Science figures can have many formats and deliver different kinds of information. Some figures are so innovative and spectacular that they make us question ourselves as to how they were made.
Undoubtedly, making good infographics is no easy feat. You must have a clear and thorough idea of the subject. Even if you follow all rules of data visualization and look for hundreds of infographic tutorials, practice is indeed the only way to perfection.
However, as scientists, we are not aiming to be known for our perfect art or designing skills. Our goal is to simply communicate our findings. If we have trouble doing that — and we often do — then we have a problem that needs solving.
Ok, first things first. What does it mean to have good communication in the scientific world?
Let’s take a look at some graphical abstracts.
It looks pretty basic, right? That’s because it is supposed to be that way.
It can be a bit surprising but this simple-looking graphical abstract was published in Nature Reviews Cancer2, the renowned peer-reviewed scientific journal.
What does that tell us? That even the biggest journals don’t want you to be the best graphic designer in the world. What they want is graphical material that effectively supports the text.
When thinking about creating a graphical abstract for your research paper, here are a couple of questions you can ask yourself:
- What is my research about?
- What are my main findings?
- How are my findings connected with the references I used?
If your answer is yes, you have no excuse not to use a graphical abstract maker online. Even though you and your colleagues may understand the research and findings perfectly, it is your duty to help your audience to understand it just as well, and an abstract design online is the perfect way to achieve this.
If your answer is no, I’m afraid that you might have trouble writing your paper from abstract to acknowledgments. In this case, a free abstract generator could help you feel more confident and in control of your work. And thus, I strongly recommend you try creating your own graphical abstract online.
How to make a great graphical abstract for your research paper
Here are some tips to create a compelling graphical abstract:
Make sure you know the main points.
Write the takeaways in as few words as you can, and then trim it down even more. Simplify the main points until you have only a sentence or two. This will serve as the base for your graphical abstract.
See what has worked for others.
While you will want your graphical abstract to be original, looking at existing material can help you decide what to include and what to leave out. The Cell Press Graphical Abstract Guidelines include examples of different styles of graphical abstracts and how to improve on them. Search the journal you are submitting to for already published graphical abstracts and you’ll know the style, fonts, and colors to use.
Tailor your abstract to match your goals.
The flow of your graphic depends on the kind of data you’re presenting. If your findings are that A leads to B, then a bold arrow between the two can illustrate that clearly. If you’re trying to find the missing link between B and C, then a question mark between those two images would work well. Likewise, if the research unveils a protein structure, then showcase a picture of that structure. And a flowchart type visual can be ideal for illustrating processes or mechanisms.
Include keywords and nothing more.
What are those specific words or phrases that the reader is looking for to understand what the paper is all about? Include those in the image, and leave out the minute details — the text abstract and the paper will cover those.
Ensure it’s self-explanatory.
If the reader has to spend more than a couple of minutes to understand your graphical abstract, then that defeats the purpose and might even make the reader lose interest. So, create a clear and simple visual that’s easy to understand in one go.
You don’t need to make a perfect graphical abstract. No one expects that from you, not even the most notable scientific journals in the world.
All you have to do is find a way to simplify and communicate your main findings in a way that’s interesting and easy to understand.
And so, you have all the reasons to use an abstract generator for research papers. Why not start now?
With you enjoyed this post, check out our blog post on How to Create an Effective Graphical Abstract, and How to Create an Infographic (and any other science figure), to learn even more about the topic.
- Biomaterials and emerging anticancer therapeutics: engineering the microenvironment.
- Nature Review Cancer.