Category Archives: Infographic

Visual Abstracts — Thoughts from a Medical Librarian

Visual Abstracts (Screenshot)

You might be interested in this initiative arising out of surgery, and primarily developed by Andrew M. Ibrahim MD, MSc of the University of Michigan. Dr. Ibrahim is a Clinical Lecturer in Surgery here and a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation. His idea of a visual abstract is kind of a blend of visual literacies, infographics, posters, and science abstracts.

In surgery, this is being adopted as a new strategy for creating journal article abstracts. It is being mentioned by the Annals of Surgery, Cochrane Collaboration, Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS), and the World Journal of Surgery, among others.

It lends itself to plain language explanations of concepts, clarity for funding agencies and policy makers, and as a tool for public outreach and education. The visual abstract may be more accessible to folk with cognitive or learning disabilities, while being less accessible to those with visual disabilities. There are powerful benefits, especially in this era of publicly contested science findings, as well as some significant drawbacks if we were to depend on the visual abstract to replace written abstracts. Another challenge is that it isn’t actually searchable in databases, and the issue of how to include and discover visual abstracts in MEDLINE remains to be addressed by the National Library of Medicine. Personally, I’m not sure that it replaces the full functionality of the traditional abstract, but rather supplements it, which I suspect is the intent. Offering both strongly empowers science communicators and educators, especially if the images are licensed to promote use and dissemination. It would be ideal if the standard of practice for visual abstracts would be to make them Creative Commons licensed.

Medical librarians must be aware of this, and should develop the competencies and skills necessary to make them so that they can help support their institutions as well as creating these for their own articles and research. One of the most common questions about this is how to locate or create icons to use. Just a few quick suggestions. If you have a significant budget, hire a graphic designer. If you have a smaller budget, consider licensing icons from the Noun Project. If you have more time than money, consider using Open Clip Art, where the images are free, but it may take more digging or editing for images you can use.

Cool Toys Pic of the day - Noun Project

So, how do you make these? Dr. Ibrahim has examples, videos, and guidelines available at his site.

Here is the direct link to the primer, including guidelines and best practices for the creation of visual abstracts, but I have not been able to get the direct link to work consistently.

Increasing numbers of journals are requesting visual abstracts as part of article submissions or are creating them as part of promotional content for highlighted articles. You can find many examples on the website, and more in the Twitter stream for the hashtag #VisualAbstract. Here are some examples from the past couple weeks.

Infographic of the Week: HHS Infographics Collection!

HHS Infographics on Flickr
Flickr: Group: HHS Infographics:

I just discovered a Flickr group that collects infographics from the US Department of Health and Human Services. WOW. Talk about a great resource! There are many infographics in the collection, and also marketing images for specific health challenges or initiatives.

HHS Infographics on Flickr

This isn’t all they have, though! You can many of these in sets or albums from the HHSgov Flickr Stream.

Flickr: HHS: Sets: Health Care Infographics:

Flickr: HHS: Sets: HHS Infographics:

Now, it is completely wonderful to have a one stop shop to go hunt health infographics from a reliable source and of known high quality. Extremely useful! But this is even better than that. Because these are in a Flickr Group, there are many other things you can do.

If you have a Flickr account, you can request to join to track the images that appear in the group, or you can use the RSS feed from the group in your feed reader.

You could set up a computer display in a public area, and start the “slideshow” view from the group as a way to engage the public around quality health information.

Because these are licensed as “United States government work,” you can download these, re-use them, post them yourself, put them on your website, edit and modify them. As they say:

Anyone may, without restriction under U.S. copyright laws:
* reproduce the work in print or digital form;
* create derivative works;
* perform the work publicly;
* display the work;
* distribute copies or digitally transfer the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.


However, because these are in Flickr, the absolute easiest way to share them is to just embed them on your webpage or site, or share the link wherever you wish. Here’s an example.

Recently, I’ve been seeing many conversations on social media, on Twitter, Facebook, and in blogs, about issues with patients access to their electronic health record and problems with the accuracy of the information in their record. Right now, this is again a timely issue. The HHS has a series of four short infographics on exactly this topic. I can choose one or any or all and, with a Flickr account, grab the embed code to put them in this blogpost without having to download or upload or rename or identify or worry about the accessibility of the code. Here’s what it looks like.

Know Your HIPAA Rights #1Know Your HIPAA Rights #2
Know Your HIPAA Rights #3Know Your HIPAA Rights #4

If someone clicks on any of the four images above, it will take them to the original image, in a larger size. The source is right there, and I didn’t have to do the work. So very helpful. I love this resource. So glad I found them!

