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Region 5 Blog November 27th, 2021
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DataFlash: Brent Dykes’ “Effective Data Storytelling” Book Review

Posted by on September 27th, 2021 Posted in: Blog, Data Science, Training & Education
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These days, there are so many books on data storytelling that claim to do an effective job of explaining how to give impactful data narratives. Lately, I have to go through a pilBooks Logoe of books to find one that really works, sort of like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I stumbled across Brent Dykes’ book “Effective Data Storytelling” when it was first released back in December 2019, but just didn’t have the time to read it.  Finally, I set some reading time aside to read this gem of a book.  I’m so happy that I did!!!

Dykes’ “Effective Data Storytelling” uses fascinating and well-balanced historical stories and anecdotes to explain effective data storytelling; he obviously spent a great deal of time researching the history of data storytelling and data visualizations because it shows in his work!  He not only features historical facts about male pioneers that dominate the data visualization field and data visualization references like Edward Tufte but features historical facts about less talked about female influencers like the nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale and her influential statistical data visualization that demonstrated the disproportionate number of deaths due to infectious diseases rather than to battle injuries in order to convince British army leaders at the time that they needed to adopt better sanitary measures.  Her influential data visualizations on sanitary reforms ended up saving the lives of many British soldiers during both peacetime and during military conflicts.

In short, Dykes’ book on “Effective Data Storytelling” is exactly it.  He teaches about the three pillars of effective data storytelling which he identifies and elaborately but elegantly explains as being data, narrative, and visuals. Dykes goes into quite the detail to explain the psychology, ethics, and anatomy of a great data story.  I thoroughly enjoyed and updated my data storytelling knowledge through reading this great book.  The only thing I regret is not reading this book sooner!!!

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Image of the author ABOUT Nancy Shin
I received my Bachelor of Science in the Integrated Sciences majoring in medical genetics and animal biology from the University of British Columbia (UBC). I also graduated from UBC's esteemed MLIS program with a focus on health librarianship. In 2018, I was the Research Data Management Sewell Fund Fellow for the Technology Incubator at Washington State University. Currently, I'm the NNLM Region 5's Outreach and Data Coordinator for the University of Washington's Health Sciences Library. In my spare time, I enjoy photography, drawing, cooking and baking, and travelling the world!!!

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Developed resources reported in this program are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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