Using graphs instead of tables in political science

Jonathan P. Kastellec, Eduardo L. Leoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations

Abstract

When, political scientists present empirical results, they are much more likely to use tables than graphs, despite the fact that graphs greatly increases the clarity of presentation and makes it easier for a reader to understand the data being used and to draw clear and correct inferences. Using a sample of leading journals, we document this tendency and suggest reasons why researchers prefer tables. We argue that the extra work required in producing graphs is rewarded by greatly enhanced presentation and communication of empirical results. We illustrate their benefits by turning several published tables into graphs, including tables that present descriptive data and regression results. We show that regression graphs emphasize point estimates and confidence intervals and that they can successfully present the results of regression models. A move away from tables towards graphs would improve the discipline's communicative output and make empirical findings more accessible to every type of audience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)755-771
Number of pages17
JournalPerspectives on Politics
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations

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