Archive for the ‘Non-NLM Resources’ Category
You have surely noticed poorly designed data visualization displays with too many details, unnecessary icons, and many variables piled into one chart. But you don’t have to be an artist to do good visual displays. Most information designers concur that data visualization is about communication, not art. However, you have to know how to design with a purpose. To understand the basics of good design, you need to understand why humans respond so well to visual displays of data, which is the topic of an excellent blog article by Stephen Few, a thought leader in the data visualization field. First, he advocates that data visualizations aid users in performing three primary functions: exploring, making sense of, and communicating data. Evaluators would add that another goal is to help users apply data in planning and decision-making. To that end, Few argues that data visualizations should be designed to support readers’ ability to perform these four cognitive tasks:
- See the big picture in the data
- Compare values
- See patterns among values
- Compare patterns
Design experts like Stephen Few are avowed minimalists, who hate chart junk, such as gridlines and data labels. They have an affinity for small multiples, which are series of graphs displaying different slices of data. If you have never seen small multiples, visit this post from Juice Analytics with good examples. In general, they do not include any element that will hinder users’ ability to make comparisons, find patterns, and identify pattern abnormalities that may be indicators of important events. Decorative features like gas gauges and paper doll icons are viewed as unnecessary distractions.
There is a distinction between data visualizations and infographics. Alberto Cairo, Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami’s School of Communication, wrote that data visualizations are tools for interactive data exploration while infographics are visual displays that make a specific point. One way to think of this is that data visualizations have users, while infographics have readers. Chart art may be more legitimate in infographics because it supports the primary message or story. But Cairo admits that the boundary between infographic and data visualizations is fuzzy. He noted a trend toward infographics with two layers: a presentation layer, and an exploration one. The infographics have an obvious primary message, but readers are also presented with opportunities to explore their own questions.
That said, Cairo still argues that data design principles hold true for both data visualizations and infographics. Don’t drown your readers in images or distract them with bling. Zen is in; bells and whistles are out. The good news is that simple data visualizations do not require sophisticated software or design skills. That’s not to say that simple is the same as easy. Good data visualizations and infographics take a lot of thought. For the more interactive data visualizations, you must identify how your users will use your data and design accordingly. For infographics, you need first to clearly identify your central message and then be sure that every element has a supporting role. To read further about developing good visual design habits, check out Presenting Data Effectively by Stephanie Evergreen (Sage, 2013).
For decades, the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus was mainly seen in equatorial regions of Africa and Asia, where it caused a mild, flu-like illness and rash in some people. About ten years ago, Zika outbreaks spread to the Pacific islands. Then, last spring, Zika appeared in South America, where it has so far infected more than 1 million Brazilians. A recent study published in The Lancet suggests that Zika virus could eventually reach regions of the United States in which 60% of the population resides. Humid, subtropical parts of the country might support the spread of Zika virus all year round, including southern Texas and Florida. With no vaccine or treatment currently available to prevent or treat Zika infection, the best way for individuals, and pregnant women in particular, to protect themselves is to avoid traveling to places where Zika is known to be present. If an individual has to live or work in such a region, the CDC recommends strict precautions to avoid mosquito bites, including wearing protective clothing, using insect repellants, and sleeping in rooms with window screens or air conditioning.
Following are selections from a list of resources gathered by the National Library of Medicine to assist public health departments, health care providers, librarians, and others seeking authoritative information on the virus and disease. In addition, Zika Virus and Zika Virus Infection are new terms included in NLM’s Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) vocabulary.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
World Health Organization (WHO)
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), World Health Organization
Several local and state California agencies, as well as federal agencies, are responding to the natural gas leak at the Southern California Gas Company Aliso Canyon Facility that is affecting the Porter Ranch neighborhood in Los Angeles. The National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management Research Center (NLM Disaster Health) provides information on public health aspects of chemical incidents for the benefit of health professionals and volunteers who may be responding to an incident and for people living in or concerned about an affected region. The primary releases from the well are natural gas (methane) and odorants (tertiary butyl mercaptan and tetrahydrothiophene). The area is also being affected by “oily mist” containing assorted chemicals: benzene, toluene, ethylene, xylene, and other organics consistent with oil residues from the former oil drilling facility site. Air sampling has also noted radon and hydrogen sulfide.
A resource guide with a compilation of links on the gas leak and specific chemicals detected was prepared by NLM staff members Cindy Love, Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, and Stacey Arnesen. Contributions from NN/LM PSR staff were made by Kelli Ham, Lori Tagawa, and Alan Carr. A PDF version of the guide is also available.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has just released the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2016–2020: Turning Discovery Into Health, which will ensure the agency remains well positioned to capitalize on new opportunities for scientific exploration and address new challenges for human health. Developed after hearing from hundreds of stakeholders and scientific advisers, and in collaboration with leadership and staff of NIH’s Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs), the plan is designed to complement the ICOs’ individual strategic plans that are aligned with their congressionally mandated missions.
