Chapter 13. Visualizing Time Series and Other Functions of an Independent Variable

The preceding chapter discussed scatterplots, where we plot one quantitative variable against another. A special case arises when one of the two variables can be thought of as time, because time imposes additional structure on the data. Now the data points have an inherent order; we can arrange the points in order of increasing time and define a predecessor and successor for each data point. We frequently want to visualize this temporal order, and we do so with line graphs. Line graphs are not limited to time series, however. They are appropriate whenever one variable imposes an ordering on the data. This scenario arises also, for example, in a controlled experiment where a treatment variable is purposefully set to a range of different values. If we have multiple variables that depend on time, we can either draw separate line plots or we can draw a regular scatterplot and then draw lines to connect the neighboring points in time.

Individual Time Series

As a first demonstration of a time series, we will consider the pattern of monthly preprint submissions in biology. Preprints are scientific articles that researchers post online before formal peer review and publication in a scientific journal. The preprint server bioRxiv, which was founded in November 2013 specifically for researchers working in the biological sciences, has seen substantial growth in monthly submissions since. We can visualize ...

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