STEMskiller: Skill Set Map for Mentors of Early Career Researchers

RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP: Academic reading and writing

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Reading and interpreting graphs, plots, & statistical data


Graphs are often used in science to present/represent data. Mentees should be able to critically read and interpret graphical representations of data and be able to understand problematic, misleading graphing practices such as scale distortions (logarithmic scale, multiplying the effect in 2D, choosing a selected “slice” or perspective) or data selection distortions.

Useful resources on Reading and interpreting graphs, plots, statistical data:

Inigo, M., Jameson, J., Kozak, K., Lanzetta, M., & Sonier, K. (2020). College Mathematics in Everyday Life.

Includes guidelines for conducting a statistical study as well as steps for determining whether a study is believable or not with questions to ask, examples—including for misleading graphs.

Kaslik, P. (2020). Foundations in Statistical Reasoning: 3: Examining the Evidence using Graphs and Statistics.

Discusses types of data, examining the evidence with sample data; examining the evidence provided by sample categorical data; proportions and pie charts; examining the evidence provided by sample quantitative data; arithmetic mean, variance, and standard deviation; and scatter plots and correlation. 

Khan Academy. (2020). Statistics & Probability: Interpreting Categorical and Quantitative Data.

Learning areas include: Comparing data distributions, standard deviation of a population, comparing data distributions, normal distribution: area between two points, empirical rule, normal distribution: area above or below a point, calculating z-scores, trends in categorical data, fitting quadratic and exponential functions to scatter plots, correlation coefficient intuition, and types of statistical studies.

Tags: IPS IA; IPS QL; IPS PS; IAL IntL; CompQ, CompTS

Peer Review: None

Table of contents:


Author: Stephanie Krueger

Peer Reviewer(s): None

Last Updated: October 22, 2021


Editor: Stephanie Krueger Last modified: 22.10. 2021 15:10