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Data Literacy
A User's Guide

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February 2015 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
A practical, skill-based introduction to data analysis and literacy  

We are swimming in a world of data, and this handy guide will keep you afloat while you learn to make sense of it all. In Data Literacy: A User's Guide, David Herzog, a journalist with a decade of experience using data analysis to transform information into captivating storytelling, introduces students and professionals to the fundamentals of data literacy, a key skill in today’s world. Assuming the reader has no advanced knowledge of data analysis or statistics, this book shows how to create insight from publicly-available data through exercises using simple Excel functions. Extensively illustrated, step-by-step instructions within a concise, yet comprehensive, reference will help readers identify, obtain, evaluate, clean, analyze and visualize data. A concluding chapter introduces more sophisticated data analysis methods and tools including database managers such as Microsoft Access and MySQL and standalone statistical programs such as SPSS, SAS and R. 

 
Chapter 1: Data Defined
Climbing the pyramid

 
A brief history of the data world

 
Data file formats

 
 
Chapter 2: Clues for uncovering data
Why agencies collect, analyze, publish data

 
Clues from data entry

 
Clues from reports

 
Tricks to uncover forms and reports

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 3: Online databases
Destination: data portals

 
Statistical stockpiles

 
Agency sites

 
Non-governmental resources

 
Data search tricks

 
Don’t forget the road map

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 4: Identifying and requesting offline data
Other clues for offline data

 
Find the data nerd

 
Requesting the data

 
Writing the data request

 
FOIA in action

 
Negotiating through obstacles

 
Getting help

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 5: Data dirt is everywhere
All data are dirty

 
Detecting dirt in agricultural data

 
Changed rules = changed data

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 6: Data integrity checks
Big-picture checks

 
Detailed checks

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 7: Getting your data in shape
Column carving

 
Concatenate to paste

 
Date tricks

 
Power scrubbing with OpenRefine

 
Extracting data from PDFs

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 8: Number summaries and comparisons
Simple summary statistics

 
Compared to what?

 
Benchmarking

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 9: Calculating summary statistics and number comparisons
Sum crimes by year

 
Minimum and maximum numbers

 
Amount change

 
Stepping up to percent change

 
Running rates

 
Running ratios

 
Percent of total

 
More summarizing

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 10: Spreadsheets as database managers
Sorting

 
Filtering records

 
Grouping and summarizing

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 11: Visualizing your data
Data visualization defined

 
Some best practices

 
 
Chapter 12: Charting choices
Visualizing data with charts

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 13: Charting in Excel
Pie chart

 
Horizontal bar charts

 
Column and line charts

 
Scatterplot

 
Stock chart

 
Sparklines

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 14: Charting with Web tools
Online visualization options

 
Evaluating web visualization platforms

 
Creating Fusion Table charts

 
On your own

 
 
Chapter 15: Taking analysis to the next level
Database managers

 
Statistical programs

 

Supplements

Student Study Site

The open-access Student Study Site includes the following:

  • Easy to use data sets for lessons
  • "On Your Own"exercises aimed to help students test their data literacy

Great overview of the data process using spreadsheets, which seems reachable for our students.

Ms Miren Berasategi
Communications, University of Deusto in San Sebastian
June 3, 2019

It is a very useful and easy-to-follow book. I intend to recommend it to my students as a complimentary source to gain an understanding of the context, concepts and main steps for doing data driven journalism.

Mrs Özlem Erkmen
Communication Sciences, Dogus University
February 15, 2018

A very useful book, and I am using it as a supplemental text. The book uses Excel as the analytic tool -- normally a very good choice -- be we are using SPSS in the class. I have recommended the students buy their own copies if they intend to conduct analyses on their own or for their employer in the future, where SPSS may not be available.

Dr Robert Griffin
College Of Commmunication, Marquette University
November 28, 2014
Key features

KEY FEATURES:

  • A unique approach weaves background information about data with practical, hands-on lessons that develop fundamental research skills all students  should understand
  • Easy-to-follow tutorials provide readers with step-by-step instructions to quickly begin analyzing data without having advanced knowledge of data analysis or statistics
  • Extensive illustrations throughout the book demonstrate to readers how to understand data
  • End-of-chapter On Your Own exercises challenge readers to develop their skills through easy-to-use data files and questions to reinforce the chapter learning objectives
  • Student Study Site includes data sets that readers can use to test their data literacy

      

 

 

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 7

Chapter 13


Preview this book

For instructors

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