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Pie Charts: Pros and Cons

Data visualization expert Stephen Few explained the problem with pie charts during this interview with the New York Times: “When looking at parts of a whole, the primary task is to rank them to see the relative performance of the parts. That can’t be done easily when relying on angles formed by a slice.” An article by American Evaluation Association’s president-elect John Gargani argues for retirement of the venerable pie chart. He make points that are repeated in many anti-pie chart blog posts. On the other hand, this post by Bruce Gabrielle of Speaking PowerPoint describes situations where pie charts can shine.

In general, most experts believe that the times and places to use pie charts are few and far between. If you have found one of those rare times, then here’s a post at Better Evaluation with design tips to follow. And for humorous examples of what not to do, check out Michael Friendly’s Evil Pies blog!

ARL 2016-2017 Leadership Fellows Announced

The Association of Research Libraries has selected 28 individuals to participate in the 2016–2017 Leadership Fellows program. This executive leadership program facilitates the development of future senior-level leaders in large research libraries and archives. In response to a continued need to develop future leaders of ARL member institutions, this program is designed to build on self-assessment and reflection and to explore a personal/professional area of interest in the context of a group setting. During the course of the program, each fellow will construct a learning plan; engage in a customized, immersive experience to shadow a library director; participate in three week-long institutes hosted by sponsoring ARL institutions; participate in online synchronous sessions; and attend semiannual Association Meetings.

The program begins in January 2016 and runs through April 2017. The 2016–2017 Leadership Fellows applicant pool was highly competitive. The new fellows represent a broad array of backgrounds, experiences, and institutions. Congratulations to NN/LM PSR Network member Cynthia Henderson, Associate Dean, Health Sciences Libraries at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, who was among those selected for the new cohort!

How to Throw a Data Party

A data party is another name for a kind of participatory data analysis, where stakeholders are gathered together to help analyze data that you have collected. Here are some reasons to include stakeholders in the data analysis stage:

  • It allows stakeholders to get to know and engage with the data.
  • Stakeholders may bring context to the data that will help explain some of the results.
  • When stakeholders participate in analyzing the data, they are more likely to understand and use it.
  • Watching their interactions often reveals the person with the power to act on your recommendations.

To begin the process, you need to know what you hope to gain from the attendees, since you may only be able to hold an event like this one time. There are a number of different ways to organize the event, such as the World Cafe format, where everyone works together to explore a set of questions, or an Open Space system in which attendees create their own agenda about which questions they want to discuss. Recently the American Evaluation Association held a very successful online unconference using MIT’s Unhangout, an approach that could be used for an online data party with people from multiple locations.

Here are suggested questions to ask at a data party:

  • What does this data tell you?
  • How does this align with your expectations?
  • What do you think is occurring here and why?
  • What other information do you need to make this actionable?

At the end of the party it might be time to present some of your findings and recommendations. Considering the work that they have done, stakeholders may be more willing to listen, since people often tend to support what they helped to create.

NCBI Advanced Genomics Hackathon in January 2016

From January 4-6, 2016, NCBI will host a genomics hackathon focusing on advanced bioinformatics analysis of next generation sequencing data. This event is for students, post-doctorates, and investigators already engaged in the use of pipelines for genomic analyses from next generation sequencing data. (Specific projects are available to other developers or mathematicians.) Working groups of 5-6 individuals will be formed for twelve teams, in the following sections: Network Analysis of Variants, Structural Variation, RNA-Seq, Streaming Data and Metadata, and Neuroscience/Immunity. The working groups will build pipelines to analyze large datasets within a cloud infrastructure. Please see the application link below for specific team projects.

After a brief organizational session, teams will spend three days analyzing a challenging set of scientific problems related to a group of datasets. Participants will analyze and combine datasets in order to work on these problems. This course will take place at the National Library of Medicine on the NIH main campus in Bethesda, MD. Datasets will come from the public repositories housed at NCBI. During the course, participants will have an opportunity to include other datasets and tools for analysis. Please note, if you use your own data during the course, you will be asked to submit it to a public database within six months of the end of the hackathon. All pipelines and other scripts, software, and programs generated in this course will be added to a public GitHub repository designed for that purpose. A manuscript outlining the design of the hackathon and describing participant processes, products and scientific outcomes will be submitted to an appropriate journal.

