Research Guides

Analyzing & Visualizing Data

This is a guide to web applications and downloadable software that can help you analyze and visualize data.

Guide to Analyzing & Visualizing Data

This guide was developed as part of a series of workshops on "Data for Social Justice."

Related guides:

Finding data

Mapping data


Related web guides

Essential Collection of Visualisation Resources (

Visualization Tools (

Social Justice Through Data (tips for engaging viewers from MIT blog)

Basic chart and graph applications

Datawrapper Upload your data (as CSV) or copy/paste it into this free web application to make a quick chart that is publishable to the web.

Google Public Data Easily create line, bar, and bubble graphs from publicly available data sets and metrics. Add/edit data to create more than 30 chart types that you can combine with text to create compelling infographics.

More sophisticated options

Tableau Public Free downloadable software that works well with survey data, allowing you to filter data and recode variables, as well as create a variety of charts and graphs.

SDA (Survey Documentation Analysis) Developed at UC Berkeley, SDA is a web-based tool that is integrated into various collections of survey data, including the General Social Survey (GSS) and the American National Election Study (ANES), as well as microdata found in the Integrated Public User Microdata Series (IPUMS) which includes a more fine-grained version of Census data. 

Gephi Open source platform for visualizing networks and complex systems, including dynamic and hierarchical graphs.

Fully featured analytic software

The following professional-grade software packages allow you to manipulate and visualize quantitative data in very complex ways:

  • SAS - Powerful statistical analysis and data management tool, uses command-line interface, particularly good for ANOVA
  • SPSS - Relatively sophisticated data analysis tool, with a user-friendly GUI, geared toward quantitative social sciences data
  • R - Free, versatile option for data analysis and visualization

Each of these statistical packages are available through CUNY Virtual Desktop, except for R, which is downloadable from

How do I choose?

Choosing statistical software (online video, 36 minutes)

Brief comparison between SAS, STATA, and SPSS (PDF)

Choosing the correct statistical test in SAS, STATA, SPSS, and R Institute for Digital Education & Research, UCLA)

Other interesting tools

Open Refine (formerly Google Refine) makes it easier to clean up messy data and convert it into different formats.

Tabula is a tool for liberating data tables from PDFs.

GraphClick allows you to retrieve (x,y) coordinate data from the image of a scanned graph.

Themed visualization applications

World Bank DataBank uses "bubble charts" to display social, economic, and health data from over 200 countries.

Gapminder is a tool for exploring and comparing global development indicators

Sunlight Foundation makes available a number of visualization tools related to politics and transparency, including "Lobbying Tracker" which tracks lobbying activity and "Capitol Words" which explores the most popular words and phrases used by legislators in the U.S. Congress.