Why should you visualise your data and research?

The first event of InnoLab’s Pitch and Publish Café series this year was themed around how to visualise your research results and data.

The event brought together researchers and staff members from the university who wanted to get the tips on visualisation, which is a part of science communication. Inspired by the event, here are the top three reasons why visualisation is important in research:

1. Presenting your research, results and data in a visual way helps others understand your message. Symbols are universal and are not dependent on language. You can create a visualisation that is as simple as a chart or a research-setting drawing, or you can use programming languages to create something extremely complex or even interactive.

2. Your starting point is the target audience. You would likely explain your research and results in a different way to your grandmother over Sunday dinner than to a colleague at a research conference. Pictures and storytelling bring people together, and audience members have limited concentration spans and time. When at their best, drawings can quickly give a broad overview of results and their impact.

3. The visualisation process can help you to identify what is important and worth emphasising. What gets visualised gets understood. Visualisation is not just about creating drawings – it is a process in which you work with a researcher and a graphic designer to achieve the best results for a certain audience. Simplifying graphics, by using different shapes, arrows and colours, helps to deliver your message.

I would like to say a huge thank you to our two specialists, Satu Aaltonen and Samppa Toivonen, for the event. See you again at the next Pitch and Publish Café event on the 21st of February, when we will learn about effective pitching!

Virpi Juppo

Doctor of Administrative Sciences and vice-director of the Research Services and Graduate School at the University of Vaasa. Virpi has over 15 years expertise in research, administration and services.

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