vignettes/web_only/ggbetweenstats.Rmd
ggbetweenstats.Rmd
You can cite this package/vignette as:
Patil, I. (2021). Visualizations with statistical details: The
'ggstatsplot' approach. Journal of Open Source Software, 6(61), 3167,
doi:10.21105/joss.03167
A BibTeX entry for LaTeX users is
@Article{,
doi = {10.21105/joss.03167},
url = {https://doi.org/10.21105/joss.03167},
year = {2021},
publisher = {{The Open Journal}},
volume = {6},
number = {61},
pages = {3167},
author = {Indrajeet Patil},
title = {{Visualizations with statistical details: The {'ggstatsplot'} approach}},
journal = {{Journal of Open Source Software}},
}
The function ggbetweenstats
is designed to facilitate data exploration, and for making highly customizable publicationready plots, with relevant statistical details included in the plot itself if desired. We will see examples of how to use this function in this vignette.
To begin with, here are some instances where you would want to use ggbetweenstats

to check if a continuous variable differs across multiple groups/conditions
to compare distributions visually and check for outliers
Note: This vignette uses the pipe operator (%>%
), if you are not familiar with this operator, here is a good explanation: http://r4ds.had.co.nz/pipes.html
ggbetweenstats
To illustrate how this function can be used, we will use the gapminder
dataset throughout this vignette. This dataset provides values for life expectancy, GDP per capita, and population, at 5 year intervals, from 1952 to 2007, for each of 142 countries (courtesy Gapminder Foundation). Let’s have a look at the data
library(gapminder)
dplyr::glimpse(x = gapminder::gapminder)
#> Rows: 1,704
#> Columns: 6
#> $ country <fct> "Afghanistan", "Afghanistan", "Afghanistan", "Afghanistan", …
#> $ continent <fct> Asia, Asia, Asia, Asia, Asia, Asia, Asia, Asia, Asia, Asia, …
#> $ year <int> 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, …
#> $ lifeExp <dbl> 28.801, 30.332, 31.997, 34.020, 36.088, 38.438, 39.854, 40.8…
#> $ pop <int> 8425333, 9240934, 10267083, 11537966, 13079460, 14880372, 12…
#> $ gdpPercap <dbl> 779.4453, 820.8530, 853.1007, 836.1971, 739.9811, 786.1134, …
Note: For the remainder of the vignette, we’re going to exclude Oceania from the analysis simply because there are so few observations (countries).
Suppose the first thing we want to inspect is the distribution of life expectancy for the countries of a continent in 2007. We also want to know if the mean differences in life expectancy between the continents is statistically significant.
The simplest form of the function call is
# since the confidence intervals for the effect sizes are computed using
# bootstrapping, important to set a seed for reproducibility
set.seed(123)
# function call
ggstatsplot::ggbetweenstats(
data = dplyr::filter(gapminder::gapminder, year == 2007, continent != "Oceania"),
x = continent,
y = lifeExp
)
Note:
The function automatically decides whether an independent samples ttest is preferred (for 2 groups) or a Oneway ANOVA (3 or more groups). based on the number of levels in the grouping variable.
The output of the function is a ggplot
object which means that it can be further modified with ggplot2
functions.
As can be seen from the plot, the function by default returns Bayes Factor for the test. If the null hypothesis can’t be rejected with the null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) approach, the Bayesian approach can help index evidence in favor of the null hypothesis (i.e., \(BF_{01}\)).
By default, natural logarithms are shown because Bayes Factor values can sometimes be pretty large. Having values on logarithmic scale also makes it easy to compare evidence in favor alternative (\(BF_{10}\)) versus null (\(BF_{01}\)) hypotheses (since \(log_{e}(BF_{01}) =  log_{e}(BF_{10})\)).
We can make the output much more aesthetically pleasing as well as informative by making use of the many optional parameters in ggbetweenstats
. We’ll add a title and caption, better x
and y
axis labels, and tag and label the outliers in the data. We can and will change the overall theme as well as the color palette in use.
# for reproducibility
set.seed(123)
library(ggstatsplot)
library(gapminder)
# plot
ggstatsplot::ggbetweenstats(
data = dplyr::filter(gapminder, year == 2007, continent != "Oceania"),
x = continent, # grouping/independent variable
y = lifeExp, # dependent variables
type = "robust", # type of statistics
xlab = "Continent", # label for the xaxis
ylab = "Life expectancy", # label for the yaxis
plot.type = "boxviolin", # type of plot
outlier.tagging = TRUE, # whether outliers should be flagged
outlier.coef = 1.5, # coefficient for Tukey's rule
outlier.label = country, # label to attach to outlier values
outlier.label.args = list(color = "red"), # outlier point label color
# turn off messages
ggtheme = ggplot2::theme_gray(), # a different theme
package = "yarrr", # package from which color palette is to be taken
palette = "info2", # choosing a different color palette
title = "Comparison of life expectancy across continents (Year: 2007)",
caption = "Source: Gapminder Foundation"
) + # modifying the plot further
ggplot2::scale_y_continuous(
limits = c(35, 85),
breaks = seq(from = 35, to = 85, by = 5)
)
As can be appreciated from the effect size (partial eta squared) of 0.635, there are large differences in the mean life expectancy across continents. Importantly, this plot also helps us appreciate the distributions within any given continent. For example, although Asian countries are doing much better than African countries, on average, Afghanistan has a particularly grim average for the Asian continent, possibly reflecting the war and the political turmoil.
