Pragmatic evaluation of The BMJ’s visual abstracts
The British Medical Journal has recently started making visual abstracts to summarise published research studies. These 1024 × 1024 px images give a quick overview of a trial’s participants, design, and key findings. These visual abstracts are designed to help busy health professionals and researchers get a quick overview of newly published research. The present article describes simple pragmatic evaluations of these visual abstracts: analysis of social media stats and an opportunistic reader survey. Our goals were to identify how useful our readers found this new visual format, and whether there were any improvements we could make. The social media stats were initially very promising. Longer term performance over several visual abstracts, however, was not as strong, suggesting a possible halo effect provided by the novelty of a new presentation format. The survey proved to be a quick and valuable way of getting feedback on the design of the initial template, and resulted in several design adjustments.
Keywords: visual abstracts, data visualisation, health, medicine, graphic design, publishing, science, evaluation, social media
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