Infographics for Knowledge Translation

This week’s guest post written by Issac Coplan, comes from the NeuroDevNet KT blog KT Core-ner. It was originally published on April 8, 2015 and is reposted here with permission.

The word infographic is an abbreviation of the term “Information Graphic”. Increasingly, these forms of data visualization have used in knowledge translation as a tool for disseminating research and sharing the findings of evaluations. The overall goal of NeuroDevNet’s KT Core is to influence policy and practice using network generated knowledge. Infographics provide a quick visual representation of the main messages in research. This makes them accessible to busy; decision makers/policy makers, practitioners, researchers, students, parents and families.

The rising application of infographics has been accompanied by conversations about incorporating visualization into post-secondary learning environments. Thompson (2015) discusses the concept of allowing students to create a ‘visual legacy’ through infographics. This meant bringing research projects to broader audiences by incorporating infographics.  Incorporating critical analysis of infographics also allows students to analyze the information that they are receiving, and practice creating a good visualization.

While infographics can be a persuasive tool, one of the overarching challenges of data visualization is the presentation both appealing and representative visualizations. This is the central argument that Tufte (2006) takes up in the book ‘Beautiful Evidence’. The opening pages quote famed Italian Astronomer/Physicist/Mathematician Galileo Galilei:

“What was observed by is the nature or matter of the Milky Way itself, which with the aid of the spyglass, may be observed so well that all the disputes that for so many generations have vexed philosophers are destroyed by visible certainty, and we are liberated from wordy arguments.”

demonstrating that while tools (like infographics) are new, debates around visualization are old and deeply rooted in scientific discussions. Tufte (2006) also argues that creating any good data visualization means paying attention to the quality of information and the accuracy of presentations:

“consumers of presentations should insist that presenters be held intellectually and ethically responsible for what they show and tell. Thus consuming a presentation is also an intellectual and a moral activity.”

It is this ethic that separates a good infographic, produced with attention to research, from an advertisement or infographic that is not based on research or accurate data.

NeuroDevNet has introduced a new KT product, infographics. Here is a quote from one of our researchers who recognizes the value of infographics for dissemination:

“Researchers generate knowledge, but it needs to inform to have impact. As research methods evolve, so do the ways of sharing information to others. Infographics represent a valuable way to do just that – to get main messages across in an accessible way to lay audiences. It’s a way to start a conversation, plant a seed, generate interest and bring people in to learn more.”

– Dr. Jonathan Weiss, Associate Professor, CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research

It is with this in mind that we began the process of creating the first infographic with NeuroDevNet Trainees Tamara Bodnar and Parker Holman. Tamara & Parker worked on a project where they introduced teachers to current scientific research that could be integrated into the  science curriculum. The project was delivered during a professional development day.

The following infographic was created using data collected to evaluate the  professional development day.

NDN Infographic

(Click on Infographic to open in a new window)

What did Tamara and Parker have to say?

“Infographics are a great way to present complicated data in a simplified way to disseminate a clear message about research; even for an activity as basic as our professional development day, infographics really help distill the main point of a project. The infographic really takes the burden of presenting our project to various audiences away from us, allowing the project to really speak for itself; the infographic is a nice, concise snapshot of our activities and response from stakeholders that is informative and easy to follow.”

If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and would like to make an infographic, contact the KT Core!

By: Isaac Coplan, KT Coordinator, NeuroDevNet

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