The plan focuses on four essential, interdependent objectives that will help guide NIH’s priorities over the next five years as it pursues its mission of seeking fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and applying that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. The objectives are to:
- advance opportunities in biomedical research in fundamental science, treatment and cures, and health promotion and disease prevention;
- foster innovation by setting NIH priorities to enhance nimbleness, consider burden of disease and value of permanently eradicating a disease, and advance research opportunities presented by rare diseases;
- enhance scientific stewardship by recruiting and retaining an outstanding biomedical research workforce, enhancing workforce diversity and impact through partnerships, ensuring rigor and reproducibility, optimizing approaches to inform funding decisions, encouraging innovation, and engaging in proactive risk management practices; and
- excel as a federal science agency by managing for results by developing the “science of science,” balancing outputs with outcomes, conducting workforce analyses, continually reviewing peer review, evaluating steps to enhance rigor and reproducibility, reducing administrative burden, and tracking effectiveness of risk management in decision making.
To inform development of the strategic plan, NIH solicited input from a wide range of stakeholders through a Request for Information, which generated more than 450 responses; a series of interactive webinars, which attracted more than 750 participants; and meetings with 21 NIH advisory councils, including the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director. The plan concludes with a bold vision for NIH, listing some specific achievements and advances that the agency will strive to deliver over the next five years.
The White House, in collaboration with the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has announced a new resource for American Indians and Alaska Natives. NativeOneStop.gov was launched in an effort to provide American Indians and Alaska Natives with easy, online access to Federal resources and programs. It is a partnership of many Federal agencies and organizations with a shared vision – to provide improved, personalized access to Federal resources and programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives. NativeOneStop.gov will make it easier for tribes, Alaska Natives, and American Indians to find services, receive consistent information, and streamline outreach and services by Federal agencies.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published an updated Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants booklet. The guide contains practical information to help new immigrants settle into everyday life in the United States, including how to find a place to live, how to get a Social Security number and how the U.S. system of government works. Available in 14 languages (English, Arabic, Chinese (traditional), Chinese (simplified), French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Urdu, Vietnamese), this publication has recently been updated to include:
- Revised and updated general information on policies, programs and resources;
- A refreshed layout and design;
- A new chapter called “Taking Care of Your Money” on personal finance, taxes and financial scams; and
- A new chapter called “Understanding Education and Health Care” on the education system, adult education programs and the health insurance marketplace.
You can download free copies in 14 languages on the USCIS website and purchase printed copies in English, Spanish and Chinese through the U.S. Government Bookstore.
Unlike traditional workplace systems, which often address worker safety, health, and well-being separately, Total Worker Health® (TWH) builds upon the foundation of protecting workers by supporting a universal understanding of the various factors that influence safety, health, and well-being.
To better understand the benefits of an integrated approach to worker health, NIOSH, along with the NIH Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is sponsoring the NIH Pathways to Prevention Workshop: Total Worker Health® – What’s Work Got to Do With It? The workshop will seek to evaluate the current state of knowledge on integrated approaches to worker safety, health, and well-being, and plot the direction for future research.
There is no fee to attend the workshop. The workshop will take place on December 9 and 10 in the Masur Auditorium on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland. If you are unable to attend in person, the workshop will be broadcast on the NIH videocast page. Registration, although not required, is encouraged for in-person and videocast attendees. Join the conversation on Twitter with #NIHP2P.
October 1, 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Human Genome Project. To commemorate this anniversary in a fashion that showcases the rich history of the Human Genome Project and the field of genomics over the last quarter-century, the NHGRI History of Genomics Program is hosting a seminar series entitled “A Quarter Century after the Human Genome Project’s Launch: Lessons Beyond the Base Pairs.” The program will feature Human Genome Project participants, who will be sharing their perspectives about the Project and how it affected their careers.
The series kicks off on December 3 with a panel discussion that will include the key NHGRI leadership during the Human Genome Project including Francis Collins (NIH Director and Former NHGRI Director) as well as Elke Jordan and Mark Guyer (Former NHGRI Deputy Directors). Other speakers will follow in early 2016 including Maynard Olson, Ewan Birney, Bob Cook-Deegan, Marco Marra, and David Bentley. The lectures take place on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 3 p.m. ET in Lipsett Amphitheater in Building 10 on the main NIH campus; they will also be videorecorded and made available on the NHGRI GenomeTV channel of YouTube. All seminars are free and open to the public.
Additionally, NHGRI has published a video interview with NHGRI Director Dr. Eric Green, “The Impact of the Human Genome Project 25 years from its Launch.” Dr. Green reflects on the lasting legacy of the Human Genome Project (HGP) 25 years after its start. Among HGP’s far-reaching impacts: team science, data sharing and analysis and technology development.
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!
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.