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ME301: Measurement & Experimentation Laboratory

Unit 2: Graphical and Tabular Data Presentation   Standard styles for presenting data in graphical and tabular form have evolved over time for efficiency of data communication.  Contemporary computer tools for data presentation allow us to use such styles in order to generate graphics.  Even with these tools, the user must still determine the most appropriate format for conveying the desired information and appropriately labeling the graphic.  This unit will introduce several formats for concise data presentation that will be useful in subsequent work.

The information presented in this unit should supplement your coursework in ME304: Engineering Communication and ME101: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering.  For complex graphics, you should refer to ME101: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering, but one message bears repeating: title and caption all graphics, label all axes, provide a key for all symbols, and specify whether error bars are one or two standard deviations.

You probably have access to several utilities for creating graphical presentations of data.  The list below contains topics that you should explore in your own graphical data analysis utility.  As a start, you may wish to read or refer to one or more of the following. After you have skimmed these resources, you should review them to make sure that you have a grasp of the following concepts.  You should practice using each of the ideas below in a computer environment of your choice.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit should take you 6 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.3: 1 hour

☐    End of Unit Self-Assessment: 1 hour

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Create two-dimensional graphs and charts of data.
  • Label and annotate graphs appropriately.
  • Use appropriate computer-based tools for simple data analysis and graphic generation.

  • Reading: NIST/SEMATECH’s e-Handbook of Statistical Methods (2010): “A Gallery of Graphical Techniques” Link: NIST/SEMATECH’s e-Handbook of Statistical Methods (2010): “A Gallery of Graphical Techniques” (PDF)
     
    Also available in:

    EPUB

    Instructions: If in need of inspiration for graphical analysis and presentation of data, it may be helpful to refer to the linked material above.  Many of the plotting techniques are useful for very specific experimental situations.  You may wish to skim through a few of the descriptions to get a feel for the types of plots that other people have used.
     
    Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain. 

  • Reading: The Evil Tutor: Markus Weichselbaum (University of Western Australia)’s “How Not to Create Graphs and Figures” Link: The Evil Tutor: Markus Weichselbaum (University of Western Australia)’s “How Not to Create Graphs and Figures” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this (tongue-in-cheek) document.  Although many of the tips may seem obvious, it is important to have such a list of common errors in mind when creating a graph for a document in the late stages of preparation, when all participants are tired and the thinking may not be clear.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Prince George’s Community College: S. Sinex and B. Gage’s “Using Excel for Handling, Graphing, and Analyzing Scientific Data” Link: Prince George’s Community College: S. Sinex and B.  Gage’s “Using Excel for Handling, Graphing, and Analyzing Scientific Data” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Scroll down to about halfway down the page and download the “Excel(2003)” file under “Data Handling and Analysis….”  Read this pamphlet and learn to manipulate data in a spreadsheet in order to create a graph.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.1 Formatting Two Dimensional Graphics   2.1.1 Histograms and Bar Graphs   2.1.2 Line Graphs   2.1.3 Scatterplots   2.2 Labels   2.3 Error Bars   Unit 2 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's "ME301: Unit 2 Quiz" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "ME301: Unit 2 Quiz"

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