Here's why academics and researchers need to embrace the art of infographics
Corporations, colleges, universities, scientists, researchers and students alike continuously make ground-breaking discoveries that struggle to leave the confinement of their niche corners of academia, business and science. Private companies spend jaw-dropping amounts of money to dig up data on their performance and economic impact, yet don’t know how to share it with potential donors or governmental influencers.
Imagine if Elvis Presley recorded all the same music we know today, but only gave copies of his records to close friends and family at Christmas time. Who knows how that could have altered the history of music? This is comparable to the way a lot of organizations, brands and academics approach the potential of their research. The blood, sweat and tears that go into their findings are not being reflected in its reach and potential for influence.
(There is land. You just need to build the right boat to get your research there.)
The ultimate solution: infographics.
Why? We’ll show you.
1. The simplicity
It’s safe to assume that most research papers fall between 5 - 30+ pages. That’s a big ask for a reader. Unfortunately, a compelling abstract might not be enough to keep someone's interest long enough to consume the content.
A well-structured infographic has potential to illustrate mounds of information in one single page. Don’t worry, the infographic is not necessarily meant to replace the paper. In many instances, it simply acts as a stronger precursor to reading the entire paper than the abstract itself. Infographics are designed to show the viewer the “what”, while the paper will act as the defining “why” and “how”.
As many as 50% of papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, referees and journal authors
We are experiencing information overload. The average person receives 5 times more information than they would have in 1986.
Colour visuals increase a person’s willingness to read by 80%.
So far - a no-brainer...
2. The human brain
The human brain is an immensely complex organ. Certain sectors of the science community are largely dedicated to uncovering more about how it processes information.
One thing we know as content creators: when we share information with people, we want it to leave a lasting impression. It’s been discovered that one of the best ways to do so is to pair text with relevant and appealing visuals. Sound familiar? That’s exactly what an infographic is (when done right).
People following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations.
Infographics tell a story and humans are hardwired to relate to stories.
The brain loves visual creativity and simplicity in text. This is why social media platforms such as Instagram are so popular.
3. The price
If you follow the standard model of distributing a research paper, you’ll find yourself paying to have it published in a peer-reviewed journal of somesort. Then, whether it be online, or featured in physical copy, that publisher charges an ever-increasing subscription fee for public access to read said papers.
The research that goes into producing the paper itself is a very costly endeavour. Not only is there a price on conducting the research, but your valuable time as well. It’s simply not worth
the risk of your research not reaching its potential for impact and consumption. Why not spending a couple extra bucks for an infographic and increase the probability of it being found and utilized.
US spending on scientific research more than doubled since 1990 (from $150.2 billion to $400.5 billion in 2010, in current dollars)
Universities typically subscribe to thousands of journals. Much of the available information is hardly read.
With more research being produced than ever, there is much noisier playing field in each industry. It’s simple economics. Whenever the number of competitors increases, you have to find unique ways to stand out or get left in the dust. In this case, dumbing down your content to reach a larger audience is your opportunity.
4. The visibility
Research and science communities are moving towards a completely open access and online system - perfect, right? Well, sort of.
Getting your content online is only half of the battle. Search engine optimization (SEO) still comes into play with online research papers. That is the process of developing and distributing your content in a way that it is most likely to be discovered by a potential reader.
This is a fairly new discussion among scholars. With the introduction of things like Google Scholar, we are seeing SEO being taken more seriously by researchers. Infographics are a great way to get your research paper discovered by more people. Often times research that has been converted into an infographic will be re-purposed by bloggers that reference your findings. This is a fantastic way to get backlinks to your paper.
“…these visual content pieces are generating more backlinks than any other form of content I publish, which—in the long run—helps increase my search engine rankings and overall readership numbers.”
5. The shareability
In 2008, Canada (followed shortly after by the U.S.) made it law that federally-funded research be made publicly accessible within 12 months of publishing. This is obviously a huge step in the war on misinformation. Even still, accessibility doesn’t automatically convert to visibility and shareability.
Many of these papers find themselves hidden in the depths of online publications, or tucked away in an obscure science journal, collecting dust in a retiree’s office. Infographics can be shared across Blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn easily and quickly.
Infographics are "liked" and shared on social media 3X more than other any other type of content.
Being encouraged to use social media now
Digital license purchasing of journals are replacing physical subscriptions. By 2020, the goal is to have 90% of all research papers digital.
When you simplify your research paper, it now has potential to be viewed in many forms:
- Social media post
- Website image
- Annual report
- And many more!
Are you tired of feeling like your research is going to waste?
It’s a lot of work, it’s not cheap and your time and/or money was invested into research because you believed it would improve an outcome. Consider this, the majority of the statistical data that went into the creation of this blog was pulled from infographics that subsequently directed us to research papers.
Let us help you build the gripping visuals you need that will help your hard work make an impact. Once you have it, it’s yours! You can do whatever you want with it.