Infographic of the Week: 8 Early Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

Beauty Cares: #1 of 8 warning signs in nine languages
Beauty Cares: 8 Warning Signs of Domestic Violence:

I was extremely impressed when I discovered the Beauty Cares: Education = Prevention Tour on the topic of domestic violence. They have a wonderful infographic that spells out eight of the most common indicators forewarning of a relationship that is more likely to become a battering relationship in the future.

There are so many things I like about this it is hard to choose where to start. I like the information, and the design. I like that they say, “DOWNLOAD AND SHARE!” at the bottom of all the graphics. I like that they translated it into so many languages (some of which you see in the picture at the top of this post).

But what I like most is how they are using this in schools. When I first saw this my first thought was, “I wish they had a full course curriculum in every high school where this image was the syllabus!” Well, they aren’t taking this that far, but they are taking it into the schools as part of a formal outreach program. I found blogposts on recent visits to four schools (with many more in the blog archive): Mary Louis Academy; Cathedral High; St. Joseph’s; & Long Island University.

Just imagine a room where a teen girl tells a story about a recent date, and other teens erupt at one point in the story, “Unhunh, girl, that’s CONTROL. He’s trying to make all your decisions. What do YOU want?” Where all the teens know these and recognize them when they see them, and get conversations going around them. It could be so powerful.

I’ve showed this to a few married couples, too. Happily married couples. It seems (in my experience) as if it is pretty normal to have a couple of these show up in a healthy relationship, every now and then, and not at extreme levels. Still, they are there. So don’t go feel like you must leave a relationship immediately if you see one of these. But if you see several of them, or any one of them is WAY over the top and out-of-control, or it doesn’t come and go but is there ALL the time … well, you might have a problem. Also, think about what are YOU doing in your relationships? How many of these do your partner have to put up with? Feeling sheepish? Well, we’re only human. But do try to be aware, and try to get it under control. If you can’t do it yourself, get help. And if your partner can’t get it under control, get help, and get out. Even if getting out is just until they do learn how to control themselves better.

But there are folk who can say it better than I can, and who know a lot more about it than I do. Here is a video from the Beauty Cares channel, followed by the complete infographic. (You were wondering what the other seven signs are, weren’t you?)

Aryn Quinn: Preventing Domestic Abuse & Teen Dating Violence


Beauty Cares: 8 warning signs of domestic violence

Beauty Cares: 8 Early Warning Signs of Domestic Violence:
1. Intensity
2. Jealousy
3. Control
4. Isolation
5. Criticism
6. Sabotage
7. Blame
8. Anger

20 Ways to Reuse Repository Content (Infographic of the Week)

20 ways to reuse repository content
Image source: Ayre, Lucy and Madjarevic, Natalia (2014) 20 ways to reuse repository content. In: Open Repositories 2014, 9-13 June 2014, Helsinki, Finland.

Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to find an infographic within a research article. This week is less surprising, but still a very practical application of infographics — a research poster! I can absolutely see using this idea myself, and actually saw a number of infographic/posters at a recent convention. The take home lesson from that is that infographic design and best practices are becoming a core competency for academics of all stripes.

This particular infographic struck my fancy because it provides interesting insights into ideas and strategies for maximising the impact of academic products. Create your research article and deposit a copy with the local institutional repository (which is, here, Deep Blue).

Deep Blue, 2014

Then you are done, and on to the next project. Right? Or not. One thing I’ve learned is that talk to a researcher around campus and most of them have a story about their favorite project that never got the attention they think it warranted. This infographic is chock full of ideas for what to do about that. Placing a copy in the repository is only the beginning.

Infographic of the Week: Learning in the Digital Age—“I Was Pleasantly Surprised”

Infographics in research articles?
Jeffrey Bartholet. Student Poll: “I Was Pleasantly Surprised.” Special Report: Learning In The Digital Age. Scientific American (2013) 309:72-73. PDF:

I was indeed surprised when I stumbled on this research article, went to read it, noticed the image thumbnail, and thought, “Oh, my goodness, that looks like an infographic!” And it was! We’ve been talking about infographics a lot lately. Our library is talking about the roles we could play as librarians in supporting infographic development for our institution and faculty. There were multiple presentations about infographics at last month’s Medical Library Association Annual Meeting. Also in the past couple months I’ve attended a few presentations about uses of infographics to promote research findings, for marketing, or health literacy outreach. But I had not noticed that infographics have crept into the actual published and printed versions of scholarly research articles!

