The collaboration

An on-going collaboration between a graphic design researcher, Gill Brown, and the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences at King’s College London, instigated by Dr Mattia Veronese. The collaboration started in May 2017 and the initial phase will last for approximately one year.

The aim of this initial phase is to understand the issues involved when producing conceptual figures and to suggest means of addressing them, while bearing in mind the conventions and restrictions associated with visual communication within scientific peer groups.

Using upcoming research papers as a case study, the collaboration is working on:

  • An online gallery of visual elements, linked to a library of high resolution files and editable Adobe Illustrator files. These elements are specifically designed to be easily adapted and refined by the scientists themselves, who can include or remove details, and add text and annotation, to create bespoke conceptual figures. Examples of these elements are shown in the header images of this webpage and a pilot image gallery has been created to test this approach. The gallery is being built on and revised throughout the collaboration.
  • Workshops to give hands-on instruction in the use of Adobe Illustrator, with emphasis on the creation and editing of visual elements for use in conceptual figures. The workshops also highlight some of the issues that scientists face when creating conceptual figures. These include adapting figures for different audiences and media, reproducing colour figures in black/white, and the use of anatomical versus diagrammatic representations. Two pilot workshops were run in November 2017 and, based on feedback from participants, the workshop content is being revised and added to for future sessions.

The introduction of the image library provides an opportunity to give papers and presentations a consistent and recognisable appearance, to improve visual communication and enhance scientific authority.

The intention is that the next phase of the collaboration will broaden to include figures that scientists may use to visually communicate with non-scientists, in particular when providing information for their patients and / or participants in clinical trials.

The progress of the collaboration is being recorded in the website blog, with a catalogue of meetings and events, both past and upcoming, on the news feed.