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Data Visualisation and Digital Scholarship Research: Types and Selected Tools

Below are some common types of data visualisation:

Some specific softwares for supporting the above data visualisation work are available at the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University Library. Please refer to Data Visualisation Software in CUHK Library for details.

Planar Visualisation (2D Area)

A cartogram is a map with geometry or space being distorted to convey the information of other alternate variables, such as population or travel time.

(Source: World Population Atlas. (2016). Worldmapper Gridded Population Cartograms,


Choropleth is a thematic map in which areas are patterned or shaded according to the measurement of a statistical variable, such as population density, temperature etc.

(Source: SpatioEpi.(2016). Hong Kong population projection by Tertiary Planning Unit (TPU) through 2020,


Dot Distribution Map
Dot distribution map is a map utilising dot symbols to create visual scatters and show spatial patterns.

(Source: Ho, C. (2016). Sun Yat-Sen Parks in the World. from Hong Kong Baptist University Library, History in Data,

Multidimensional Visualisation

A histogram is a diagram which consists of rectangles with their heights in proportion to the count and their widths equal to the range of small intervals for visualising data over a period of time.

Source: Wolf, M. (2015). An Introduction on How to Make Beautiful Charts With R and ggplot2,


Scatter Plot
A scatter plot refers to a series of points visualising values and discovering patterns of two variables.

(Source: The R Graph Gallery (2017). Polynomial Curve Fitting,


Pie Chart
A pie chart is divided into sectors to show the numerical proportion. The arc length of each sector is in proportion to the value it represents.

(Source: The Fusioncharts Blog (2009). How to Make a Better ‘Advertise’ Page for Your Website,

Temporal Visualisation

Time Series
A time series is a successive sequence of data points indexed in time order, for example, the rise of global temperature over the last century.

(Source: Hong Kong Weather Watch (2016). 201625W Haima Profile,


Gantt Chart
Gantt chart is commonly used in project management, displaying a list of events with their duration over time.

(Source: Efoza (2017). 3 Best Images of Research Proposal Gantt Chart,​)


Polar Area Diagram
Polar Area Diagram is a graph based on polar coordinate system. Each category of data is divided into equal segments on the diagram. The value of each segments is equal to its length or its distance extended from the center.

(Source: ExcelHowTo (2014). Nightingale Rose Diagram,

Network Visualisation

Node-Link Diagram
A node-link diagram explores the connection of data by using nodes as dots and links as line segments.

(Source: Beautiful Data (2012). Pastagram,

Infographics and Other Types of Visualisation

As a combination of pictures, figures, and text, infographics is a popular tool of data visualisation to present facts and stories. 

(Source: CBRE (2017). HKSAR’s 20th Anniversary

In a pictogram chart, the icons represent the subject or category of your data.  For example, in the chart below, the icons of people represent population. Each icon represents one unit of number.  In the case below, each icon is equal to 1 million people.  

(Source: Undullify (2015). Data Visualization 101: How to Visualize the Most Common Simple Data Points​)

Word Cloud
Being a text analysis tool, word cloud is an image in which the size of a word indicates its frequency or importance. 

(Source: Voyant Tools,