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Final Portfolio


For the final portfolio project, you will formulate a research question that interests you, find a dataset to address that question, and create a series of three visualizations that provides insight into your question. Your final portfolio will most likely draw on your academic discipline or personal interests. Start this project with a research question and then search for data that can address it. Once you have the question/topic and the data, then you can consider how best to visualize it. We've provided a sizable list of resources that you can draw from, although these are only suggestions.

This project is unlike the first two blog posts in two ways. First, you will have the opportunity to iterate on feedback from the PinUp and a broader presentation before the final submission (and will therefore have 2 weeks to work on it). Correspondingly, the scope should be larger and the topic should be something you are truly interested in. Secondly, you may use any visualization technique you wish. Many of you may decide to build a digital series in Tableau, but if you'd prefer to utilize an analog method (illustrations, art installation, sewing, performance, etc.) for your visualization, outline the details in your proposal to discuss with Michelle and Erin.

By the end of this project, you will be able to:

  • Leverage data visualization in research specific to your discipline
  • Create a cohesive series of several visualizations that build on each other
  • Present drafts of your work and incorporate the feedback your live audience provides

PART I: Project Proposal

DUE 6pm Friday, June 15 (10%)

You will submit, via email, an approximately 1 page project proposal that addresses:

  1. Your research question. Your research goal can take the shape of a question, topic, or title, but it must be coherent and addressable by this data set and through a visualization. We expect your research question will develop as you work with the data set. This should be more in line with a research question you would pose for a final paper. For example, your project may start with "What portion of American discourse on gun control is really about guns?"
  2. Your audience. Who would benefit from an answer to your research question? Why does this question matter to them? This may be situated within your discipline and draw on those theoretical tensions or it can be broad and appropriate for a general audience. You can give narrative context or a very direct statement of what is at stake. As you begin to design your visualization, consider what functionality (such as filters or tooltips) would benefit this audience the most.
  3. The data you will use to address your question. You must include what dataset you plan to use, where you got it, and how it is formatted (and your data cleaning plan, if applicable).
  4. A sketch of how you plan to visualize your data. The sketch must be visual, preferably hand drawn. If you'd prefer, you may sketch it on a computer in a program such as Gimp, Tayuski Sketches for iPhone, Medibang Paint, etc. This sketch should not be a computer generated graph or other visual at this point in the process. It should be your initial ideas about what your visualization's ideal form might be to best answer the research question you've proposed. Attach a picture of this sketch to your email.

We will provide you with feedback by Friday night at midnight. We cannot take late submissions, but can take early ones. This timeframe is to ensure that what you have planned is reasonable and realistic. If we have revisions, you will not need to submit a revised proposal. However, if there are major changes that need to be made, we may ask to schedule a video chat over the weekend to help reframe your project.

PART II: Visualization and Blog Post

First Draft DUE 12midnight Sunday, June 17 | Final Portfolio DUE 12midnight Sunday, June 24 (75%)

You will publish a blog post on your GitHub pages that includes the following components. This written component should be approximately 500-1,000 words.

  1. Your research question. We understand that your research question may have evolved or completely changed since you submitted your proposal. However, your blog post must be cohesive. Its description and analysis must reflect the question or topic you have addressed in this version of your visualization.
  2. Your audience. Describe the audience this visualization aims to serve.
  3. A written description of your visualization. Explain your visualization in terms that a data novice would understand. Your goal is to make your work approachable. At this point in your post, anyone who has come across your site should understand what your research question is, why this topic matters to your audience, and how to read and interact with your visualization.
  4. Your embedded visualization. Your visualization should be published on your Tableau Public Profile and embedded in your blog post. It should retain all the interactive functionality you built in Tableau.
  5. An explanation of the data and design decisions you made. This section should illustrate what you did and why you did it. Why did you choose the type of chart/graph/visualization that you did? How does that choice best represent the data and address your question? Through this explanation, you will illustrate that the decisions you made were intentional and how they contribute to the project. You should also explain any limitations you encountered and any subsequent compromises you made with the data or your design.
  6. Next steps. Finally, explain where you could take this project in the future. What would the immediate and more complex next steps look like? What improvements, developments, or alterations in scope would you make?

PART III: Pin Up & Presentation

Pin Up DUE in class June 18 | Presentations DUE in class on June 20 or 21 (15%)

In addition to the pin up and critique on Monday, June 18, we will use June 20 and June 21 for students to present their final portfolio to a broader audience. Each student will have the opportunity to receive thoughtful feedback about their work and offer the same to their peers. You must be present in class for both events. Since critique is essential but ephemeral, if you have extenuating circumstances that prohibit you from attending either session, contact Michelle and Erin in advance to make arrangements.

Some notes

You can use as many or as few visuals to address your question/topic as you wish and as you feel is appropriate. We expect that you will turn things in before you feel they are complete. That is normal. You can continue to iterate on them until you are satisfied, but the first version must be completed by Sunday night (we will re-assess the grade if appropriate).

Finally, we expect that the end product (from the website to the visualizations) will be reflective of you and your style and that everyone's will be very different. The objective is that you will have a portfolio of work at the end of the semester that illustrates your visualization skills. If you already have a portfolio or a personal site, talk to us about how to incorporate the two.


Part I (10%)

10/10 for submitting on time. As noted, we cannot take late submissions, but can take early ones.

Part II (75%)

As we examine your blog post and visualizations, we will consider the following elements:

  • Appropriate choice of visualizations (20)
    • The visualization type addresses the research question
    • The choice of graph or chart represents the data truthfully
  • Effective Communication (20)
    • Intended message is communicated clearly
    • Data are accurately represented without distortion
  • Design and Aesthetics (20)
    • All elements and features of the visualization have a communicative function
    • The visualization has a thoughtful layout and an intentional design
    • Title, headings, labels create helpful context and have appropriate sizes, locations, spellings
  • Content of Blog Post (15)
    • The blog provides helpful context that makes the visualization more understandable and approachable
    • The writing provides the reader an inside look into the visualization's intent and creation process
    • All components of blog post are addressed
    • Decisions are in line with good visualization practices (see Data Points and Storytelling with Data)

Part III (15%)

15/15 for actively participating in the pin up and in the in class presentation of your work. We will look to see how you incorporate the feedback you receive during these two sessions in the final portfolio you submit on Sunday, June 24.