Data cleaning tips

Aug 7, 2015

When you first learn statistics, visualization, or any data-related subject, the data usually is given to you in a ready-to-use format. This is so that you can spend most of your time on the topic of interest. But once you step outside the learning bubble, data rarely comes in the format you want.

Marc Bellemare, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota, provides some practical tips on how to deal with this. Bellemare’s parting advice:

Really, there is no big secret to cleaning data other than “Document everything” and to save everything in different files and in different locations (i.e., your computer, Dropbox, Google Drive), and there is no other way to learn data cleaning than by doing it.

Yep.

Some of the tips are in the context of specific software environment, but you can easily apply them to more general situations.

Favorites

Unemployment in America, Mapped Over Time

Watch the regional changes across the country from 1990 to 2016.

10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2015

These are my picks for the best of 2015. As usual, they could easily appear in a different order on a different day, and there are projects not on the list that were also excellent.

Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

For various occupations, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.

Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.