I am analyzing the effect of sampling month (5 different months), sampling time (day/night) and sampling location (5 different sites) on the effect of species richness using a linear model in R. All of my factors are categorical, and my response factor is continuous. I have used AIC to determined that the interaction effects are not worth including.

Is there a way to create a boxplot/bar graph for each of these factors (Month, Day, Location-- 3 graphs) which shows the effect of each factor after removing the effect of the other factors? i.e. I want to see which months have significantly different levels of species richness after accounting for the variation explained by Sampling Time and Sampling Month.

I have tried:

Test1 <- lm(Richness ~ Time_Period + Location + Month, data = data1)

plot_summs(Test1, scale = TRUE)

with some success, but it eliminates one of my categories for each factor. e.g. The mean/SE is shown for night samples but day samples are all set to 0. Similarly for sampling Month everything is displayed relative to August.


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Doesn't "removing the effect of the other factors" mean plotting the residuals? If not, could you clarify your intention? $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber I suppose that would work? But how would I go about plotting the residuals of month for example after removing the variance explained by Sampling Time and Location? I know how to make a Q-Q plot but that doesn't get me the graph that Iwant $\endgroup$
    – Dugan
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


"Accounting for the variation" usually means "after regressing on the other explanatory variables and extracting the residuals" -- that is, the "left over" variation not "accounted for" by those variables. The residuals have the same structure as the original responses, so just about any graphical method of plotting the responses applies mutatis mutandis to the residuals.

("Just about" acknowledges that sometimes a method relies on a restrictive assumption, such as that all values involved are positive. Such a resumption might not hold for residuals, which are guaranteed--by construction--to have some non-positive values.)

As an example, here is a boxplot relating a quantitative response, income, to a categorical variable (from O.D. Duncan's occupational prestige data supplied in the R package carData; each row summarizes one of 45 occupations).

Figure 1

This dataset has two other variables, education and prestige. Here is the same boxplot of the residuals after regressing income on those other two variables, thereby "accounting for the variation" in income associated with measures of educational attainment and prestige of the occupation

Figure 2

Although the large differences apparent in the first figure are reduced and the within-profession variability is considerably narrowed, neither these differences nor this variability are completely eliminated. We would therefore want to explore (theoretically or with other data) whether these residual differences can be attributed to the type of profession.

Disclaimer: This does not constitute an analysis of the data (which I have not explored). Many more considerations, ranging from preliminary transformations to post hoc diagnostics for goodness of fit, would be required before making any use of the results.

The boxplot function in R produced these figures. As in the question, the residuals were computed with lm (ordinary least squares).

# View(Duncan)
X <- Duncan
mai <- par("mai") 
par(mai=mai+c(0,0.75,0,0)) # Increase the left margin for long labels
# Figure 1
X$Profession <- c(prof="Professional", 
                  wc="White collar",
                  bc="Blue collar")[X$type] # Give meaningful labels to this variable
col <- hsv(seq(2,6,2)/6, .75, .9, .6)
boxplot(income ~ Profession, X, main="Raw Data", horizontal=TRUE, col=col, las=1,
        xlab="Percent exceeding income threshold")
# Figure 2
fit <- lm(income ~ education + prestige, X)
X$Residual <- residuals(fit)  # Take out the effects of `education` and `prestige`
boxplot(Residual ~ Profession, X, horizontal=TRUE, col=col, las=1,
        main="Residuals of Income ~ Education + Prestige", 
        xlab="Difference of the Percent")
abline(v=0, col="#00000040", lwd=2, lty=2)
par(mai=mai) # Restore the original graphing environment
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent answer! 100/100! $\endgroup$
    – Dugan
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 15:01

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