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Distilling complex chemistry research into a colorful brew!

By Sharang Kolwalkar | Jul 24, 2019
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Does the word “chemistry” remind you of Breaking Bad or of Avogadro’s number? If it’s the latter, then you probably know your chemistry well. You’d also know very well that the major stumbling block in communicating chemistry research is the question of how it can be presented in an attractive manner. Often (mistakenly, dare we say!) dismissed as jargon-heavy and “boring,” chemistry is an extremely important branch of science that has important overlaps with the others. In fact, most research in the biological sciences has an indispensable “chemical” component—think proteins, DNA, enzymes, nutrition, hormones, etc. Impact Science acknowledged the need for communicating chemistry research via simpler and more attractive formats. What followed? Impact Science joined hands with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) from the United Kingdom, with the aim of making the top-notch research published in their journals appeal to a wider audience. The expectation was simple—create a series of engaging and exciting “infographics” and videos to explaining complex chemistry research to an expansive audience.

The brief

The RSC realized that at least their most attractive research publications—if not all—needed to be promoted via easily consumable, bite-sized pieces of information.  Of special interest was the paper selected every week by the RSC and termed as the “ChemSci Pick of the week” article. The idea was to accompany these top research articles with eye-catching infographics so as to maximize their reach. Such initiatives are known to improve article metrics in addition to traditional parameters such as citations, impact factor, etc. Impact Science knew that pleasing the mighty RSC would be no cakewalk, but the brief was crystal-clear, and rather creative output was envisioned.

The execution and the results

The science writers, illustrators, and graphic designers at Impact Science worked in tandem to distill the complex research into easily digestible infographics. An infographic relies mainly on visual elements supported by some text. The aim was to make the infographics attractive enough for readers to understand and share the research with their networks. The infographics were also designed to enhance the appeal of the research by using striking color schemes. Impact Science also created “video summaries” for some of the RSC articles; these were similar to infographics but had motion, animation, and narration. Some of the Impact Science creations are provided below.

This infographic is for a research article that describes how indoor particle emissions react with surfaces and how they impact indoor air quality. The use of complementary color schemes and congruent icons that result in asymmetry makes this infographic engaging.

One of the ideas was also to create a high recall value for these articles among students and young scholars. Therefore, while creating each Infographic, Impact Science used attractive graphics and vibrant color palettes, and this was well-received.

Video link:

For this article on the specificity of protein-ligand interaction, an out-of-the-box comparison with Tinder made this video extremely engaging.

Here, the congruence between the central theme of the research article (LED bulbs) and the color schemes and graphics used in this infographic (brightly colored bulbs) made this attractive and appealing to the readership.

The greater creative liberty apparent here (using a “fingerprint” icon and an icon for a person), coupled with the stark contrast presented herein, makes this research appealing.

The impact

Using Infographics to explain complex research articles helped in sharing the research easily on social media. It was now much easier for even the general readership to understand and propagate the complex research published. Eventually, this approach maximized the reach of the research paper by boosting its impact metrics. A “Pick of the week” article with an infographic had double the number of reads and downloads when compared to an article without an infographic.

Reaching China

China was important geography for the RSC. However, given the language barrier, there was a hindrance. Impact Science helped RSC overcome this constraint by adding Chinese subtitles to all the videos and Infographics for dissemination among the readership in China. In addition to this approach, Impact Science created portrait versions of infographics exclusively for the Chinese market, which could be shared on their ubiquitous WeChat platform.


The striking color schemes used in this one were greatly appreciated by the RSC.

In conclusion, Impact Science collaborated with RSC in simplifying complex chemistry research meant for a supposedly quotidian audience by communicating the research through infographics and video summaries for the general audience.

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