Graphs represent data in an engaging manner and make comparisons and analyses easier. For example, a graph depicting the number of crimes committed each year over a decade is easier to comprehend visually than reading the numerical values for each year. Before creating a graph, however, it is important to choose one that appropriately represents the data. A histogram, rather than a pie chart, is appropriate for depicting the age groups (e.g., 15 34) of murder victims in a city. Histograms are designed to be used with variables that are categorized, but pie charts plot each value. Therefore, it would be easier to read a histogram showing bars for age groups of murder victims than a pie chart in which every single age would have to be plotted. In the past, creating graphs was cumbersome and time consuming, but present-day software programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel provide tutorials that walk you through the process. With knowledge of these software programs, you can create customized charts and figures to represent your research data in visually interesting ways.
To prepare for this assignment:
Review the assigned pages in Chapter 12 of your course text, The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice (4th ed.). Pay particular attention to how graphs can be used to represent specific types of research results and data.
Review the video “Demo: Different Ways to Plot Worksheet Data in a Chart” to see how you can use the Excel Chart Wizard to create graphs. Note: Mac users should review the Microsoft Office Online website Creating Charts at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel/CH010003731033.aspx.
Create at least two different graphs in Excel or Word that can be used to illustrate the following hypothetical data related to five incidents of crime: