Visual data display in the form of infographics are popping up all over the internet, for good reason. They give you a quick glimpse of take-away facts. Pictures help us remember information. Certainly it's more interesting to look at pleasingly-displayed factoids than to read an entire research article.
One of my goals for the new year is to get better at sharing visual data, especially in my own research and collected data, because it is one way to help move research to practice- to get people sharing and enthused about specific findings. I stumbled upon a tool for creating an infographics and put together my first one using NASW Salary Survey data. I chose this data because of my interest in workforce, and also because it helps dispel a popular myth- that social workers take a vow of poverty out of their love for people.
I suspect some of my blog readers will stumble on this and guffaw at the idea that $34 an hour is the average social work salary. If you want to know more about participants and polling of this sample, please have a look at the NASW report, based on 2009 data of over 20,000 social workers. Also keep in mind that this is not an average starting salary ($43k is the average salary for those with under 5 years experience polled in this report)- this is the average of all people polled, with varying positions and levels of experience. It appears that all participants were members of a professional organization (NASW or another expertise-specific group); we might assume that social workers who pay professional dues are more likely to be among the higher earners or more professionally engaged. Only data from fully employed workers is reported. All levels of the degree (BSW, MSW, PhD) are reported together to obtain the $34 an hour mean, but data are broken down separately in the report by education level, field of social work, age, experience level, and other criteria.
Some of my research friends don't know that in my former life (20 years ago) I started a rubber stamp company where I designed and produced art rubber stamps. I made and sold stamps for many years, in fact, travelling to conventions all over the US with my wares, selling to shops all over the world. The ability to play with data and graphics speaks to the creative part of me that still enjoys this visual way of expressing my creativity and ideas. After trying out the easel.ly site, I am most likely to take a stab with photoshop for my next infographic- the available graphics and design themes are limited at the slightly clunky site, and this small graphic took about four hours to create but this was a good way to dip my toes in the water. Feel free to share it and let me know what you think. What other social work issues would you like to see infographic'ed? Did this data surprise you? Did it make you want to know more about the research?