Graphical Abstract

by | May 30, 2018 | Publication Writing

What is graphical abstract?

Graphical abstract is a concise and visual/pictorial summary of the main findings of any publication manuscript. It helps readers to understand the findings of a manuscript in a better way and in a simplified manner. They are not replacements of traditional textual abstracts instead are an addition to them.

Why Graphical Abstract?

Graphical abstract should not be considered as a burden or waste of time by the authors. Therefore, it is necessary for them to understand the rationale behind the use of graphical abstract. Graphical abstract is a well-suited platform to share or disseminate the research via social media in today’s time and help attract the readers to encourage them to further read the article. Graphical abstract can help reader to quickly get the take-home message.

Hullan et al. analyzed 54 graphical abstracts and outlined the common patterns of graphical abstract designs observed in published literature. They include:

  1. Process illustrations: The most common layout presenting the processes “using (hand‑crafted) illustrations on a linear or forking layout”.
  2. Result representation: Data visualizations in the form of line charts to depict research results was used by numerous graphical abstracts.
  3. Parallel layouts: These graphical abstracts include “parallel pictures laid out horizontally on the graphical abstract plane”.

Recently, the use of graphical abstract is gaining momentum. A recent study by Pferschy‑Wenzig et al. compared the visibility of manuscripts published with graphical abstracts with that of publications without the one in the journal ‘Molecules’. The study found that the manuscripts published without graphical abstract had significantly higher abstract views, PDF downloads, and total citations. However, this study included the comparison of research from a limited timeframe and also focused on one journal. Future research on other journals comparing research from longer time periods is warranted.

Some tips for designing a graphical abstract

  1. Always refer to the journals guidelines to check specifications for graphical abstracts. For example; Elsevier has the specifications on image size, font, file type
  2. Refer to the examples of graphical abstract from the publisher and see the one to which the new study matches and design it accordingly. Elsevier has enlisted 16 good examples of graphical abstracts for articles published in their journals
  3. Keep it simple and to one image only
  4. Focus on the design and composition
  5. Stay away from using saturated distracting colors for the abstract
  6. Graphical abstract should present the results of the study rather than the method used to obtain the results or the referenced literature, unless necessary
  7. Must be self-explanatory
  8. Must include keywords in the image
  9. Microsoft paint, Microsoft PowerPoint, adobe illustrator, ChenDraw, Coreldraw can be used to design graphical abstract. Several software available online can also be used, such as Mind the Graph, Inkscape etc.
  10. You can also refer to agencies offering services for graphical abstract designing

Turacoz Healthcare Solutions (THS) is a medical writing agency with specialized medical writing and editing services of Publication writing, Regulatory writing, and Medico-marketing document for the pharma industry. This blog aims to spread awareness about the increasing use of graphical abstracts in publications and its role in disseminating the published research information to a wide audience via online media.