So far we have only used a classic parametric test and a boxviolin plot, but we can also use other available options:
The type
(of test) argument also accepts the following abbreviations: "p"
(for parametric), "np"
(for nonparametric), "r"
(for robust), "bf"
(for Bayes Factor).
The type of plot to be displayed can also be modified ("box"
, "violin"
, or "boxviolin"
).
The color palettes can be modified.
Let’s use the combine_plots
function to make one plot from four separate plots that demonstrates all of these options. Let’s compare life expectancy for all countries for the first and last year of available data 1957 and 2007. We will generate the plots one by one and then use combine_plots
to merge them into one plot with some common labeling. It is possible, but not necessarily recommended, to make each plot have different colors or themes.
For example,
# for reproducibility
set.seed(123)
library(ggstatsplot)
library(gapminder)
# selecting subset of the data
df_year < dplyr::filter(gapminder::gapminder, year == 2007  year == 1957)
# parametric ttest and box plot
p1 < ggstatsplot::ggbetweenstats(
data = df_year,
x = year,
y = lifeExp,
xlab = "Year",
ylab = "Life expectancy",
plot.type = "box",
type = "p",
conf.level = 0.99,
title = "Parametric test",
package = "ggsci",
palette = "nrc_npg"
)
# MannWhitney U test (nonparametric t) and violin plot
p2 < ggstatsplot::ggbetweenstats(
data = df_year,
x = year,
y = lifeExp,
xlab = "Year",
ylab = "Life expectancy",
plot.type = "violin",
type = "np",
conf.level = 0.99,
title = "Nonparametric Test (violin plot)",
package = "ggsci",
palette = "uniform_startrek"
)
# robust ttest and boxviolin plot
p3 < ggstatsplot::ggbetweenstats(
data = df_year,
x = year,
y = lifeExp,
xlab = "Year",
ylab = "Life expectancy",
plot.type = "boxviolin",
type = "r",
conf.level = 0.99,
title = "Robust Test (box & violin plot)",
tr = 0.005,
package = "wesanderson",
palette = "Royal2",
k = 3
)
# Bayes Factor for parametric ttest and boxviolin plot
p4 < ggstatsplot::ggbetweenstats(
data = df_year,
x = year,
y = lifeExp,
xlab = "Year",
ylab = "Life expectancy",
type = "bayes",
plot.type = "box",
title = "Bayesian Test (box plot)",
package = "ggsci",
palette = "nrc_npg"
)
# combining the individual plots into a single plot
ggstatsplot::combine_plots(
list(p1, p2, p3, p4),
plotgrid.args = list(nrow = 2),
annotation.args = list(
title = "Comparison of life expectancy between 1957 and 2007",
caption = "Source: Gapminder Foundation"
)
)
grouped_ggbetweenstats
What if we want to analyze both by continent and between 1957 and 2007? A combination of our two previous efforts.
ggstatsplot
provides a special helper function for such instances: grouped_ggbetweenstats
. This is merely a wrapper function around ggstatsplot::combine_plots
. It applies ggbetweenstats
across all levels of a specified grouping variable and then combines list of individual plots into a single plot. Note that the grouping variable can be anything: conditions in a given study, groups in a study sample, different studies, etc.
Let’s focus on the same 4 continents for the following years: 1967, 1987, 2007. Also, let’s carry out pairwise comparisons to see if there differences between every pair of continents.
# for reproducibility
set.seed(123)
# select part of the dataset and use it for plotting
gapminder::gapminder %>%
dplyr::filter(year %in% c(1967, 1987, 2007), continent != "Oceania") %>%
ggstatsplot::grouped_ggbetweenstats(
# arguments relevant for ggstatsplot::ggbetweenstats
x = continent,
y = lifeExp,
grouping.var = year,
xlab = "Continent",
ylab = "Life expectancy",
pairwise.display = "significant", # display only significant pairwise comparisons
p.adjust.method = "fdr", # adjust pvalues for multiple tests using this method
ggtheme = ggthemes::theme_tufte(),
package = "ggsci",
palette = "default_jco",
outlier.tagging = TRUE,
outlier.label = country,
# arguments relevant for ggstatsplot::combine_plots
annotation.args = list(title = "Changes in life expectancy across continents (19672007)"),
plotgrid.args = list(nrow = 3)
)
As seen from the plot, although the life expectancy has been improving steadily across all continents as we go from 1967 to 2007, this improvement has not been happening at the same rate for all continents. Additionally, irrespective of which year we look at, we still find significant differences in life expectancy across continents which have been surprisingly consistent across five decades (based on the observed effect sizes).
ggbetweenstats
+ purrr
Although this grouping function provides a quick way to explore the data, it leaves much to be desired. For example, the same type of plot and test is applied for all years, but maybe we want to change this for different years, or maybe we want to gave different effect sizes for different years. This type of customization for different levels of a grouping variable is not possible with grouped_ggbetweenstats
, but this can be easily achieved using the purrr
package.
See the associated vignette here: https://indrajeetpatil.github.io/ggstatsplot/articles/web_only/purrr_examples.html
For repeated measures designs, ggwithinstats
function can be used: https://indrajeetpatil.github.io/ggstatsplot/articles/web_only/ggwithinstats.html
graphical element 
geom_ used 
argument for further modification 

