5 Tips for visualizing data with charts

Show Me! The Art of Using Visual Elements to Enhance a ManuscriptIn my recent TAA webinar, “Show Me! The Art of Using Visual Elements to Enhance a Manuscript“, I shared best practices for incorporating tables, figures, and charts into your manuscripts and the tools available for developing those visual elements.

One of my favorite forms of visual element is a chart. Charts combine the visual appeal of figures with the data content of tables and can be quite effective in conveying context and purpose when used properly. For greatest success, I offer the following five tips for chart usage in your next manuscript. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 17, 2019

"It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s the fear of not writing well; something quite different." ~Scott BerkunThis week’s collection of articles from around the web contains a number of articles focused on the aspects of writer’s life that are not directly related to the task of writing. Things like use of figures, evaluation methods, motivational efforts, discussion, and networking opportunities.

These same things, while supportive of our writing practice, may also prove to be a distraction or cause of fear of evaluation of our own writing. While it is important to keep them in mind and to incorporate them into our overall writing process, we must be sure to use them in a way that moves us further along in our writing efforts. As Scott Berkun once said, “It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s the fear of not writing well; something quite different.” This week let the evaluation, nagging, discussion, and presentation of your work drive you to be better and to move forward. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Figuring it out: Trends for visuals in academic writing

Comic Strip Frame with text "Write, write, write! Will anyone read all these words?"Online exchanges are increasingly visual. Even staid newspaper sites now embed media or graphic stories. Almost every mobile device includes a camera, and the means to quickly upload and share still images or media. Graphics and drawing software are readily available. What do these trends mean for academic writing? What kinds of figures or other visual materials are scholars using to communicate about their research? How are electronic journals changing the options for the use of media and images? With these questions in mind, I explored trends and looked examples of visuals in academic writing that extend beyond the typical black and white figure. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: February 22, 2019

Make things happenThis week’s collection of articles from around the web continues to show the state of change in the publishing industry, specifically through the open access movement. From the perspective of personal change (and challenges), several other topics are included in the list with focus on feedback, negative mind chatter, bold requests, and presenting information to others.

Whatever changes or challenges your writing efforts may be facing from external or internal sources this week, remember your goals for having started in the first place and make things happen. Happy writing! [Read more…]

5 Ways to visualize your academic research

5 Ways to Visualize Your Academic ResearchData visualization is the placement of facts and figures in an illustrative design. This can include any form of multimedia such as videos, maps, charts and diagrams, for example. Adding elements of data visualization to academic research is an effective method because 65% of the human population are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network. This means their brains are more likely to absorb and retain information that is presented in a graphic format.

Imagery is simple, quick and digestible to process, whereas the majority of attention spans take in just 28% of words on a page, as reported by the Nielsen Norman Group. So because most people need complex material to be broken down into more accessible pictures and patterns, data visualization is essential for securing the readers’ interest and enhancing their retention.

You can integrate data visualization into your own academic research with these creative and interactive techniques for a reader experience that stimulates, informs, and compels your target audience. [Read more…]

Communicate visually to engage readers!

Examples of VisualsKress and others observe that a shift we are witnessing from words to pictures is interrelated with a shift from print to digital. This shift means movement from an emphasis on written communication to an emphasis on images and media. At the same time, it represents a move from the printed publication to the screen.

As academic writers, we need to rethink our attachment to the words, and look for new ways to communicate visually in books, articles, and ancillary resources. We also need to update our promotional and social media materials to attract attention in an information-overload environment.

One way is to use diagrams, visual maps, or illustrations to concisely communicate important ideas and key relationships. Another way is to show ways the ideas or problems are demonstrated in real situations. [Read more…]

3 Tips for writing an effective figure caption

Research with figureIn a recent post on constructing effective tables and figures, I noted the need for figures to include captions that “succinctly describe the accompanying content.” In this post, we will discuss the purpose of captions and how to write one that is effective.

It is important to remember that figures should be clearly understood, even in isolation from the rest of the manuscript. The caption provides an opportunity for the author to provide context and connection to the rest of the article, as it relates to the visual element. [Read more…]

Consequences of not following third party photo usage restrictions

Stephen Gillen

Stephen Gillen

Q: What happens if, notwithstanding your best intentions, a 3rd party photo usage restriction escapes your notice and your lapse is detected by the photographer or stock agency?

A: Steve Gillen, lawyer and partner in the intellectual property firm of Wood Herron & Evans:

“Well, about the best you could expect is that you will be deemed in breach of your contractual commitment and held to account for what you should have paid for the uses you actually made. More likely, however, is a claim that you have made an unauthorized and infringing use of a copyrighted work outside the scope of any license you might have had. In this event, the copyright owner has some very potent strategic advantages and remedies at his/her disposal: [Read more…]

Images are an integral part of your book, but how do you find an artist for creating them?

Q: “How do you find an artist for images in a text or trade book? Who pays? At what point is the art done? If the images are an integral part of the book, how does all of this work?”

A: Paul Siegel, Ph. D., Professor of Communication, University of Hartford, TAA President:

“I am not sure if my own experience is relevant to your situation, but here goes… The kind of ‘art’ I tend to use a lot of in my textbook is cartoons. I got tired of paying for permission to reprint cartoons (political cartoons, or funny pages cartoons), knowing I would have to track down the cartoonist or the syndicate for each edition.

So I instead hired a cartooning student at my university’s Art School. Functioning as a kind of theatre director, I worked with her to create the kinds of images and narratives I sought to emphasize or satirize key points in my textbook. [The subject is communication law, so the opportunities for humor are many].” [Read more…]