How images can hinder or boost the dissemination of your research.

How images can hinder or boost the dissemination of your research.

Author: Cristina Rigutto – University of Trento, Italy


  • Elena Milani – University of West England, United Kingdom

As social media and mobile technologies have advanced, communication has evolved to become increasingly more visual and led to a transformation in the editorial practices. These practices need to be addressed by transforming the relationship between science communication practitioners and researchers so that for both the use of visuals will become an aid and not a limit for communication and promotion of research.

Nowadays, researchers frequently communicate about their research on social media, online newspapers or journals blogs, and they include or are requested to provide a related picture to catch audiences’ attention. However, not any image is relevant, easy to understand, suited for the platform where is shared, and/or copyrights free. Moreover, if researchers do not provide a picture, the social media editor could choose one that is appealing but contradicts or misinterprets the research findings or deviates the attention from the key message.

Researchers do not only communicate about research using pictures but charts as well. They need to represent the data objectively, but they tend to produce charts with too many layers of complexity. On the other hand, social media editors and communication practitioners give priority to the aesthetic over scientific accuracy and, to make charts catchy, they sometimes do not represent the information properly. Either way, those charts are frequently too complex or too simple and can unintentionally misrepresent data or convey bias that often leads to misinformation.

It has become increasingly important to go beyond scientific images, and design images of science that combine the needs of the editor to promote the article through compelling visuals and that of the researchers to maintain scientific rigour. In this demonstration, we will suggest practical solutions to communicate about research visually by combining the perspectives of a researcher and a Journal social media editor.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Demonstration
Theme: Technology