Data Visualizations

This week I attended a Plotly data visualization workshop by PhD Candidate Matthew D. Lincoln from the Department of Art History at the University of Maryland. Plotly is a free web-based graphing tool for making data visualizations from small-to-moderate user-provided datasets. Groups can collaborate on projects directly through their Plotly accounts without having to send data back and forth through email. Datasets charted using Excel, MATLAB, Python, Tableau, and R can be easily graphed in Plotly and exported to several image formats, including pdf, png, eps, and jpg.


During the demo, users “forked and edited” Matt’s data table–data mined from the National Gallery of Art website’s HTML–to create their own visualizations. This histogram represents the number of works acquired in each genre of Dutch Baroque paintings by different NGA curators since the 1930s.

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View of the Plotly workspace with Matt’s data table. The user chooses which variables correspond with which axis based on the values and type of plot one has chosen to visualize. The settings here were used to plot the bubble chart below.

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A bubble chart visualizing the relative size of paintings acquired by different curators across the 20th century, plotted according to their creation date. This chart was plotted using the optional text column corresponding to artwork titles. When the user hovers over each bubble in the chart, the title of that painting appears. Plotly offers several theme options, seen in the left-hand column.

Visualizations of Humanities data allow us to quickly grasp a lot of bits of information that in the past might have taken a scholar years of toiling in archives and a whole article or book to document. In the bubble chart above, not only can we see when and for how long curators were acquiring works for the National Gallery of Art, but we also obtain an immediate impression of the relative size of each work, the range of dates each curator was interested in acquiring, as well as the rigidity or fluidity of their collecting preferences or opportunities. For example, the current curator Arthur K. Wheelock clearly has the most outliers in terms of size and range of creation dates represented among his acquisitions. This information then opens up many more questions for further research–questions the student or scholar might not have otherwise thought to ask–such as, what precisely accounts for these outliers in Wheelock’s collecting history? Changes in the art market? Personal preference? A desire to push boundaries? Shifting parameters in the field of Dutch Baroque art history?

Don’t Miss This!

Thank you for keeping up with the daily posts last week celebrating Open Access Week!  We had a great time writing the posts and finding fun and informative materials to share. There is still much to explore on this topic… but we will take a break and focus on our upcoming workshop.

On Wednesday, Ann Marie Davis, Anthony Graesch and Joe Schroeder will be presenting their work in the Technology Fellows Program. We will meet for a continental breakfast in the Hood Dining Room starting at 9:30. If you are able to attend, even for a short time, please you join us. They are all integrating technology into their pedagogy in exciting and very different ways:

  • Joe Schroeder (Psychology) will be discussing the successes and pitfalls of having students use video animation to demonstrate an understanding of the sequences and timing of neurophysiological phenomena.
  • Ann Marie Davis (History) will share her goals and strategies for having students engage materials unique to Special Collections and later present their research to a broader audience.
  • Anthony Graesch (Anthropology) will discuss how he positions first- and second-year students as primary data collectors while using readily available tools to sharpen their digital literacies and analytic competencies.
Here are the details:
Technology Fellows Curricular Innovations
Wednesday, October 29
9:30-11:00 a.m.
Hood Dining Room

Open Access Day 5: Teaching Open Access

Philo_medievThis week we’ve talked about what open access is, how we promote open access at Connecticut College, and how to maintain rights over your intellectual property. This is a teaching blog, so I’d like this last post to focus on educating students about open access.

Our students today are the scholars of tomorrow. Promoting open access is important if we wish the publishing landscape to change (if you’ve been reading the blog this week, chances are you agree some change is necessary). Here are a few ideas for educating students about the open access movement and its principles, but I know my creative colleagues can add to the list! Your contributions are very welcome – just comment on the post.

  • Have open discussions about copyright, intellectual property and open access in your classroom. What might this look like? I often link this to a discussion of academic integrity, participating in a scholarly conversation, and the students’ roles in that conversation. Not only does this change the discussion of plagiarism from finger-wagging to an intellectual exercise – a much more valuable way to approach plagiarism – but it also helps students understand why respecting others’ contributions is important and that the practice of citation is critical.
  • Are students struggling to find available resources for their course work? Are they being denied access to research or asked to pay for it? This is a great teaching moment! Talk to your students about why this research is unavailable. Second, it’s an even better time to recommend talking to a librarian and requesting items through our amazing (truly) interlibrary loan system.
  • Are you concerned with issues of inequality and access in your course? Here is a topic that may hit close to home. Unequal access to information not only stymies innovation, but it perpetuates the system that keeps people from the information they need to make important decisions or improve their lives. Students can see this first hand – their access to research is dependent on where they live, where they go to school or work.
  • Involve students in the open access publishing process. Digital Commons started as a platform for open access online journals, and it retains this capability. Students can create and run their own peer reviewed journals here on campus, and we have the tools to make it happen. There is no better way to learn about the scholarly publishing process than to experience it firsthand. View hundreds of student journals from colleges around the country here.

