Graphical abstracts are used to summarize the results of an article in a small package so that the person reading the article can see the results at a glance without having to read the entire text. Most articles keep the abstract to a maximum of 250 words (some journals require less). Many readers just want the facts to be clearly presented in a concise visual representation. Graphic abstracts are now popular as an alternative to text. They help readers quickly grasp the article without having to read it and find out if it is of interest to them or relevant to their research. However, some believe that graphics without text to explain it can be confusing or misleading. For this reason, it is important to ensure that any graphics used to replace text are clear and complete.
Try to Communicate Clearly through Graphics
When using a graphical abstract, keep in mind that you should not just use a copy of one of the graphics used in the text. Often, such graphical abstracts show only part of the information in question, rather than completely representing the article. A graphical abstract should be designed specifically for the abstract of the article and should clearly state the “technical details of the study”. Elsevier, one of the largest publishers of scientific journals, provides detailed instructions on how to submit graphic abstracts to authors. According to Elsevier, the visual abstract “should allow readers to quickly grasp the main message of the article, and its purpose is to help readers more quickly identify which article is most relevant to their research interests.”
Resistance of the Author
Most authors are familiar with the concept of graphical abstract, but may not get enough information from their target journals about its purpose and how to make it. For many researchers, graphical abstracts require more work. After months or years of researching and collecting and analyzing data, they may not be willing to spend more time creating a graphic for what they consider a “lazy reader” of their study. But if authors look at graphical abstracts from a different perspective, they may see it as an opportunity to reach more people. With online publishing, this graphic allows people who are looking for an article to see a visual representation of the subject. This abstract can not only be a good marketing tool for the researcher but also “an opportunity to attract the audience and make them want to read more.”
According to the results of the latest studies, articles without graphical abstracts are not much less valuable than articles with graphical abstracts. Studies have shown that articles without a graphical abstract perform better than those with graphical abstracts in terms of PDF loading, article abstract views, and total citations. However, this study was limited not only to a period, but also to the articles published in only one journal, and suggested that much broader studies were needed to confirm the findings. Regardless of these results, innovative scientists should consider the new trend and adopt innovative methods for presenting their research findings.
There are design tips that will make your life a lot easier when incorporating graphical abstracts into your presentation. The above-mentioned study shows some of the “opponents” of using these graphics. However, many of the negative points were related to the difficulty of publishing research in PDF format and how graphics are not always translated well in that format. New technology can solve this problem, and there are some key points to keep in mind when designing your graphics for printing.
To create a good graphical abstract, consider the following:
• Summarize the main result/idea of your research in a simple form.
• Know your target audience.
• See other graphical abstracts to get ideas.
• Start with a blueprint to know the important elements of your article.
• Follow the guidelines of your target journal.
• Make it more attractive by using colors and images.
• Choose the right platform to create your graphics.
• Use key phrases or keywords.
• Make the design clear and easy to understand.
• Pay attention to image quality in terms of pixels
Your journal is likely to have a set of guidelines for graphic design, and journals that are published online may allow you to be more creative in graphics. Keep in mind that while graphical abstracts may be extra work, you already have all the information you need to create something that can be valuable to you as a researcher.