Communicating research: An introduction to designing & preparing figures

Training course:

Communicating research: An introduction to designing & preparing figures

6th October 2020

For PhD students & early career researchers


Dates & times

This course will run as a live online workshop session taught via Zoom on the afternoon of 6th October 2020:

Tuesday 6th October, 1330 – 1630*

*All times are UK time.


Displaying information in a visual format is an excellent way for researchers to communicate their work. Figures, tables and diagrams are key components of a published research paper (and a PhD thesis), and readers are often drawn to these before turning to the main text of the article. It is therefore important to plan, organise and design your figures carefully, considering aspects such a diagram type, titles, legends and the best way to visualise the data. Journals have specific requirements for figures so understanding what is expected of authors and preparing your graphics correctly can increase your chances of publication success.

Creating high quality figures can be challenging and there are many different ways to display data, from charts and tables to microscopy photographs and flowcharts. Data and information visualisation is a vast and rapidly growing field and creating good graphics takes time and practice. This course is designed to introduce participants to the subject & pique their interest, providing them with a set of resources that can be explored in their own time; it will not cover every aspect of information graphics, nor will it demonstrate any particular software (though a list of relevant software will be introduced and discussed), as these go beyond the scope of this short course.

This short course will introduce participants to the principles of creating figures for publication, including examples of good visualisations, common pitfalls and figures from the instructor’s own publications. The course includes a set of resources that participants can explore in their own time and consists of short lectures, discussions, individual exercises and anecdotes from the instructor’s own experience. 

At the end of this course participants will:

  • understand what is expected of them regarding creating publication quality figures;
  • have been introduced to the principles of good information visualisation;
  • have considered appropriate types of figures for using in their own research;
  • have been given a range of resources to explore in their own time;
  • have a list of relevant software to explore in their own time.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for PhD students and early career researchers from any discipline. No prior experience is necessary and the course is open to all. Please note that this course will be online only. 

Course content

Agenda  (1330 – 1630)

  • The importance of figures
  • Initial considerations
  • Journal & thesis expectations
  • Planning & designing figures 
  • Types of graphics
  • Common pitfalls
  • Copyright & Creative Commons
  • Relevant visualisation software
  • Resources & references

The above content will be delivered as a live webinar via Zoom. At the end of the session, participants will be given access to an additional, optional online training course, Intellectual Property Essentials, which they can complete in their own time on the Electv Online Training School

Who is the instructor?

This course is delivered by Electv Training, a division of The Scientific Editing Company. We are based in the UK and we deliver training courses to PhD students and postdoctoral researchers at universities and research institutes around the UK & Europe. The company was founded in 2011 and we specialise in both face to face and online training. We also organise and manage the popular annual scholarly publishing event, the ReConEvent Conference, in Edinburgh every year and have done so since 2013; the conference attracts hundreds of delegates and we have hosted speakers from a range of scholarly journals, universities, funding agencies and companies over the years.

The instructor for this course will be Dr Joanna Young. Joanna obtained a BSc in Microbiology, then proceeded on to a four year Medical Research Council scholarship, gaining an MSc in Informatics and a PhD in Neuroscience and Informatics from the University of Edinburgh. After her PhD, Joanna completed a three year postdoctoral position at the University of Edinburgh, prior to being awarded a Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship in 2010. She has published several papers and has been training researchers for the last ten years.

Testimonials from previous participants

“Thank you for this wonderful workshop! It was really helpful.”

“Excellent. A useful introduction to displaying information in academia. Highlights what to do and what not to do.”

“It was very informative with easy to understand slides. I learnt a lot of things I did not know about how data can be presented.” 

“I really enjoyed the webinar, thank you Joanna!” 

“Excellent. Very insightful webinar providing helpful tips as well as providing useful resources.”

“Enjoyed it very much! Great exercises that get you thinking!”

“Very useful! Presented with energy and enthusiasm, sets valuable context & emphasises the value of figures. Many quality resources provided to think about.” 

“Great course, would recommend to anyone who actively presents information and data.”

Course fees

We are offering a special, discounted early bird rate for PhD students and postdocs if you book your place before the 30th September. The course fees are as follows:

  • PhD student or postdoc – early bird rate:         £30 + VAT       (£36) *
  • PhD student or postdoc – standard rate:          £50 + VAT       (£60)
  • Corporate rate:                                                      £100 + VAT     (£120)

*Early bird rate is available for booking before 30th September only.

You can book your ticket by clicking the “Register for the course” button above. Registration will give you access to the full course including: the live taught online session on the 6th October, extra resources, an invitation to join the Electv community and an additional online course that you can complete in your own time.

Funding to attend

Several of the previous participants on our courses have had their places funded/ reimbursed by their institutions. If you are a PhD student or member of staff at a university or research institute then you may be able to ask your department or institute to pay for your place on the course. You may wish to contact your superviser or training and skills department directly to ask about this. Please note we cannot manage these queries on your behalf.

For researcher developers & graduate schools: block bookings are available for this course. If you would like to book places for several students you can do so via the ticketing page or we can send you an invoice (please email us at if you would prefer to pay via invoice.)

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