shortly so you know which consultant is available for training.

Check out our website for more information.  We look forward to seeing you in the lab this semester!


%d bloggers like this: