As you may have noticed, posting has been sluggish lately, and this means I have a backlog of submissions. So please be patient if you sent something to me.
Alex C., at NUS, wasn't so patient so he wrote up his own post on this gaping chart from Accenture reporting on a survey of people's attitudes towards health care. In particular, Alex does a great job taking down the questions in the survey: for appetizers, he noted "So, the interviewees were asked 'Do you think it’s important to focus on delivering real improvements in the overall health of the nation?' I wonder who answered no?"
(Amusing aside: I fibbed. Alex wasn't impatient. He just couldn't believe how rude I was. After spending some unsavory time manually eyeballing the data from these charts, I accidentally emailed the spreadsheet to Alex, thinking that I was emailing myself. So Alex received a reply from me, with the spreadsheet attached but with no comments, and he figured I couldn't be bothered. Perhaps I "gave minimalist, Ripleyesque replies", he wondered.)
Well, I digress. There are a few other problems with this "radar" chart that Alex was too kind to overlook:
- All of the information is in the radius from the center of the circle to individual dots and yet lines were drawn to connect dots into a ragged circle, drawing attention away from the information
- Only on one quadrant was the scale of the radii provided, which frustrated me to no end when I tried to "eyelift" the data off the charts
- There are slips in craftsmanship as some of the dots seem to fall out of place, e.g. on this particular chart, the two dots for "issue 16" does not seem to be aligned with the label 16, similarly something seems off with the dots for "issue 13". (These minor slips become very obvious when you are lifting data off the charts.)
- Each category contains four questions and occupy one quadrant but the way the information is arranged on this chart type, one cannot visually aggregate the four individual scores to arrive at a category score.
Even more fundamentally, what data are being plotted? Turns out this is convoluted:
- For each of the 16 "issues", respondents are asked to rate the importance and the government's performance on separate 5-point scales.
- The top 2 points are considered "favorable", and the data depicted are the top-2-point proportions.
So the "gap" that Accenture consultants have stuck their fingers into is the proportion of respondents rating the government's role in an issue as "very important" or "essential" minus the proportion of respondents rating the government performance on that same issue as "fairly well" or "very well".
Just to surface another problem: from these charts, it's clear that people in different countries approach 5-point scales differently. Perhaps in some countries (see right), they just fill out a "straight-ticket" vote for all issues?!
Thanks Alex for bringing this to our attention.
The PDF of the Accenture report is here.