August 5, 2013


Data visualisation competition: pen and paper may be good enough

A couple of weeks ago we and the Think Tank Fund launched a data visualisation competition for think tanks in developing countries. Our intention is to use the process to share interesting and useful resources for think tanks who want to try new ways of communicating -and not just reward those who already know how to do this well.

This will be the first of a series of posts on data visualisation resources. Therefore, let’s begin with the basics. has organised all their data visualisation posts into a single one: Data visualization: A view of every Points of View column.

The post is full of excellent advice and examples, but none better than this one (I think):

Pencil and paper – November 2012: Quick sketches and doodles of data or models aids thinking and the scientific process. In this article, Bang Wong and Rikke Schmidt Kjærgaard argue that:

Creating pictures is integral to scientific thinking. In the visualization process, putting pencil to paper is an essential act of inward reflection and outward expression. It is a constructive activity that makes our thinking specific and explicit. Compared to other constructive approaches such as writing or verbal explanations, visual representation places distinct demands on our reasoning skills by forcing us to contextualize our understanding spatially.

And conclude with very useful advice for the budding “data visualisation producer”:

Pencil and paper provide an immediacy that is unmatched.

The main article in nature organises its posts according to the following categories:

  • Composition and layout
  • Using color
  • Elements of a figure
  • Improving figure clarity
  • Multidimensional data
  • Data exploration

It you are thinking of applying to the Data Visualisation Competition I recommend that you have a look at this page.

To submit your application go straight to the Submissions Page.

About the author:

Enrique Mendizabal:  Founder, On Think Tanks

Read more from: Enrique Mendizabal