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This is an interesting idea. I haven't heard of researchers using Tableau, but I do know it can be used to help display and visually analyze the results of survey data. I could also see it being useful for exploring data sets to look for unexpected relationships or patterns in a more visual way. The integration with R could also be useful from a research perspective. It will be interesting to see what the cluster analysis in v10 brings to the table since I can see that being something of interest to researchers as well. I'd be interested to hear what feedback you are getting from faculty you have introduced to it are saying.
The staff I introduced to Tableau last week went away buzzing with ideas on how they could use it to analyse and display their data - in subjects that included non-destructive testing, geography, astrostatistics, and usability. It looks like I'm going to be doing a couple more of these workshops later this year as they're being made mandatory for our grad students. I'm also looking forward to the inclusion of more data mining techniques, as while I'm happy to use R (and will be teaching the R/Tableau combo) I know there are some folks who won't feel comfortable with something so blatantly code-like.
I also find this tool as very usuful, intiutive and user friendly. I teach health economics and public health and my studends are very ecited compering health system performance using Tableau.
Hope the statistical package will be be more developed soon to have more power among researches to use it for scientifical papers.