The table rule

Before you make a table make sure you need a table. Here is the first rule of tables: a table should have more than one row of data. That is, make sure there is a need for a table that enables the reader to easily compare entries across multiple rows and columns in a systematic manner. For example, a 2×2 table is much better than a 1×4 table even though they have the same number of cells.

I was reading this article in Political Psychology and they included the following table:

A lot of papers have summary table as ‘Table 1’. That’s all fine. My issue here is that the paper uses a full page to convey very little information. To make matters worse, the table is completely irrelevant and all relevant information is provided in the following paragraph:

The sources are 43 tweets, 13 photos, 12 hours of audio files, 18 videos, seven newspaper articles, three official reports, three academic journal articles and books, two blogposts, 12 community interviews, one police statement, and more than 13 police log entries.

I did not do the math but my guess is that the above paragraph would not take up a full page.

I am a great fan of tables and figures, but please do make sure that there actually is a clear purpose for the inclusion of a table or a figure beyond taking up valuable journal space.