Evaluation 2013 Conference Week: Sheila B. Robinson on How to Win a Copy of Presenting Data Effectively

I’m Sheila B. Robinson, aea365’s current Lead Volunteer Curator, and a huge Stephanie Evergreen fan.

Rad Resource: I’m thrilled to report that SAGE Publications just released Presenting Data Effectively: Communicating Your Findings for Maximum Impact. The book is already a success, as it is sold out on Amazon (at the time of this writing), and a single reviewer shares, “I am confident that this book is amazing. I can’t say for sure, because it sold out so quick that I don’t have a copy yet, but that’s just another indicator of how great I know it will be.” I wholeheartedly agree. And apparently, so does Amazon, where the book is #1 in “Hot New Releases in Social Science Research!

Presenting data

As a long-time reader of Stephanie’s blog at Evergreen Data, I’m drawn to her wonderfully informative, engaging, and entertaining posts. Stephanie brings a strong background in evaluation to the field of information design and her light-hearted writing style is appealing to those who dabble or dwell in the world of data visualization.

Hot Tip: I have a little insider knowledge to share: There will be copies available at the SAGE Publications vendor table in Washington, DC at Evaluation 2013. I’m sure to be at the table while the rep is unpacking boxes to ensure I go home with my copy, so don’t try to get in line ahead of me! However, there is another way…YOU can win one of two copies of Presenting Data Effectively, graciously provided by Stephanie Evergreen and our wonderful colleagues at SAGE Publications. And it’s easy – here’s how to win:

1. Find a published evaluation report that includes data visualization and is available online.

2. Post the link to it in the comments for this post with a sentence or two noting why you believe it either presents data effectively, or could use some “brushing up.” Be nice and professional, please, if you offer suggestions for improvement.

We’ll all be inspired by one another’s comments, and we’ll draw at random two names from among comments posted on or before Friday, October 25, and send each a free copy of Presenting Data Effectively. Anyone is welcome to enter, but only one entry per person please!

Hot Tip: Check out Evergreen Data blog to learn about data visualization and information design so that you can find an evaluation report, submit your critique and win your own copy of the book!

Alternative Hot Tip: If you are not one of the lucky two, you can certainly order a copy of Presenting Data Effectively from our partners at SAGE Publications.

The opinions above are my own and do not represent the official position of AEA nor an endorsement by the association. If you would like to add to or extend this discussion, please add to the comments below the post on the aea365 website. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

12 thoughts on “Evaluation 2013 Conference Week: Sheila B. Robinson on How to Win a Copy of Presenting Data Effectively”

  1. Many thanks to everyone who submitted a comment and link. Congratulations to our two winners, chosen at random: Stuart Henderson and Jennifer Miller will each win a free copy of Presenting Data Effectively by Stephanie D.H. Evergreen. 🙂

  2. Stuart Henderson

    I thought that I would take a shortcut, so I googled “Great evaluation report.” The first link was to a program that had the acronym GREAT (see link below).

    In the report, tables 3 to 14 show results from a survey to show how people in different job positions and at different sites responded to the survey. There is a lot of useful information in the report, but it is very difficult to digest the information because there is just too much of it.

    Also, because all the information was presented in tables rather than charts or another type of visualization, I had difficulty comparing the different groups. To find the takeaway message from the tables requires a lot of work. A more visual display of the data would have helped tell the story of the program more clearly.


    On the flip side, I’m impressed with the “State of Evalaution” report that Innovation Network put together. They write about it here: http://aea365.org/blog/?p=8361 It’s informative and engaging, and I like the variety of visualizations they used.

  3. I’ve found the Evergreen data blog to be immensely helpful in developing a critical eye for presenting data effectively.

    I recently read an evaluation report from CIHR(Canadian Institutes of Health Research) that I thought could be improved by more effective data visualization. http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/documents/oogp_evaluation_report_2012_e.pdf

    While the report itself is nicely structured and well written, the time spent deciphering the graphs detracts from the impact of the key messages. The line graph on page 12, for example, is very busy with bold colours, various shapes, and dark gridlines. I think they could have stripped out a lot of these effects, used contrasting colour to separate out the group of interest, and labelled the lines directly (a tip that has stayed with me since reading this blog post by Stephanie Evergreen: http://stephanieevergreen.com/proper-placement-of-chart-legends/).