Image credit: Teaching at Paris, in a late 14th-century Grandes Chroniques de France: the tonsured students sit on the floor

Open Access Week Day 4: Is Your Work Still Yours? Author’s Rights

whyopenWe have made it to the fourth day of Open Access Week!  At this point, we helped answer the questions What is Open Access? and What are we doing at Connecticut College?  We only have two more days left and there is still so much to discuss! This post will be devoted to author’s rights – something that concerns our entire faculty.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

“Congratulations! Your paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Reputable Scholarship. Please sign and return the Copyright Transfer Agreement.”

Did you know that the standard Copyright Transfer Agreement actually transfers ALL rights associated with your work to the publisher? You are, of course, giving them the right to publish the article, but often you are transferring wholesale rights to your work. You will not be able to distribute your scholarship via Digital Commons or other online repositories like ResearchGate or, provide copies to colleagues or students(!), or reuse parts of it in upcoming publications (like books!). This is certainly more control than the publisher needs, and likely more than you want to hand over. The agreement varies by publisher, some publishers allow you to deposit a version into the digital repository, for example. Be sure to read the document carefully.

If you are unhappy with the agreement you are asked to sign, there ARE ways to work within the existing system, publish your work in the best journals in your field, and retain rights to your work. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) created the SPARC Author Addendum to to help you “secure your rights as the author of a journal article.” This addendum to the publisher’s agreement provides the publisher with the rights that it needs to publish your article, but allows you to retain some important rights to your work, including the right to include it in an institutional repository, reproduce it for colleagues and students, and to create derivative works. In addition, the agreement sends a message to the publisher that you value your intellectual property and desire to have the broadest readership possible.

Using the addendum is as simple as downloading a form, filling it out, and attaching it to your publisher’s agreement with a note calling attention to the addendum. The language is all there for you – no need to hire a lawyer or spend hours crafting a response to the publisher. Find out more and download the addendum here.

Tomorrow’s post, our last post for Open Access Week, will be about additional steps you can take to further the goals of open access.
Image Credit: Project 365 #303: 301009 Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY

Local to Global Open Access

CamelEarthHow are we promoting open access here at Connecticut College? How can you get involved in this global movement on a local level?

You already are! Connecticut College is one of a few progressive institutions that have formally adopted an open access policy. In 2013 faculty approved the “Open Access Policy of the Connecticut College Faculty” stating that the faculty “is committed to disseminating the results of its research and scholarly as widely as possible.”

In addition, Digital Commons @ Connecticut College, our institutional repository, makes participating in the policy easy for you. The repository stores your published work (if permissible by the publisher), archives the work, makes it discoverable through Google Scholar and other popular search engines, and reliably accessible to scholars regardless of institutional affiliation. Over the past year, student and faculty research papers in the repository have been downloaded 169,982 times. Who knows what new information will be created based on the research we made available? We are proud to help make your research openly available to scholars, independent researchers, students and lifelong learners around the world.

Don’t see your research in Digital Commons? Simply send Ben Panciera your CV or fill out the manuscript submission form on CamelWeb and his team will do the necessary research to determine what can be made available and post it for you.  You may be surprised at what can be included – most publishers, including Elsevier, Springer, and most university presses allow authors to place a version of their article in their school’s institutional repository.

Our next post for Open Access Week will focus knowing your rights before and after publishing.

Missed our previous Open Access Posts? Read Happy Open Access Week and What is Open Access?

What is Open Access?

Do you know what open access is? There are many myths surrounding open access. Take a minute (or a few) to learn about open access by watching these brief but informative videos.

Have 8 minutes? Watch Open Access Explained! by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen.

Only have one minute? Watch The Library Minute: Open Access from Arizona State University.

Tomorrow we’ll be posting about open access at Connecticut College. Missed yesterday’s post? Find it here!

Happy Open Access Week!

OAlogo (1)Happy Seventh Open Access Week! This week is a global celebration of the open access movement in scholarly research. Throughout this week I will use this blog to share information about open access. But first, why should you care about open access?

  • The price of access to scholarly research, the same research that you produce, is rising at a much higher rate than library budgets (over the past 30 years, 250% above the rate of inflation, according to the Association of Research Libraries). Simply, this means that fewer and fewer people have access to (your) quality research.
  • Publishing in open access publications, or negotiating your rights with a publisher to allow for broader dissemination of your research, increases exposure and use of your published research. Everyone wins!
  • Wide dissemination of research allows and encourages others to build upon existing knowledge to create new knowledge, regardless of the college/university they attend or funds they have to purchase research.

Stay tuned for the next installment…. What is Open Access.