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Data Visualization and R Workshop

Data visualization lays a crucial role in researchers’ and analysts’ work. Organizations tasked with producing, releasing, and analyzing large amounts of data can more effectively evaluate and communicate their work by understanding how to better visualize their data. Often, however, visualizing research results is an afterthought, which ultimately limits effectively relaying information.

In this workshop, attendees will learn the core principles of data visualization: how we perceive visual information, an array of graph types, and best practices for creating effective visuals. To put these principles to work, attendees will learn practical skills for R programming that improve the quality of their work and teach them to program away the mundane. R instruction begins with a clear motivation, followed by an explanation of the approach and code, and ends with hands-on examples.

Taught by two leaders in the field, Jonathan Schwabish and Aaron Williams, this full-day workshop will inspire attendees to create sophisticated, effective data visualizations. Working individually and in groups, attendees will learn what makes a great visualization and how to create those visualizations in R.


  • What is data visualization? Why is it important, and what is its function?
  • How do we perceive visual information?
  • What are data visualization best practices and strategies?
  • What is R and how does it work?
  • How do you read, write, and organize your data in R?
  • How do you create data visualizations in R?


Who this workshop is for

This course is for anyone interested in data visualization and who wants to create data visualizations in the R programming language, including

  • people working with and analyzing data, including government analysts, scholars, and researchers interested in improving how they communicate their work;
  • communication designers and other creatives looking to expand their communication design skillset;
  • publishers and content creators who want to explore visual approaches to communicating their company’s message; and
  • new programmers and coders who want to learn the R programming language and create sophisticated data visualizations.

Please note this is an introductory course designed for people who have never used R. Instructors will send sample data to registered attendees before the workshop.


By the end of the workshop, attendees will

  • be familiar with different kinds of data visualizations;
  • learn and exchange ideas about visualization best practices;
  • be able to read, write, and organize their data in R; and
  • create various basic data visualizations in R.

All attendees will receive copies of the book Better Presentations: A Guide for Scholars, Researchers, and Wonks, copies of the Graphic Continuum Desktop Sheet, and assorted handouts and reference materials.

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Date & Time Thursday, October 10, 2019
Urban Institute 500 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington , DC , 20024
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  • Senior Fellow
  • Lead Data Scientist for Statistical Computing