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Science Communication

Creating a Concept for Journal Cover Design

 

Dr. Rong Han, Managing Editor, Scientific Editing

September 2021



Showcasing your research on the cover of a journal is not only an honor but also attracts readers to your manuscript. Moreover, journals use their best cover designs for their publicity materials, which further helps to promote your scientific research. However, most researchers do not consider themselves as artists, so the question is: How do we turn technical research into sophisticated and accurate scientific art that grabs the attention of readers?

Summarize your research in a non-technical way

The first step is to decide what aspects are exciting about your science that you wish to share with the world. Try describing your research in a short paragraph using non-technical language. This will force you to think of your work in broad strokes instead of very technical details, as well as help you identify the main elements to be included in your design.

Identify the central element(s) for the illustration

Next is to decide which of the main elements, ideally just one or two, should be the center of the cover art. For example, if your research is about the fabrication of something new, such as a novel nanomaterial or improved device, this material or device should be the central element. The central element can also be a molecule, an organelle, or anything that is the focus of your research or visually appealing. Once you have identified the main element of your cover design, brainstorm the details to be added to that central element. Ultimately, the cover image should be an accurate and comprehensive representation of your scientific discovery.

Determine your cover layout

Lastly, think of where to place the other details around the main element(s) based on their relationships and interactions. Sometimes simply placing design elements next to each other can indicate they interact, like in this journal cover. Note that extremely abstract research ideas do not easily translate into visual elements. In such cases, use an analogy. For example, in this inside front cover, a series of chemical syntheses is presented as planets revolving around the sun; and in this cover, a spinning dancer is used to represent molecular spin.

Received an invitation to submit a journal cover design? Consider LetPub’s Journal Cover Design service. Whether you already have a clear concept for the cover and simply need help producing the illustration, or you need assistance from generating the concept to finalizing the design, we can work with you to create artwork that is original, scientifically accurate and visually compelling. Explore our gallery here.

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