Graphs and diagrams

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Line and bar graphs


  • Simple- to show a single set of data
  • Compound- if data can be sub-divide into 2 or more sets of data
  • Comparitive- comparing 2 sets of data on the same axis 
  • Divergent- where the x axis is in the middle so both negative and postive data points can be shown on one set of axis


  • Simple- Single series of data in categories
  • Comparitive- show 2 sets of data on the same graph
  • Compound- Show how the total in one bar is divided up between a number of subtotals 
  • Divergent- same as divergent line graph but with categories 
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Scatter graphs and best fit lines

  • The relationship between two sets of variables is shown. The line of best fit allows analysis of the data to be made. 
  • Independant variable along the x axis
  • Dependent variable along the y axis


  • Easy to spot anomalies
  • Strength of correlation can be confirmed using a statistical test
  • The line of best fit can be used to predict future data sets


  • Doesnt show cause and effect
  • 'overplotting' can be an issue with lots of similar results
  • Have to have continuous data
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Pie charts

  • Total divided by different sets (%) X 306 = proportions


  • Clear visual representation of the data
  • Able to compare easily 
  • Relitively easy to construct


  • May not show numerical data
  • May get overcrowded if there are too many divisions
  • Nominal data only 
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Triangular graphs

A scatter graph which shows 3 variables and how they are interrelated


  • Visual relation of 3 data sets and how they link
  • % are plotted which are especially easy to compare
  • Shows clusters of data


  • Raw data must be converted into %
  • Can be difficult to interpret, especially if there is a lot of data. 
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Radial graphs

  • Often show direction eg.wind speed + direction
  • The points on the outside can be compass points or months of the year etc
  • The distance the bars reach from the centre shows the size of the variable
  • Most common radial diagram is a wind rose
  • Used for continual cycles


  • Displays multiple data variables
  • Visual


  • Suitable only for continuous data
  • May only show general trends if based on averages
  • Can be difficult to read/ interpret.
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Logarithmic graph

  • Lets you fit very wide range of data onto one axis without having to draw a huge graph
  • Semi- Log is when the Y axis is logarithmic and the X axis linear.
  • Full-log is when both axis are logarithmic 
  • Used for population graphs due to the huge range


  • Allows you to work with large range of numbers
  • Shows overall trend/ unseen patterns that normal graphs cant show 


  • Positive and negative values cannot be plotted on same graph
  • 0 cant be plotted
  • Makes accuratly reading off the scale hard 
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Dispersion diagrams

  • Box and whisker plots use to show the spread around the mean 
  • Cross between a tally chart and a bar chart
  • range of data on 1 axis and frequency on the other
  • Each dot represents one piece of information
  • Doesnt give you the precise data points as it is grouped together in intervals
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Kite diagrams

  • Thickness shows number/percentage of each data set at a point in time
  • Thickness is balanced equally above and below the line
  • Used usually to plot species distribution along a transect


  • Visual representation of change and progress over a specific distance
  • Uses raw data and %
  • Comparisons can be made between different species


  • Limited to transect lines
  • Only suitable for specific data with specific purpose
  • Visually subjective- the scale can affect the diagram
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