Finding Stories in Open Data

Data can tell incredible stories. This one day course will equip you with the skills to produce your own open data story.

The course aims to help you source relevant data, show you how data can be analysed and used effectively and how to interpret your findings.

The course will give you a work-flow model for approaching data to find insights and will show you what is possible with freely available tools.

To ensure the day is as useful as possible, we ask you to bring along a small dataset on a spreadsheet that you would like to investigate.

Date Price Book


The course will cover:

Introduction to telling stories with data

  • What is data and what is the difference between open, personal, and big data?
  • Types of data you will typically come across
  • How others tell stories with data: examples and case studies

Finding data

  • How and where to find trusted data sources
  • Understanding the trustworthiness of your data: what to look out for when choosing a dataset
  • Understanding what questions to ask when consuming or releasing statistics
  • How to stay up-to-date with government data releases

Exploring the data to find a story

  • Downloading your data and exploring a dataset
  • Cleaning data: principles, what to look out for, managing changes and introducing Open Refine
  • Spreadsheet essentials and introducing pivot tables
  • A mental model for how data analysis works
  • Analysing your data: creating simple summary statistics, counts, basic tables and other popular means to get an overview of the data
  • Inception points in finding a story: producing a rank table, looking for outliers and comparing groups

Telling your story

  • Introducing charts: what to use and when
  • How to visualise your data using freely available static and interactive tools
  • Quick tips for using the right statistical language
  • Visualising data: dos and don’ts
  • Presenting your data: what works best
  • Further ideas, reading and next steps

By the end of the one-day course you will:

  • Be armed with a list of great data sources
  • Have selected a data set you can use for telling a story to others
  • Understand new ways to find stories in data
  • Know which free tools are available to help you clean, analyse and visualise data
  • Be familiar using a spreadsheet and Open Refine
  • Created a visualisation of a dataset
  • Know when you might need further help and what skills might be required

Note: while the focus of this course will be openly available data, it will give you introductory skills to handle many forms of data and basic statistical information.

Who is this for?

If you want to tell stories, learn how to source, analyse or present information using data, this course is for you.

Participants might include: journalists, project managers, developers, writers, artists, producers, communications managers, press relations, presenters and consultants.

Course requirements:

The course is designed for non-specialists. No previous data or statistical skills are required, however comfort with using the web and good computer literacy (including basic spreadsheet skills) is essential.

What to bring:

  • A small spreadsheet of data you would like to analyse
  • Your own computer, Wi-Fi-enabled for an open network with a Firefox or Chrome browser installed
  • A Google account to access Google spreadsheets
  • A tool to read and manipulate spreadsheets e.g. Google spreadsheets, Excel or OpenOffice