Figures: Reasons & Reasoning

Categories: Books, Creativity, Dissemination, Getting published, Journals, Tools and Resources, Uncategorised, Visual Maps, Visuals, Writing

Tags: , ,

Figures can show findings, models, or relationships between ideas. They can take the form of diagrams, visual or geographic maps, graphs, charts, and other visualizations. Figures are important elements for your papers, articles or presentations, chapters or books so learning how to create and use them is essential for academic writers. This series of posts explores ways to think about and develop figures that will complement your academic writing. Make sure to look at guidelines and parameters from your publisher, and discuss the number, style, format of figures with your editor.


What are you writing, why? Answers to this question will inform the next step in regard to how you will use figures. Are you reporting on your research and findings, or presenting your ideas in a theoretical, thought exercise, or opinion piece? Is the focus abstract or practical? How will figures help achieve the purpose of this writing, and to that end, what do you want readers to do in regard to your figures?

Do you hope figures will help readers gain an understanding of key concepts and relationships, become aware of different perspectives, or actually use the figure as the basis for an exercise or project that allows them to apply your techniques to their own work?

If you are writing an article, you might have room for fewer figures. However, journals that publish electronically often allow for more flexibility in the use of color. SAGE author guidelines state that “images supplied in color will be published in color online and black and white in print (unless otherwise arranged).” Companion sites for books and journals published electronically make it possible to include links to other resources. If you have figures that you want readers to be able to use, you can link to templates or worksheets. For example, on the companion site for Qualitative Online Interviews, I offer worksheets that allow readers to use figures to organize and map their own interview research projects.

Reasoning and Figures.  Depending on the scope and scale of the piece of writing — whether it is a short article or a multi-chapter book — we can create a series of figures that encourage readers to think more deeply about the content we are presenting. The sequence and design of figures can catalyze distinctively different intellectual processes.

Sometimes we write in a manner that invites readers to think deductively. We show the big picture, then dissect, analyze and test the pieces. Other times we write in a manner that invites readers to think we write in a manner that invites readers to think inductively. We offer pieces, and then reveal the big picture. Or, we might write in a manner that invites readers to think abductively. We show the pieces and the whole, and asking readers to make sense of the interplay or find relationships between steps or concepts. What approach best fits the purpose of your writing?

 

How do you use figures? Use the comment area to discuss the types of figures you have created for publications, and your rationale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or opinion piece?

If you are writing a book, you might include numerous figures. I often create figures to represent models, that are developed and discussed throughout the book. Make sure to look at guidelines and parameters from your publisher, and discuss the number, style, and format with your editor.

If you are writing an article, you might have room for fewer figures. However, journals that publish electronically often allow for more flexibility in the use of color. SAGE author guidelines state that “images supplied in color will be published in color online and black and white in print (unless otherwise arranged).”

Companion sites for books and journals published electronically make it possible to include links to other resources. If you have figures that you want readers to be able to use, you can link to templates or worksheets.

What do you want readers to do in regard to your figures?

Reasoning and Figures. Sometimes we write in a manner that invites readers to think inductively. We offer pieces, and then reveal the big picture. Other times we write in a manner that invites readers to think deductively. We show the big picture, then dissect, analyze and test the pieces. Or, we might write in a manner that invites readers to think abductively. We show the pieces and the whole, and asking readers to make sense of the interplay or find relationships between steps or concepts.

Figures offer a way to put the desired sequence into place.

 

Leave a Reply