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Resource Spotlight: Social Explorer

by Elizabeth DiPrince on 2018-03-29T15:30:58-05:00 in Research Tips | Comments

Statistics are a powerful way to analyze trends and changes within society, healthcare, politics, etc. Placing those statistics in a visual format can help demonstrate those trends and changes more clearly. One tool the library has which can do this is Social Explorer. This resource takes data from publicly available surveys, such as the U.S. Census, FBI Crime Data, U.S. Election Data, Health Data, etc, and gives you the ability to see and manipulate that information in a map format.  A full listing of surveys used in this tool can be found in its Data Dictionary.

Social Explorer was used to created the map below which shows population density in the United States in 2016 based on the American Community Survey done by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

 

The map can be further changed by selecting the Change Data button at the top. Options are given based on the information available in the survey data. 

Additional, the focus of the map can be narrowed to an area of interest and the Visualization type used to represent the data can also be changed. Using these features I was able to create the map below showing Arkansas and surrounding states, with bubbles representing households with incomes above 100,000 in 2016.

There are many other customization features in Social Explorer including the ability to compare two data sets with maps side by side and the ability to adjust colors and heading. Maps created can be easily shared, embedded into websites, and downloaded for use in papers and presentations. 

When using Social Explorer, make sure to understand what survey data is being used on the map. If you are unsure, click on the "i" in the red circle and it will give you the complete information about the survey and link you to the data. Also, when looking at survey data over time, remember that changes are made to surveys over the years. Data in one survey may not be available in the same survey from a different time period.

Hopefully, you will take the time to explore this fun and enlightening tool.


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