Data Explorer

What Is It?

The Data Explorer is an online tool that allows the public to view and explore scientific datasets related to a particular topic. All of the included datasets have been curated by a group of researchers. Users can first view short illustrations of data, then they can click on a link to the actual dataset. After, users can create and upload their own stories about the datasets.

By introducing a novel way to combine and visualise various datasets chosen by scientific experts, the Data Explorer enables anyone to interact with and curate different data sources and encourages them to add their own data stories to this interactive space. This allows researchers to include non-experts in the research process.

Background

The Data Explorer was developed by ParCos researcher Natasha Tylosky during her research at Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT). The idea behind the data explorer is to provide a platform that encourages users to connect different datasets between various fields.

Scientific data is not always accessible to the general public. Even if data is open source, it can be difficult for people to access it especially if they lack a scientific or technical background. Non-scientists rarely get the opportunity to contribute to data that may be important to them or even directly related to them. Natasha’s solution to this was to build the Data Explorer.

How To Use

The Data Explorer uses a ‘constellation’ layout. Each constellation centres around a general topic, then each white point or ‘star’ represents a dataset, and every white circle represents a data story. Lines that connect different stars show if different data stories share a dataset. It is also possible to sort datasets by theme and location: stars that relate to a selected theme share the same colour, while stars relating to a selected location turn into a diamond.

You can scale this constellation visualization in or out, to the micro or macro level, to display different related datasets. In future versions of the Data Explorer, different constellations could potentially centre around different connected topics, helping users to identify new connections between different selected topics.

When To Use

The Data Explorer ideal for the ‘Sharing’ phase of the Bristol Approach. Use it to help you present your data after collecting it.

Explore Further

Based on the idea of the ‘commons’, this tool is open-source and collaboratively cared for.

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