It always intrigues me when a figure looks really complicated. And I start to wonder:…
Would you like to explain your science to others? So that it gets stuck and is understood? Then a graphical abstract is an excellent idea.
For grant proposals.
Put yourself in the shoes of the reviewer who will read your grant proposal – along with hundreds of other proposals. Who wouldn’t be grateful for an overview that offers quick orientation? And creates an easy entry point to show the objective of the proposal? A graphical abstract increases the chances of being understood and funded – with your application you stand out from the masses of text deserts!
Does that sound familiar: for your lecture you need a conceptual illustration that gives an overview of your topic. You could use this one illustration from a colleague’s review. Unfortunately, at one point it shows more details than you would like to give your audience for the presentation. Elsewhere, however, a detail is missing that you would like to mention. And then it would be nice to integrate your own results and ideas directly into this illustration. A clear case: you need your own graphical abstract. One that shows exactly what you need. No more and no less.
The manuscript is finally ready, it is submitted, accepted and then – you are asked to upload a graphical abstract to your paper by the day after tomorrow. The question here is not whether or not a graphical abstract is needed. The questions are: What can a graphical abstract for your manuscript look like? And who can create that? Who has the graphic know-how? And the time? Since the answers to these questions often are: “No idea” and “Maybe the doctoral student?”, there are essentially two types of graphical abstracts:
- the most beautiful fluorescence microscopy image from the paper is redeclared as a graphical abstract. This is not the idea of a graphical abstract, because the content value is close to zero. As a reader, I take away from such a graphical abstract that fluorescence microscopy was used. Not more.
- a conceptual illustration. Unfortunately, under time pressure, it was created by someone who knows little about Illustrator and even less about graphic design. This is why these graphical abstracts also fall short of their potential – we can do better than that!
What to do? If it is acute: consider professional help. If there is still time, consider learning more about graphical abstracts and how to create them – for example here on the blog or in my workshops.
Regardless of whether you are a PhD candidate or professor, whether a defense, progress report or keynote lecture, doctoral thesis, publication or grant proposal – I am convinced that graphical abstracts help all scientists to communicate their science more efficiently. You can read how they do that in this blog post about the impact of graphical abstracts.