A unique approach weaves background information about data with practical, hands-on lessons that develop fundamental research skills all students should understand. Easy-to-follow tutorials provide readers with step-by-step instructions to quickly begin analyzing data without having advanced knowledge of data analysis or statistics. Extensive illustrations throughout the book demonstrate to readers how to understand data. End-of-chapter On Your Own exercises challenge readers to develop their skills through easy-to-use data files and questions to reinforce the chapter learning objectives. Student Study Site includes data sets that readers can use to test their data literacy

Getting Your Data in Shape

In the previous chapter, we learned how to use integrity checks to uncover flaws in our data. In this chapter we will learn some tricks that we can use to scrub some of the most common data dirt. We will also learn some techniques for transforming our data, so they are better prepared for analysis and visualization.

We will use Excel to perform most of our data cleaning and transforming tasks, but we will also use OpenRefine and a PDF conversion service.

Excel and other spreadsheet programs have built-in features and functions that can help whip data into shape. For example, we can use Excel’s Text to Columns tool to parse—or split—data that are stored ...

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