The Power of Data Viz for Telling Stories About Science

Illustrations and other visual tools are a fantastic way to analyze complex scientific info and help the public understand it

Erin McCoy
Modus
Published in
6 min readNov 25, 2019

--

Illustrated scientists working with data visualizations
Data visualization helps scientists not only analyze the data they collect, but also explain it to others. Illustration: Killer Visual Strategies

AAnyone who follows the news in spaceflight technology or stays up-to-date on the latest findings in environmental science knows just how fundamental data visualizations are to the conversation.

Scrolling through NASA or SpaceX’s Twitter feeds, you’re likely to find data-backed illustrations that show us the parts of our universe we can’t yet photograph. Search for research on climate change and you’ll discover that designers and scientists alike are working to bring the trends to life in a visual medium.

Why all this effort to transform words and numbers into graphs, charts, illustrations, and motion graphics? Because the more information scientists gather about the world around us, the more unmanageable all that data becomes.

As a result, data visualization has become essential not only in the analysis of information that scientists collect, but in the clear dissemination of that information to the public.

What does scientific data visualization look like?

Data can take countless forms across the array of scientific fields, so we must define the term “data visualization” somewhat broadly.

In the field of paleontology, a life-like rendering of what a dinosaur may have looked like — from size and coloring to its feathers or scales — contains a huge amount of data, even if not all of this data can be measured in a numerical way. Scientific visualizations like this translate information into something that viewers can understand instantly.

Graphs help us make comparisons, recognize trends and patterns, and draw conclusions — both more quickly and more accurately.

--

--

Erin McCoy
Modus
Writer for

Editor @ medium.com/the-visual-marketer | Director, Content Marketing & Public Relations @ Killer Visual Strategies killervisualstrategies.com