Friday, February 24
CS01 Presentation and Storytelling Fri, Feb 24, 9:15 AM - 10:45 AM
River Terrace 2

The Statistician’s Role in Data Storytelling Projects: Case Studies and Best Practices (303370)

Maggie Mulvihill, Boston University 
Jeff Paadre, Boston University 
*Haviland Wright, Boston University 

Keywords: data storytelling, collaboration, visualization, best practices

Data storytelling is a well-established means for organizing ideas and analysis as narration. Stories are fundamental to human communication and are capable of efficiently conveying many levels of meaning. Data-driven stories can be highly memorable vehicles that deliver both emotive and logical information. Combining narration, visualization, and data analysis, data-driven stories can provide an especially effective means for informing decision makers, expressing strategic plans, or conveying information that must be easily recalled.

The data storytelling perspective favors simplicity, relies on graphics that deliver impact through clarity, and strives to deliver the same story in words, graphics, and data with a minimum of data analytic detail. The challenge of minimal data analytic detail is the possibility that a data-driven story may suggest more generalization than the data support, leaving unclear the extent to which a story is defensible, reproducible, or complete.

This presentation addresses these issues based on our experience in collaborative projects between Boston University’s Journalism program in the School of Communication and the Master of Science in Statistical Practice program. Our collaboration has included data journalism projects and participation in Boston University Data Storytelling workshops. Our experience is that effective collaboration between storytellers and statisticians can reduced to basic principles and taught. The presentation will use case studies to illustrate key points and suggest best practices for statisticians working on analyses for data storytelling.