I have some data from an experiment (which I did not design) that I'm supposed to analyze. After looking through the possible options for displaying the data to visually analyze, I believe that a radar plot would work if properly customized or weighted (the only other option I can imagine would be a scatter plot).

While I cannot post my actual data, I've made a mock up of the experiment that has the same general layout as what I have to work with. The file is here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1007Gb2lEaMtZ_N9LFrQEn2L35cHS7MlXBCF5AgbZ1Nk/edit?usp=sharing

Basically, there were three distances along a test cylinder at which data was collected. At each distance, the angular location of a local high value and the angular location of a local low value were recorded. As well, the actual low and high values were recorded.

Each record of the table contains the following:

(part_number, High_Location_A, Low_Location_A, High_Location_B, Low_Location_B, High_Location_C, Low_Location_C, High_Value_A, Low_Value_A, High_Value_B, Low_value_B, High_Value_C, Low_Value_C)

My goal is to find a trend in this data (I have almost 70 entries in the table to work with) and to be able to display it for analysis and explanation of findings.

An example would be fantastic, or even just advice on a better way to plot the data.

  • I can't find a way to post the document. How do I do it? Just edit your post to include a link to it, in text form if necessary, and someone with sufficient rep can edit your post to embed or activate the link. – HopelessN00b Jul 11 '14 at 12:54
  • Welcome to Superuser. Two things: to post something (since you don't have enough reputation yet), the best way is to upload it to a filesharing site (like dropbox) and provide a link. Usually, someone here will grab the file and add it to your question for you. Second, Radar Charts are notoriously difficult to read/interpret. Unless that's an industry standard for you, there's probably a better way. Can you give a little more detail about what "trend" you're looking to explore/explain? – dav Jul 11 '14 at 12:56
  • Honestly, I'm not completely sure what I'm supposed to be finding. This is an intern job where I was told "Find a trend if there is one". The reason I had selected the radar chart was to display average values at a visually representative location (using the angular measurements as my outer data points and the average values as the magnitudes). By no means is it an industry standard. – pheidlauf Jul 11 '14 at 15:04

Radar charts are pretty, but they are not effective at displaying information comprehensibly. Even if they weren't so ineffective, I don't know how I'd apply a radar chart to this kind of data.

You need to do some exploring of the data first. For this, simple line charts are probably the best way to start.

First, prepare the data. Delete the label in the top left cell. This will tell Excel that the first row (series names) and the first column (X values) are special)

Select the first column (including the blank cell) and the first six data columns, and create a line chart, with data in columns. This is a plot of the high/low locations. Select the first column and the last six data columns, and create a second line chart. This is a plot of the high/low values.

You may have to focus on only some of the data, like just the low values, or just the values for A.

enter image description here

  • Thanks for the advice. It turns out someone in my office has Origin Pro (which can create polar plots with ease), so shortly after finding this way of viewing the data in Excel, we were able to plot it perfectly in a different program as well. – pheidlauf Jul 14 '14 at 17:52
  • You can make these polar/radar plots easily enough in Excel. The point is that they are much less comprehensible than one might expect. – Jon Peltier Oct 7 '14 at 13:46

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