The Gist: I suggest that education researchers try two visual approaches for sharing research based on a model of dissemination for Twitter pioneered by the medical community. The first approach is the visual abstract that reflects a visual summary of a study’s textual abstract. Evidence demonstrates that compared to a text-alone approach, the visual abstract yields eight times as many shares on Twitter and three times as many people clicking to access the full article. The second strategy is the translational visual abstract (TVA) that is designed for sharing education research with non-scientific audiences. Moreover, the education research community can create a “bank” of visual abstracts and TVAs for sharing education-related work by including discipline-specific hashtags in tweets: #EdVisualAbstract for visual abstracts and #EdTVA for translational visual abstracts.
What is a Visual Abstract?
A visual abstract is a visual summary of an article’s textual abstract and thus has the same purpose as the traditional abstract: to convey, in a concise manner, the key points of a research article (APA, 2010). The visual abstract complements rather than replaces the scientific article. An example is shown below:
What is a Translational Visual Abstract?
A translational visual abstract or TVA, is an adaptation of the visual abstract for sharing an overview of a research article with broader audiences. The goal of the TVA is translational science that reaches practitioners, parents, policy makers, news media, and/or members of the public. An example is shown below:
Potential of Visual Abstracts for Sharing Education Research
The popularity and effectiveness of the visual abstract in the medical community suggest that it may also have potential as a dissemination strategy in the field of education research. Traditionally, researchers viewed publication in a peer-reviewed journal as the “end game, the final act in a long and difficult process,” but in present day more researchers seek to take additional action to share their research (Baron, 2010, p. 14). Visual abstracts hold promise as a strategy for reaching new readers, which in turn, may result in more engagement around our research and impact on educational practice.