To apply, complete the online form, which takes approximately ten minutes. Applications are due by December 1 at 2:00pm PST. Participants will be selected from a pool of applicants; prior students and prior applicants will be given priority in the event of a tie. Please note: applicants are judged based on the motivation and experience outlined in the form itself. Accepted applicants will be notified on December 4 by 11:00am PST, and have until December 7 at 2:00pm PST to confirm their participation. Please include a monitored email address, in case there are follow-up questions.

Participants will need to bring their own laptop to this program. A working knowledge of scripting (e.g., Shell, Python) is necessary to be successful in this event. Employment of higher level scripting or programming languages may also be useful. Applicants must be willing to commit to all three days of the event. No financial support for travel, lodging or meals can be provided for this event. Also note that the course may extend into the evening hours on Monday and/or Tuesday. Please make any necessary arrangements to accommodate this possibility. Please contact with any questions.

Content Syndication Now Available from NIHSeniorHealth!

NIHSeniorHealth, the health and wellness website for older adults from NIH, now offers accurate, up-to-date health and aging information for your website. Topics include Falls, Shingles, End of Life Care, Eating Well, Alcohol and Aging and more. NIHSeniorHealth has partnered with the HHS Syndication Storefront to make content available free-of-charge. Content displays unbranded within your website using javascript or iframe snippets you copy and paste into your page. It is automatically updated at the source and maintains your website’s look and feel. The Free Web Content from NIHSeniorHealth page provides step-by-step instructions for setting up an account and syndicating content on your website.  If you need help or have any feedback, please email us via the Contact Us form.

November 2015 Issue of NIH News in Health Now Available!

Illustration of a man holding a child; a doctor and patient; and a brain.Check out the November issue of NIH News in Health, the monthly newsletter bringing you practical health news and tips based on the latest NIH research. In this issue:

  • A Look at Epilepsy: Electrical Outbursts in the Brain
    When you hear the word epilepsy, you might think of intense seizures with muscle spasms and loss of consciousness. But most epilepsy seizures are surprisingly subtle and may be hard to recognize. These little spells can be an early warning sign of epilepsy, a brain disorder that strikes an estimated 1 in 26 Americans at some point in their lives. The sooner epilepsy is recognized, the sooner it can be treated and seizures prevented.
  • Keep Your Skin Healthy: Protecting Your Outer Self
    People say that beauty’s only skin deep; it’s what’s on the “inside” that counts. Our insides are certainly important, but skin is your first layer of defense against the outside world. Skin can also give important clues to your overall health. Learn to take good care of your skin, so your skin can keep taking good care of you.
  • Tumor Test Helps Tailor Breast Cancer Treatments
    A gene-based tumor test could identify women with a certain type of breast cancer who don’t need to undergo chemotherapy. The finding suggests that gene testing can add to traditional clinical testing to help guide treatment choices.
  • Sidestep the Flu: Get Vaccinated
    Influenza, or flu, can knock you off your feet and leave you miserable for nearly a week. It can cause fever, aches and pains, coughing, and exhaustion. The best way to avoid this fate is to get a flu vaccine each year as early as possible, before or even during flu season, which usually lasts from October to as late as May. The vaccine is available as either a shot or a nasal spray.
  • Featured Website: NIH Research Matters
    Want to know what’s new in health and medical research? Stay up to date with this online weekly. Its brief, accessible stories report on cutting-edge NIH-supported findings and put them in perspective. Subscribe to the email newsletter to get notified when fresh articles are posted to this newly redesigned site.

NIH News in Health is available online in both HTML and PDF formats. Additionally, you can get trusted, up-to-date health information from NIH News in Health added directly to your site via NIH content syndication. Print copies are available free of charge for offices, clinics, community centers, and libraries within the U.S. Visit the NIH News in Health Facebook page to suggest topics you’d like to see covered, or share what you find helpful about the newsletter!

OMH Webinar: Promotores de Salud E-Learning Program (Spanish)

The Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will host a Spanish-language webinar discussing Promoting Healthy Choices and Community Changes: An E-learning Program for Promotores de Salud, on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 11:00am PST.

The e-learning program is designed to build the capacity of promotores de salud to promote better health among individuals and communities. The e-learning program is available in both Spanish and English at no cost to participants. It provides promotores de salud with basic knowledge to promote healthy choices, and strategies to motivate behavioral changes among the community members they serve. Speakers on the webinar will discuss how the e-learning program may help promotores de salud talk to community members about chronic disease management.

