Client Story University of Oxford 2017-07-25T15:27:17+00:00

Making Research Data Visible at Oxford

University of Oxford

IT Services, at the University of Oxford is helping academics to create interactive data visualisations for their websites and publications. These visualizations help explain the meaning and relevance of research, and encourage others to reuse data.

Challenge

Conveying results to others effectively is a fundamental part of research. Bespoke interactive data visualisations are increasingly popular with researchers because they communicate results in a way that lets others engage the data directly, rather than through the fixed lens of a static article.

Solution

Using R, the RStudio IDE, RStudio Shiny and shinyapps.io, the team created pre-built Shiny app templates and tutorials for interactive tables, a range of charts, maps, and network diagrams. Our goal is to continuously reduce the time and effort needed, whilst broadening the range of data visualizations we can support.

We do not upload research data to shinyapps.io, instead the latest version of a dataset is always pulled from a recognized data repository e.g. the University’s Ora-Data service, Figshare or Zenodo. This means we always visualise data fully referenced with an Orcid ID, DOI, metadata etc.

Why RStudio

We chose RStudio / Shiny because:

  • There are a large number of R users at the University
  • The R developer community is very active, and constantly improving and adding features
  • It is possible to create wide range of visualizations without needing javascript / HTML
  • The Shiny server software is provided as a cost-effective hosted service, and can be migrated to on-premise in the future if need be e.g. for integration with institutional login

Next Steps

Our current development focus is visualization of larger and relational datasets i.e. where the dataset cannot be loaded into browser memory.

We are currently transitioning from project to service – to see our latest work visit the Interactive Data Network website.

IDNWebsite

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About RStudio

RStudio provides open source and enterprise-ready professional software for the R community. We are inspired by the people who use our products to understand and improve the world through data analysis.