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PLoS Biol. 2015 Apr 22;13(4):e1002128. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002128. eCollection 2015 Apr.

Beyond bar and line graphs: time for a new data presentation paradigm.

Author information

1
Division of Nephrology & Hypertension, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, United States of America.
2
Division of Nephrology & Hypertension, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, United States of America; Department of Biostatistics, Medical Faculty, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.
3
Division of Biomedical Statistic and Informatics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, United States of America.

Abstract

Figures in scientific publications are critically important because they often show the data supporting key findings. Our systematic review of research articles published in top physiology journals (n = 703) suggests that, as scientists, we urgently need to change our practices for presenting continuous data in small sample size studies. Papers rarely included scatterplots, box plots, and histograms that allow readers to critically evaluate continuous data. Most papers presented continuous data in bar and line graphs. This is problematic, as many different data distributions can lead to the same bar or line graph. The full data may suggest different conclusions from the summary statistics. We recommend training investigators in data presentation, encouraging a more complete presentation of data, and changing journal editorial policies. Investigators can quickly make univariate scatterplots for small sample size studies using our Excel templates.

PMID:
25901488
PMCID:
PMC4406565
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pbio.1002128
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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