La Oficina de Salud de las Minorías (Office of Minority Health, u OMH) del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de EE.UU. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, o HHS) presentará un seminario web, en español, sobre el curso de aprendizaje en línea titulado Promoviendo Decisiones Saludables Y Cambios en la Comunidad, en Martes, 10 de noviembre 2015 11am PST.

Este nuevo curso de aprendizaje en línea está diseñado para desarrollar la capacidad de los promotores de salud para promover cambios que conducen a la buena salud, al nivel individual y comunitario. Este programa de aprendizaje en línea está disponible en español e inglés sin costo a los participantes. Este programa también les proporciona a los promotores de salud los conocimientos básicos para promover decisiones saludables, y estrategias para motivar los cambios de conducta en los miembros de la comunidad que sirven. Las presentadoras invitadas a este seminario web hablarán sobre este curso de aprendizaje en línea y cómo puede ayudar a los promotores de salud hablar con miembros de la comunidad sobre el manejo de las enfermedades crónicas.

Infographics Guide from NIH Library Informationists

The Medical Library Association’s October 28 continuing education webinar, Data Visualization Skills and Tools for Librarians, was presented by Lisa Federer, Research Data Informationist at the NIH Library. The session provided information on different aspects of data visualization, including information about elements of design, such as color, line, and contrast. Lisa has also created the LibGuide Creating Infographics with Inkscape, which contains the resources for a class she taught with NIH Informationist Chris Belter. The LibGuide includes a Power Point presentation from the lecture part of the class. The slides cover design principles and design elements with links to resources such as Vischeck, a tool for finding out how colors in a chart appear to someone who is color blind, and The 10 Commandments of Typography, with suggestions for choosing font combinations that work well.

The second part of the class is a hands-on section for using Inkscape, a free, open-source graphics program, to make infographics. Inkscape allows you to use “vector graphics” to design infographics. Vector graphics are useful for image design, since they are based on pathways defined by mathematical expressions like lines, curves, and triangles, allowing images to get larger and smaller without losing any quality. If this sounds hard to do, there are Inkscape tutorials available to help. Other vector graphics editors are available, such as Apache OpenOffice Draw, a free service, or Adobe Illustrator. Comparisons with links to detailed information are available in Wikipedia’s “Comparison of Vector Graphics Editors.”

Apply by December 7 to attend the Winter 2016 NLM online class “Fundamentals of Bioinformatics and Searching”

Health science librarians are invited to participate in a rigorous online bioinformatics training course, Fundamentals of Bioinformatics and Searching, sponsored by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, NLM Training Center (NTC). The course provides basic knowledge and skills for librarians interested in helping patrons use online molecular databases and tools from the NCBI. Attending this course will improve your ability to initiate or extend bioinformatics services at your institution. Prior knowledge of molecular biology and genetics is not required. The major goal of this course is to provide an introduction to bioinformatics theory and practice in support of developing and implementing library-based bioinformatics products and services. This material is essential for decision-making and implementation of these programs, particularly instructional and reference services.

This course is offered online (asynchronously) from January 11 – February 19, 2016. The format includes video lectures, readings, a molecular vocabulary exercise, an NCBI discovery exercise, and other hands-on exercises. The instructor is Diane Rein, Ph.D., MLS, Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology Liaison from the Health Science Library, University at Buffalo. The course is a prerequisite for the face-to-face workshop, Librarian’s Guide to NCBI. Participants who complete the required coursework and earn full continuing education credit will be eligible to apply to attend the 5-day Librarian’s Guide in the future.

Due to limited enrollment, interested participants are required to complete an application form. The deadline for completing the application is December 7, 2015; participants will be notified of acceptance on December 21, 2015. The course is offered at no cost to participants. Participants who complete all assignments and the course evaluation by the due dates will receive 25 hours of MLA CE credit. No partial CE credit is granted. For questions, contact the course organizers.

NIH Image Gallery Now on Flickr

Screen shot of the new NIH Image Gallery on FlickrLooking for health or science related images? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently launched the NIH Image Gallery on Flickr. The Image Gallery offers a wide variety of scientific, biomedical and disease related imagery as well as photos of NIH leadership, labs, buildings and major historical events. Additionally, you can find NIH infographics, b-roll, and the latest research images.

The Flickr site was developed as a means to distribute images to the press and public while ensuring proper license, permissions and copyright protections are documented. The majority of the images offered are free to reuse with proper credit given. The content in the NIH Flickr site will be continuously updated. View the gallery on Flickr and follow the NIH Image Gallery to stay connected. If you cannot find the image you are looking for, you may email a request.