data in the spotlight


data presentation

Data presentation is one of the most important skills you need to successfully publish a manuscript. You can easily improve your skills by joining courses, but if you are a busy scientist here is a list of reading that will also help you out:

(non of these are dedicated to scientific publishing, but the general rules apply):

the functional art

Written by Alberto Cairo "The Functional Art" offers a broad, hands-on introduction to information graphics and visualization. It first describes basics of how humans perceive and remember information and then employs this knowledge to create visualizations. Covered topics include use color, type, and other graphic tools to make your information graphics more effective, not just better looking.

visualize this

Authored by Nathan Yau (, presents a unique approach to visualizing and telling stories with data. On top of providing information about theory of data presentation, Yau gives an overview of tools used for visualizations and offers step-by-step tutorials for creating statistical graphics, geographical maps, and information design to find meaning in the numbers.

data visualization: A handbook for data driven design

Andy Kirk is one of the most recognized trainer in data visualizations. Based on his experience he wrote this book which provides inspiration, advice and examples of good and bad examples visualizations. The book is loaded with practical help, checklists, case studies and exercises.

Authored by Margaret Livingstone this book is not per se dealing with data presentation. Livingstone's book describes how artists use color, contrast, and lightness to create certain effects in their artwork. Combining it with knowledge on retina's and visual cortex function the author created a must read for everyone interested in visual information processing.

vision and art: The biology of seeing



As with data presentation it's all about practice, practice, practice (and getting feedback). You can start your own blog, try writing for a newsletter and so on. If you would like to get some initial advice below I listed some essential literature:


The Elements of Style was written by a William Strunk and E.B. White. It is the definitive text and classic manual on the principles of English language. This short text provides basics onrules of Usage, principles of Composition, words and expressions commonly misused, and many others.


"This self-help guide is intended for scientists and medical professionals and students who wish to improve their scientific writing skills. Exercises invite the reader to practice the most important aspects of scientific writing. Although the book addresses certain issues more troublesome to scientific communicators of a non-English language origin, the guide will be of equal benefit to those whose first language is English. If you want not only to write but to write well, this book is for you."


"Provides practical, easy-to-read, and immediately applicable guidance on preparing each part of a scientific paper: from the title and abstract, through each section of the main text, to the acknowledgments and references

Explains step by step how to decide to which journal to submit a paper, what happens to a paper after submission, and how to work effectively with a journal throughout the publication process

Includes key advice on other communication important to success in scientific careers, such as giving presentations and writing proposals

Presents an insightful insider's view of how journals actually work―and describes how best to work with them"


poster preparation

Poster is a static representation of your work, that you can relate to when presenting at the conferences. It's less about the text you put on, more on the images that are supporting your story.

Better Posters is about making posters informative and beautiful. Blog is run by Dr Zen it gives advice on various elements of posters, such as titles, abstracts, general organization and many others.


image processing

Microscopy is an art. It takes a lot of time to learn how to capture images and then there is a lot to be learned about the processing and analyzing your data. Below I point out to blog that are helpful for image processing and analysis

Blog written by Dave Mason, showcases some of the interesting problems, and more importantly solutions, to post-acquisition image analysis problems.

Authored by Eugene Katrukha, a biophysists at Utrecht University, contains a number of Fiji plugins for analysing microscopy data.