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.
In May 2019, the collaboration was awarded funding by the Health Science Doctoral Training Centre at KCL to create workshops on graphic design for scientific figures. These workshops are running in early 2020, with more details on a dedicated webpage.
The initial phase of the collaboration started in May 2017, lasting approximately 15 months and contributing to Gill’s PhD research. The aim of this initial phase was to understand the issues involved when producing scientific 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.
The intention is that the next phase of the collaboration will expand to include visual communication with non-scientists, such as patients and / or participants in clinical trials, and will involve other departments within KCL, as well as the CNS.
During the initial phase, the collaboration worked on:
- An online gallery of visual elements, linked to a library of high resolution image 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 image gallery and library were added to and revised throughout the initial phase of the collaboration, and they continue to be active. They provide an opportunity to give papers and presentations a consistent and recognisable appearance, to improve visual communication and enhance scientific authority.
- 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 highlighted some of the issues that scientists face when creating conceptual figures. These included 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 has been revised and added to for future sessions.