Category Archives: Data visualization tips and tricks

Dos and don’ts for a heatmap color scale

Heatmaps. We see them all over the scientific journals – the shading matrices that convey meaningful stories. Wanna interpret gene expressions? Draw a heatmap. Gotta examine the correlation among variables? Get it done with a heatmap. It seems that the shading has breathed such life into those cheerless matrices of… Read more »

How to read PCA biplots and scree plots

Principal component analysis (PCA) has been gaining popularity as a tool to bring out strong patterns from complex biological datasets. We have answered the question “What is a PCA?” in this jargon-free blog post — check it out for a simple explanation of how PCA works. In a nutshell, PCA… Read more »

How to compare box plots

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Box plots, a.k.a. box-and-whiskers plots, are an excellent way to visualize differences among groups. They manage to carry a lot of statistical details — medians, ranges, outliers — without looking intimidating. But box plots are not always intuitive to read. How do you compare two box plots? The key information… Read more »

More on how to compare box plots

We showed a quick and easy way to compare box plots in previous post. Let’s dig deeper into what information you can use to compare two box plots. Overlapping boxes and medians It gets tricky when the boxes overlap and their median lines are inside the overlap range. As always,… Read more »

5 reasons you should use a violin graph

1. Violin graph is like box plot, but better Box-and-whisker plots are great. They show medians, ranges and variabilities effectively. They allow comparing groups of different sizes. They are super simple to create and read, so naturally, they are all over the place. But box plots can be misleading. They… Read more »

How to craft a figure legend for scientific papers

Writing a scientific paper? Preparing for publication? Making a poster for a conference tomorrow? Let’s face it: People will skim through the body text of your paper/poster, and only look at the figures. We all love figures. They catch eyes, they deliver information effectively, they highlight your results. Figures are… Read more »