Data Visualization for Biologists
by Precious Kunyenje
Data visualization is a graphical representation of information and data by using visual elements like charts, graphs, and maps. It makes data easily accessible, provides an understanding of trends, outliers, and patterns in data, and makes it easier to share information.
Different data visualization tools and software are available for use by biologists. They are used to analyse and present biological data in visual formats.
The commonly used data visualization software by biologists includes SPSS, STATA, Excel, RStudio, and Python. Other data visualization software used by biologists include Graphpad Prism, Eviews, NVivo, and ATLAS just to mention a few.
Most data visualization tools and software come with resources on how to use them for analysis and data presentation. These are useful and a more convenient way to familiarize yourself with the tools and software on your own. The following are links to the resources for the frequently used data visualization tools and software.
SPSS is a software package for editing, analysing, and visualising data. It is used for
statistical analysis of all sorts of data including from scientific research and provides
the results in visual formats. To know more about SPSS, use the following link:
STATA is a statistical software package for data manipulation, visualisation, statistics,
and automated reporting. It is used by researchers in many fields including
biomedicine, epidemiology, and science. It is an excellent alternative to SPSS, shares a
lot of features, and has other additional tools giving it an advantage.
For an easy guide and introduction to using STATA, use the following link:
https://data.princeton.edu/stata. It is an introductory tutorial and will get you to know
STATA in no time.
RStudio is an open-source integrated development environment that facilitates
statistical modelling as well as graphical capabilities for R. It is integrated with a lot of
statistical and analytical packages for managing biological data.
It is an excellent data visualization software for biological scientists. The link below will
provide guidance to understanding RStudio and R programming: https://dataflair.training/blogs/rstudio-tutorial/.
NVivo is a good data analysis and visualization software for qualitative research. It
helps qualitative researchers organise, analyse and find insights in unstructured or
qualitative data like interviews, open-ended survey responses, and journal articles.
NVivo handles virtually any data, including Word documents, PDFs, pictures, database
tables, spreadsheets, audio files, and videos. You can display connections, ideas, and
findings using a range of visualization tools such as charts, maps, and models, and you
can easily view the live data behind them. To learn more about NVivo, use the following
There are many software packages that can be utilised by biologists for data analysis and visualisation. It is important for biologists to know the type of data they are using and their intended outcome. This helps make better decisions on which software package to use for data analysis and visualisation. All software packages cannot be
exhausted in this single blog, there are many amazing data visualisation software with cool features, all to be explored!
- Data Flair (2022). RStudio Tutorial – A Complete Guide for Novice Learners! https://data-flair.training/blogs/rstudio-tutorial/
- Rodriguez G. (2022). Stata Tutorial. https://data.princeton.edu/stata
- SPSS Tutorials (2022). SPSS Beginners Tutorial. https://www.spss-tutorials.com/basics/
- Tableau (2022). What Is Data Visualization? Definition, Examples, And Learning Resources. https://www.tableau.com/learn/articles/data-visualization
- Teachers College, Columbia University (2022). Tutorial: NVivo. https://tc.instructure.com/courses/7395
- Wikipedia (2022). Stata. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stata