Part 3 on “How to accentuate the figures of a scientific paper”:
Re-drawing of Figures
I, just like most scientists, have no formal training in scientific data visualization. I rely on books that are primarily written for journalists dealing with data and for people working in business. Some aspects of data visualization we learn in our statistics and mathematics courses, but how to effectively use color etc. rarely is part of the curriculum. Apart from reading, I train myself by analyzing the figures in scientific publications. For you to improve too, I have here shown for four example figures how I analyze figures and the changes I suggest to implement.
1. Why is here a line? It seems its sole purpose is to separate panels A and B. This is not necessary if enough space is left between the panels and the panel contents are clearly grouped. Solution: remove the line and integrate the labels of the schematic model (“Liquid Disordered, Ld”etc) clearly into panel B – at the moment they float into the space of panel A and are visually cut off from panel B itself! In add ition, I have integrated headers directly into the figure – by now most journals accept this!
2. Inconsistency of labels: in panel A we see structures of Cholesterol and Diplopterol but neither is mentioned in B. Solution: For consistency the relationship of cholesterol, diplopterol, sterol and hopanoids should be made clear, especially since these terms are used throughout the paper.
3. Simplify labels 1: is it necessary to explain arrows and the strike-through of this arrow separately? Solution: explain it simpler!
4. Simplify labels 2: Redundancy between schematic and legend. Solution: Integrate part of the legend into the schematic – this would reduce cluttering and increase the readability of the schematic and also of the legend itself!
5. Color choice of the lipids: It is not clear why are some head groups yellow and green? Is it really necessary to distinguish these features of the lipids by color? Solution: remove all colors on lipids that are not the focus of this study – saturated and unsaturated lipids are easily distinguished based on their strikingly different shapes!
And now the same for Figures 2-4!