This one was about MOOCs, which is another interest. I’ve taken (read “lurked in”) several MOOCs, without ever completing one. I have learned useful skills relevant to my job from a MOOC, but when push came to shove between the MOOC and my real life, real life won. Or just feeling tired won. This summer is different. My son and I are taking a MOOC together, watching the videos together, discussing the assignments while we do them. I’m going to be really embarrassed if my son finishes and I don’t. I’ll be even MORE embarrassed if I bomb out and my son takes that as an excuse for him to quit. So I was very interested in this piece of research on how MOOCs are used in science education.

“One in five science students surveyed by Nature and Scientific American has participated in a MOOC—and most would do so again”

It’s worth reading the whole short article. Here are just a couple small snippets highlighting key points.

Stefan Kühn: “I started the course because of personal interest … and was pleasantly surprised when I realized I was using it for my write-ups as well.”

Kathleen Nicoll: “Although some classes try to mimic research experiences in a virtual lab, that cannot substitute ‘for smelling formaldehyde or seeing something almost explode in your face and having to react to that.'”

Kathleen Nicoll: “One of the huge upsides is that MOOCs can reach everyone [with a computer and Internet]—people who are differently abled, people behind bars in prison.”

Jeffrey Bartholet: “Because failure is cost-free in a MOOC, the basic human tendency toward procrastination and sloth are stronger than in traditional classes.”

Shannon Bohle: “I like to share with my friends that I finished the course and hear everyone say, ‘Oh, you’re so brilliant. Kudos to you!'”

It also didn’t hurt my interest at all to hear about what specific courses these students and faculty found useful. I might actually want to take the one recommended by Kühn, Think Again. The infographic itself also contained some surprises. I didn’t realize that any universities were requiring MOOC participation for their residential students! Or maybe I’m misinterpreting that question? It made sense that people find superior career value from taking classes face-to-face. Hard to make a connection in a MOOC that could turn into a person willing to write a letter of reference for you. But it was surprising how the perception of learning value was almost equal! Here’s the infographic – what surprises you?

MOOCs: I Was Pleasantly Surprised
Image source: Scientific American

Infographic of the Week: Logical Fallacies

Your Logical Fallacy Is ...

Oh, the debates, the DEBATES! I don’t think a week goes by, often not even a day goes by, without the issue arising of the importance of critical thinking in health literacy. With respect to patients, this goes back at least hundreds of years.

“Grant that my patients have confidence in me and my art and follow my directions and my counsel. Remove from their midst all charlatans and the whole host of officious relatives and know-all nurses, cruel people who arrogantly frustrate the wisest purposes of our art and often lead Thy creatures to their death.” Daily Prayer of a Physician, attributed to Maimonides, but probably written by Marcus Herz. This prayer first appeared in print in 1793.

Don’t assume, however, that this applies only to patients or the public — it comes up just as often in the context of clinicians, faculty, researchers, and students. Especially students. You probably remember the famous quote misattributed to Socrates about the failings of the “younger generation.”

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” Wikiquote: Youth Nowadays

The parallel in medical education is the claim that the students have never learned to think critically, that they trust what they read without considering its potential flaws, that they lack the skills to examine the credibility of a piece of research, and so forth. The first time I remember hearing this was a few months into my first professional job from an Asian-American faculty emeritus at Northwestern’s Medical School. It was one of his favorite topics, and I heard it a lot. As a librarian, I tend to stand still and listen when the faculty emeritus start talking, and I’ve learned a lot that way. While he was the first, he was far from the last, and the topic has come up over and over again at all levels from many types of people, and in venues from face-to-face to professional presentations to informal Twitter chats and Facebook comments, alongside the parallel claim that medical faculty don’t know how to teach.

“Equally with the school as an organization, the teacher has felt deeply the changed conditions in medical education, and many of us are much embarrassed to know what and how to teach…. To winnow the wheat from the chaff and to prepare it in an easily digested shape for the tender stomachs of first and second year students taxes the resources of the most capable teacher.” William Osler, 1899.

In the context of all of this, I found this week’s infographic, Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies,” not only delightful, but also so useful that when it comes down from my door it is going up on the wall inside my office! I’m hoping to use it as a kind of checklist against which to check my ideas for sound reasoning. Chances are I won’t do this as often as I should, but even doing it occasionally should be helpful in the long run. One of the things I like about the web site is that it goes beyond the infographic distillation of concepts, and gives more details about each logical flaw individually.

Your Logical Fallacy Is ... Slippery Slope

Slippery Slope is one I see used a great deal these days in conversations around personal genomics, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, I hope you enjoy “Your Logical Fallacy Is … ”

Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies, (a.k.a. “Your Logical Fallacy Is”)