Visual Strategies

Visual Strategies: A Practical Guide to Graphics for Scientists and Engineers

Felice C. Frankel
Angela H. DePace
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 160
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vm21z
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  • Book Info
    Visual Strategies
    Book Description:

    Any scientist or engineer who communicates research results will immediately recognize this practical handbook as an indispensable tool. The guide sets out clear strategies and offers abundant examples to assist researchers-even those with no previous design training-with creating effective visual graphics for use in multiple contexts, including journal submissions, grant proposals, conference posters, or presentations.

    Visual communicator Felice Frankel and systems biologist Angela DePace, along with experts in various fields, demonstrate how small changes can vastly improve the success of a graphic image. They dissect individual graphics, show why some work while others don't, and suggest specific improvements. The book includes analyses of graphics that have appeared in such journals asScience,Nature,Annual Reviews,Cell,PNAS, and theNew England Journal of Medicine, as well as an insightful personal conversation with designer Stefan Sagmeister and narratives by prominent researchers and animators.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18360-3
    Subjects: Art & Art History, General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. OVERVIEW
    • WHY THIS GUIDE?
      (pp. 2-3)
    • SPEAKING OF DESIGN: A CONVERSATION
      (pp. 4-7)
      FCF, AHD and SKS

      We were privileged to work with designer Stefan Sagmeister for this guide. In many ways, good design is the kernel that began our thinking for this project. In addition to seeing his design on these pages, we wanted to bring you his voice.

      Fcf, ahd The fact that you decided to design our book is pretty remarkable for us, Stefan. Is science something you were always interested in?

      Sks No, not at all, in fact I had little interest in science when I was in school, received average grades, and took science education for the most part as a necessary...

    • A ROADMAP: HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
      (pp. 8-11)
    • YOUR FIRST STEP: ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU BEGIN
      (pp. 12-13)
    • YOUR TOOLS
      (pp. 14-26)

      We present some basic tools from graphic design that you can use to enhance the clarity of your science graphics. These tools are Compose, Abstract, Color, Layer, and Refine. Here we explain each tool and present two examples in which that tool has been used successfully.

      Composition helps the audience understand how to “read” the graphic—where to start and where to move on. Notice how this figure is arranged. Its composition creates a visual hierarchy that indicates a narrative meant to be read, intuitively, from left to right. Attention to the composition allows you to immediately see that the...

  3. FORM AND STRUCTURE
    (pp. 27-42)

    There are multiple types of representations of structure and form in science. Some show physical structure directly, such as photographs or micrographs. Others show physical structure using a rendering of data, such as molecular models or topographical maps. These representations may be evidentiary (proving that something exists, or showing it in context), or seek to highlight a particular feature of the structure. We also consider many graphs to be representations of structure in a dataset. This may be less intuitive, but think about which features are often communicated in graphs, for instance, the shape of the distribution of values or...

  4. PROCESS AND TIME
    (pp. 43-58)

    Processes take place over time and result in change. However, we’re often constrained to depict processes in static graphics, perhaps even a single image. Luckily, a good static graphic can be just as successful, perhaps even more so, than an animation. Giving the reader the ability to see each “frame” of time can offer a valuable perspective. In this chapter, we present static graphics depicting biological, material, and algorithmic processes.

    The schematic illustration on the right shows transfer of solid printed objects from one surface to another. The authors chose the frames carefully, depicting only the critical steps. The degree...

  5. COMPARE AND CONTRAST
    (pp. 59-74)

    To understand relationships between structures, forms, and processes we are required to make comparisons. Some comparisons are qualitative—for example, the goal may be to understand that two structures are different in size. But how different? A quantitative comparison attempts to answer that question numerically—for example, making it clear that one has precisely half the area of the other. A comparison can also reinforce a characteristic of the primary character in your figure. Simply by including the “other,” you can emphasize, by contrast, what a component is or is not.

    A fundamental challenge in making visual comparisons is to...

  6. CASE STUDIES
    (pp. 75-108)

    In the world of art, the word “pentimento,” which translates literally as “regret,” refers to an artist’s alteration of a piece during the artistic process, showing traces of previous ideas for a particular work. For example, one can see traces of Da Vinci’s charcoal sketches under his painting Madonna of the Rocks, indicating that he changed his mind concerning elements of the composition of the piece.

    This chapter highlights the process of creating. Various researchers walk us through the process of creating their graphics and talk about the changes they made along the way until they arrived at what they...

  7. INTERACTIVE GRAPHICS
    (pp. 109-142)

    Interactive graphics are becoming more prevalent in research and education. Scientists and faculty are using interactive graphics in presentations, coursework, and electronic textbooks. Just as important, many journals are expanding their efforts to create interactive opportunities for their readers. Multiple journals are developing design teams to find new approaches to communicate the enormous quantity of new data researchers are collecting; many are choosing to explore the possibilities offered by interactive graphics.

    The online journalPLoS(Public Library of Science)engages readers with the graphics in their articles in two unusual ways: readers can pick and choose which figures they want...

  8. VISUAL INDEX
    (pp. 143-150)
  9. APPENDIX
    (pp. 151-153)