Presentation on theme: "AuthorAID Workshop on Research Writing Nepal March 2011."— Presentation transcript:
AuthorAID Workshop on Research Writing Nepal March 2011
Tables and Figures: Some Basic Advice Ravi Murugesan, MS, ELS Training Coordinator
The Big Picture IMRaD format in scientific papers – Introduction, Materials and methods, Results, and Discussion – You will learn more about these sections in the coming days Where are tables and figures in IMRaD? – Can be associated with any section Tables and figures are an established element of scientific research papers
Tables Rule of thumb: Use tables to present data that is detailed and that is important Tables are expensive in terms of space requirements and formatting demands Consider using text instead of tables if data is: – Not detailed: One or two sentences can be used to describe the data – Not important: The entire data does not need to be presented; instead, a summary can be given in text
Rows and Columns Tables should be formatted so that they have to be read horizontally (left to right) – the natural reading style – Not vertically (top to bottom) Arrange data in a table such that each row is complete in itself, and the different rows can be compared to each other
Checking Tables Units are given in the column headings for all columns that require units Numerical data are presented accurately – When dealing with large quantities, consider using exponents in the column headings Table formatting meets journal requirements – Usually only three horizontal lines (above and below the column headings, below the table) and no vertical lines Footnotes, if used, are correctly linked to the appropriate parts of the table The table is descriptive enough to be understandable without the text
Figures Rule of thumb: Use figures to – Show trends in data (as graphs) – Present schematic diagrams, images, photographs, and maps
Figures: Diagrams, Images, Photographs, Maps Clarity: Make sure that all the parts of the figure are clear and legible at the figure size you have used Completeness: – Label the important parts of schematic diagrams – Insert scale in images and maps Formatting: Check journal instructions – Resolution of images/photographs (usually given in dpi) – Size limitations
Figures: Graphs Tables or graphs? – Use tables to present detailed, important data – Use graphs to show trends in data Common data-presentation formats in figures: – Column charts/bar charts – Line charts – Scatter plots
Checking Graphs X and Y axes have labels and units Minor axes are used appropriately to indicate data points Space in the figure is properly used and there is minimal white space If you use MS Excel to create a graph, dont assume that the default options will give you a good graph – You may have to tweak the settings to produce a graph that is appropriate for your paper The graph does not look cluttered
Relating Tables and Figures to Text Do not restate all the information from tables/figures in the text of the paper – Tables/figures should not be used to highlight what has already been said in the paper Refer to all the tables/figures in the text – Point out the relevant part(s) of a table/figure when referring to it – Refer to tables/figures with their numbers (e.g., Table 1); do not refer to their location (like in the table below)
A Final Point Journals often have specific, rigid guidelines for tables and figures Read the instructions to authors before you design your tables and figures – Note: Some journals redraw figures to suit their own format. However, even for these journals, the submitted figures should be accurately, clearly, and neatly prepared.
Discussion Question If you have data that could be presented in either a table or a figure, how do you decide which one to use?
A General Suggestion Look at tables and figures in journal articles presenting research similar to yours – In your target journal – In other good journals Use these tables and figures as models when designing your own tables and figures.
Sources of Further Information Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Making Tables and Figures, Department of Biology, Bates College, (http://abacus.bates.edu/~ganderso/biology/resourc es/writing/HTWtablefigs.html)http://abacus.bates.edu/~ganderso/biology/resourc es/writing/HTWtablefigs.html Writing and Publishing Scientific Papers, Part 2 (from China Medical Board course), accessible at library?type=all&subject=preparing_tables_and_figu res&lang=all library?type=all&subject=preparing_tables_and_figu res&lang=all