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Full-Length Paper

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Developing effective visualizations is crucial for understanding and communicating data in a variety of contexts. Tableau is an easy-to-use tool for creating customized, interactive visualizations. Although Tableau is often discussed in the context of business intelligence, it can also be used to create effective scientific and biomedical visualizations in the context of research, public health, and medical care.

This article provides a basic introduction to Tableau’s uses and discusses the NIH Library’s experience with providing support for Tableau. Four case studies demonstrate the range of services that the Library offers, as well as providing examples of the many different applications for Tableau.

The article also provides resources for learning Tableau and insights on developing a successful data visualization support service.


data visualization, biomedical data visualization, scientific data visualization, data science, Tableau, library data services


The authors thank Cindy Clark, NIH Library Writing Center, for manuscript editing assistance, and Katherine Peterson, who developed and taught the Introduction to Biological Data Visualization class.

Corresponding Author

Lisa M. Federer, NIH Library, Division of Library Services, Office of Research Services, National Institutes of Health, Bldg 10, Rm 1L21, MSC 1150, 10 Center Drive Bethesda, MD 20892-1150; lisa.federer@nih.gov

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Copyright Federer & Joubert © 2018

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.