Academics are under increasing pressure to raise the profile of their research, not only through citations, but also by demonstrating public engagement and impact.
One way of sharing information in an accessible way is to create an infographic. Infographics are “liked” and shared on social media 3 times more than other any other type of content.
Laurence Dessart has written a blog post ‘From paper to picture: creating an infographic from your research‘ in which she describes her experience of creating an infographic from her JMM journal article Capturing consumer engagement: duality, dimensionality and measurement (co authored with with Cleopatra Veloutsou & Anna Morgan-Thomas).
In Laurence’s experience, creating an infographic was
“a challenging, yet very rewarding effort that helped increase … visibility of my work on social media, a way to get more citations in the future.”
Top tips on how to turn your JMM Journal Article into an Infographic
Here are our top 7 tips on how to turn your JMM Journal Article into an Infographic.
Break your article into chunks – it might help to think of it like writing a Structured Abstract
- TITLE: What is the headline? The title needs to (1) get the viewer’s attention and (2) describe what the infographic is about. Keep the title short – less than 70 characters is ideal for a title so it doesn’t get cut off when being displayed by search engine. This is then also easily Tweetable so people can share your content. Make the title accurate – try to include at least one of your key words.
- PURPOSE: What is the aim? What was the point of the research behind the article? Does the research fill a gap in our knowledge?
- CONTEXT: Why is the research important? Does it solve a problem? Does it have ‘real- world’ applications?
- APPROACH: How did you do the research, think about design, method, analysis
- KEY FINDINGS: What were the findings, think about data, results, and also how these can be
presented. Were there any surprising findings? What conclusions can be drawn?
- IMPLICATIONS: Do you think your research has policy or managerial implications? Is your research ‘newsworthy’? Think how you’d like your research to be covered in the media. What kind of impact do you want your research to have, e.g. Social, Policy, Managerial, Academic?
Think about: What is the story from your research? Who are your audience, who is the infographic for? What are the key words you should be focusing on?
- FOCUS ON THE BIG IDEA: You don’t need to fit your whole article into one infographic – think of the graphic as an invitation to read more about your research, and simplify your narrative to a few key points.
Think about: Hierarchy, what are the key points? Is there a narrative flow? The story does not have to be linear. Doodle! It may take a few attempts to get a structure you are happy with. Emphasise key information with size and prominence in the design.
- What information can be presented visually?
- What kind of graphics do you want to use, e.g. charts, icons? Keep these simple, avoid too many variables.
- If you use images, make sure they clearly communicate your message.
- If you use an online tool to create your infographic, they may provide stock images. Other sources include e.g. istock, shutterstock. Make sure you have the necessary copyright permission to use images.
Think about: Keeping it clear and simple – whitespace is important, don’t try to cram in too much information
- AUDIENCE: Who is the infographic aimed at? Make sure the style of the graphic reflects the right tone for your story
- APPEARANCE: It may help to use a grid structure. Keep images/text blocks aligned, and try to balance your design.
Maximum of 2-3 combinations of size and typeface
Look at the size of the text – if you were looking at the infographic on a mobile device, would it be readable?
Don’t use too much text, and keep it legible.
Use colour sparingly, use say 3-5 colours. Think about complementary or contrasting colour schemes.
Do some colours give signals, e.g. red meaning negative, green meaning positive? Remember there may be cultural differences in colour associations.
For a more in-depth discussion of colour, see ‘Color Theory 101: How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Designs’
Keep sitting back from your design – Do the key point(s) stand out? Is the purpose of the infographic clear?
How are you going to share your graphic? This will help determine size and shape.
If the image will be cropped for display in a social media feed, which part of the image will be seen? Social media frequently changes optimum image sizes, so check these out before you start. Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes
Build yourself using online tools, e.g.
There are plenty of templates and guides available for these, and they carry stock images that you can use in your design. They also have portfolios/blogs that you can look at to get more help and design ideas
Or, ask someone to create your infographic for you. Steps 1-4 will help you with commissioning an image.
- Don’t forget to cite any external sources
- Proof read!
- Give a link to the full article including its DOI (digital object identifier)
- Add your own contact details, including any social media handles
- Export your graphic in a web-friendly format
- You might also want to indicate the copyright of your infographic, especially if your research has commercial applications. You can do this using a Creative Commons licence. Descriptions of the different licences and limitations, along with downloadable graphics indicating the copyright licence, are available at https://creativecommons.org/
If you are posting on your own site, remember to include metadata, and provide social sharing or an embed code. You can find out more about embed codes here and embed code generators are available online e.g. http://www.siegemedia.com/embed-code-generator
Share with your networks.
Share on social media, and repost regularly.
- What is the headline?
- What is the narrative?
- What are the key points?
- What is the focal point?
- Are there any surprises?
- What are the implications?
- How do we find out more?
- Stones and Gent (2015) have identified 7 principles they call GRAPHIC, a useful set of evidence based guidelines for creating health infographics.
- The Ultimate Infographic Design Guide: 13 Tricks For Better Designs
- How designers do it: 15 easy steps to design an infographic from scratch
- Joanna C. Dunlap & Patrick R. Lowenthal (2016) Getting graphic about infographics: design lessons learned from popular infographics, Journal of Visual Literacy, 35:1, 42-59, https://doi.org/10.1080/1051144X.2016.1205832
- The 100 Best Infographics
- The BMJ has lots of infographics from articles on their website
- The ylmsportscience site by Yann Le Meur has lots of examples of infographics created from academic sports science articles.
If you do create an infographic from your JMM article, please let us know so we can help promote this through our networks. And, if you have any questions about creating an infographic, or blogging about your JMM paper, please don’t hesitate to contact the JMM Editorial Office.
(Post updated 31 May 2019)
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