已有 8328 次阅读 2017-7-17 16:44 |系统分类:科研笔记

Softwares for Creating Scientific Images and Figures

In the process ofacademic research, the data obtained by researchers can only mean somethingwhen it gets published. Part of the publishing process involves being able togenerate scientific images and figures that represent the findings. Academicjournals have a set of standards for images and figures to be published. Thesestyle guidelines usual include certain features such as the size of theimage/figure, the resolution, the spacing, the font size and style, the filetype, and the layout.

The process ofcreating an image or figure for a manuscript is often a very time-consumingstep and, for younger researchers, this can be very daunting. Every academicjournal has its own requirements, so each time a researcher submits amanuscript they have to pay careful attention to these guidelines and followthem exactly. Fortunately, with advances in online publications and onlinesubmissions, the process can actually go quite smoothly. In fact, there are anumber of software programs now available to researchers that make figure andimage preparation something that goes hand in hand with data collection.

Using Software to Create Images and Figures

Every researcherhas their own favorite software program or programs that they use when creatingscientific images and figures. There are a number of programs available thataid in image/figure preparation and each has its own unique features andcapabilities. Here we present a brief summary of some of the most commonly usedsoftware programs.


·        ImageJ is animage-processing program that was developed at the NationalInstitutes of Health. It is freely available and providesextensibility via Java plugins and recordable macros. ImageJ lets users edit,analyze, process, save and print 8-bit color and grayscale, 16-bit integer, and32-bit floating point images. It is compatible with many image file formats andsupports image stacks. ImageJ can be used to calculate the area and pixel valuestatistics of user-defined selections and intensity-thresholded objects. Itmeasures distances and angles and can be used to make density histograms andline profile plots. It basically allows for image analysis and preparation, andwhen the images are saved they can be easily imported into other softwareprograms for further preparation.


·        PowerPoint is a software program that ispart of the Microsoft Office. It provides users with the ability to enhanceimages and figures through features such as cropping, add text, aligning,resizing, and changing the brightness and contrast. Many researchers find thisa standard mechanism for creating images and figures as they collect databecause this format is often used for presentation purposes. Images and figuresthat are created with PowerPoint can be saved as other file types to beexported into other software programs for further preparation if necessary.


·        Adobe Photoshop is considered as the mostpowerful image manipulation software that exists. It has to be used carefullywhen manipulating images for publication in scientific journals because itcontains so many features for enhancing images that it is easy to inadvertentlyviolate the image manipulation rules set by the publishers. Images can be sizedand the resolution and color can be altered. In addition, adjustments can bemade using the levels, curves, and brightness and contrast features. One of thekey features is that several images can be combined to create figures forpublication using layers and masking techniques. There is a bit of a learningcurve with Photoshop, but once the user has the basics covered, it is a verypowerful tool for scientists.


·        Adobe Illustrator isanother popular image editing software. It is a vector-based drawing programthat allows the user to import images, create drawings, and align multiple imagesinto one figure. The figure that is generated can be exported as ahigh-resolution image that is ready for publication. Illustrator allows theuser to fully customize and polish their figures. It has a large toolbox withmany features that can be used to create high-quality images and figures.

Tips to Prepare Figures

Although manyresearchers may find figure preparation a wearisome task, however, with theright tools it can actually go quite smoothly. Many scientists use acombination of some of the above-mentioned software programs to create theirfigures. Each program has its own special features and depending on the users’preferences certain aspects are quite intuitive. Here are some important tipsto keep in mind when preparing images and figures during the manuscriptpreparation process.

·        Be sure to follow the journal guidelinesexactly as they are written. By not following these standards the journal couldautomatically send our manuscript back without a review.

·        Review what constitutes image manipulation fraud,as this can cause rejection and embarrassment.

·        Review the figures for error before yousubmit your manuscript. When you focus on the details of how the image looksyou might not focus on the actual content. Make sure it reflects the data youare presenting in the text.

·        It is always a good idea to print out yourimages before you submit them. This will ensure they are presented well for thereviewers.










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