  4. Here’s one I was looking at recently: http://www.agentofchange.net/data.html

    Considering what I’m used to seeing (I work in college health.), I thought it was better than average at first look. But I went to Stephanie’s AEA presentation yesterday, and now I think they could do a couple things better. I’m guessing the average reader of this report is a practitioner or college administrator. So it would be great if the report could use the data to better summarize the “so what?” question. So visually present score changes instead of all the data tables and think about use of color to highlight main points.

  5. Data visualization is one of the hot topics at AEA this year, and you can’t have a conversation about it without discussing Stephanie Evergreen. One of my instructors for a short course “worships” at the temple of Stephanie Evergreen so I am definitely excited about her new book. Congratulations to her for the book release and success so far.

    After doing some searching, I found this evaluation report online: http://www.arps.org/files/APRS%20Special%20Education%20Program%20Evaluation_June%202010.pdf.

    It included an example of data visualization, but I found the figure on page 19 slightly confusing. It was difficult to tell what the graphic is at the top of the figure – is it a filter? From what I can tell, it appears to be showing inputs inside the filter, then the resulting outputs are below it. It seems to be an unnecessarily complicated way of showing how the integrated database is generated and what type of data it offers.

  6. I have really taken to the study of data viz, in part because I come from the research world and see the need and added value of successful ‘knowledge translation and exchange’. I was a participant in the evaluation linked below. I like how the authors used a consistent colour scheme for different areas but found myself spending a lot of time trying to decipher the meaning (the “so what?”) of some figures, perhaps because of presentation? I keep this and other reports in mind now that I develop my own; my audiences often only have a few minutes to get key messages across so ensuring they are clear and quickly interpretted is really important.


  7. Big fan! My example of unclear data visualisation was actually identified in the Guardian, but is a good example of how easy it can be to misrepresent data. As identified in the text the increase in nurses is overrepresented in the image. http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/gallery/2013/aug/01/16-useless-infographics#/?picture=414097841&index=2

    I also found a couple of the visualisations in this example of data journalism confusing ((http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/jul/31/stats-nation-office-national-statistics)) – for example, the figure “14 in every 100 households”…i’m not sure why some households were shown bigger than others – it requires the viewer to read the text below the image to understand the point they are trying to portray.

    In my work, we struggle with the best ways to present data a lot, so it is nice to know that we are not the only ones struggling!!

  8. Mary Jane Taylor

    As a museum evaluator who struggles to present findings in ways that my colleagues, and my institution’s funders, can easily grasp, I am a big fan of Stephanie Evergreen’s blog. I would love to have a copy of her book.

    Here is a link to a data visualization that a Philadelphia firm, Bluecadet Interactive, posted about their work at the Field Museum. I thought it was great, in part because it was short, attention-getting and to the point. http://bluecadet.com/news/studying-sue

  9. The Institute of International Education packs a lot of great information into their Research Internship in Science and Engineering (RISE)Program Evaluation Report. They also include data visualization, which can be incredibly helpful in conveying data to diverse audiences. There’s a few elements that can be changed however. This report includes pie charts and both horizontal and vertical bar charts. The authors of the report might want to reconsider using pie charts because the number of variables (5) may make the values challenging for some audiences to interpret. The bar charts could be made consistent in style (in terms of both arrangement and color). Changing the data visualization elements could also be an opportunity to change the colors to create a theme across the report that matches the organization or program.

  10. Hi! I’m a newcomer to the Stephanie Evergreen fan club but really excited about what this new skill set could do for LWR’s ability to USE it’s evaluations more effectively. I have a stack of long, boring reports littering my office, and if I’m not reading them, you can be sure no one else is! B/c I’m dying for a free copy of the book, here’s a link to a report with some data viz included, but the text which analyzes the data is still quite dull- long lists of bullets- and although I found this report (both of them) EXTREMELY compelling for our work, we really had a tough time with the uptake of the study findings with the rest of our team. I have to wonder if presentation was part of it??


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