raw data  ggplot2::geom_point 
point.args 
box plot  ggplot2::geom_boxplot 
❌ 
density plot  ggplot2::geom_violin 
violin.args 
centrality measure point  ggplot2::geom_point 
centrality.point.args 
centrality measure label  ggrepel::geom_label_repel 
centrality.label.args 
outlier point  ggplot2::stat_boxplot 
❌ 
outlier label  ggrepel::geom_label_repel 
outlier.label.args 
pairwise comparisons  ggsignif::geom_ggsignif 
ggsignif.args 
Central tendency measure
Type  Measure  Function used 

Parametric  mean  parameters::describe_distribution 
Nonparametric  median  parameters::describe_distribution 
Robust  trimmed mean  parameters::describe_distribution 
Bayesian  MAP (maximum a posteriori probability) estimate  parameters::describe_distribution 
Hypothesis testing
Type  No. of groups  Test  Function used 

Parametric  > 2  Fisher’s or Welch’s oneway ANOVA  stats::oneway.test 
Nonparametric  > 2  Kruskal–Wallis oneway ANOVA  stats::kruskal.test 
Robust  > 2  Heteroscedastic oneway ANOVA for trimmed means  WRS2::t1way 
Bayes Factor  > 2  Fisher’s ANOVA  BayesFactor::anovaBF 
Parametric  2  Student’s or Welch’s ttest  stats::t.test 
Nonparametric  2  Mann–Whitney U test  stats::wilcox.test 
Robust  2  Yuen’s test for trimmed means  WRS2::yuen 
Bayesian  2  Student’s ttest  BayesFactor::ttestBF 
Effect size estimation
Type  No. of groups  Effect size  CI?  Function used 

Parametric  > 2  \(\eta_{p}^2\), \(\omega_{p}^2\)  ✅ 
effectsize::omega_squared , effectsize::eta_squared

Nonparametric  > 2  \(\epsilon_{ordinal}^2\)  ✅  effectsize::rank_epsilon_squared 
Robust  > 2  \(\xi\) (Explanatory measure of effect size)  ✅  WRS2::t1way 
Bayes Factor  > 2  \(R_{posterior}^2\)  ✅  performance::r2_bayes 
Parametric  2  Cohen’s d, Hedge’s g  ✅ 
effectsize::cohens_d , effectsize::hedges_g

Nonparametric  2  r (rankbiserial correlation)  ✅  effectsize::rank_biserial 
Robust  2  \(\xi\) (Explanatory measure of effect size)  ✅  WRS2::yuen.effect.ci 
Bayesian  2  \(\delta_{posterior}\)  ✅  bayestestR::describe_posterior 
Pairwise comparison tests
Type  Equal variance?  Test  pvalue adjustment?  Function used 

Parametric  No  GamesHowell test  ✅  stats::pairwise.t.test 
Parametric  Yes  Student’s ttest  ✅  PMCMRplus::gamesHowellTest 
Nonparametric  No  Dunn test  ✅  PMCMRplus::kwAllPairsDunnTest 
Robust  No  Yuen’s trimmed means test  ✅  WRS2::lincon 
Bayes Factor  ❌  Student’s ttest  ❌  BayesFactor::ttestBF 
If you wish to include statistical analysis results in a publication/report, the ideal reporting practice will be a hybrid of two approaches:
the ggstatsplot
approach, where the plot contains both the visual and numerical summaries about a statistical model, and
the standard narrative approach, which provides interpretive context for the reported statistics.
For example, let’s see the following example:
ggbetweenstats(ToothGrowth, supp, len)
The narrative context (assuming type = "parametric"
) can complement this plot either as a figure caption or in the main text
Welch’s ttest revealed that, across 60 guinea pigs, although the tooth length was higher when the animal received vitamin C via orange juice as compared to via ascorbic acid, this effect was not statistically significant. The effect size \((g = 0.49)\) was medium, as per Cohen’s (1988) conventions. The Bayes Factor for the same analysis revealed that the data were 1.2 times more probable under the alternative hypothesis as compared to the null hypothesis. This can be considered weak evidence (Jeffreys, 1961) in favor of the alternative hypothesis.
Similar reporting style can be followed when the function performs oneway ANOVA instead of a ttest.
If you find any bugs or have any suggestions/remarks, please file an issue on GitHub
: https://github.com/IndrajeetPatil/ggstatsplot/issues