Diagnosing Missing Data: A new way to graph missingness

Some approaches to missing data work well in some situations, but perform very poorly in others.  So it’s really important to get a good idea of the type and pattern of missingness in your data.  You may even take different missing data approaches to different variables.

Matt Blackwell of the Harvard Social Science Statistics blog has come up with a nice way to visualize the missingness patterns in a data set.  (I’m a big fan of graphing data to understand it).  He calls it a Missingness Map.

The only drawback seems to be that it will be cumbersome for large data sets.


Approaches to Missing Data: the Good, the Bad, and the Unthinkable
Learn the different methods for dealing with missing data and how they work in different missing data situations.

Reader Interactions


  1. Ursula Saqui, Ph.D. says

    I really like this idea but wasn’t sure how to create my own missingness map with the different colors in SPSS. Can anyone give me some direction on this? Thanks!

    • admin says

      Hi Ursula,

      It’s not available yet in any of the mainstream software. I think he had just come up with it. It’s something you’d have to program. Or contact him and get his program. 🙂


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