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Research Communication in the Information Age: Neurology Research Made Short and Simple

By Rachana Bhattacharjee | Nov 27, 2019
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The earliest archeological evidence of neurology and brain surgery has been found for the Incas of the Stone Age.1 Other ancient cultures—the ancient Greeks, Vedic people, ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, and Chinese—are also known to have engaged in treatment and surgery for various neurological afflictions such as paraplegia and epilepsy.2,3 It is not only archeological artifacts that survive as evidence of neurological work in ancient times; texts and other forms of written/pictorial records exist as well.

Today, in the Information Age, humanity continues its neurological endeavor at an unprecedented scale, recording research in a vast network of information powered by electrical pulses, a larger than life brain holding the world’s knowledge: the Internet.

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is the foremost result of a Google search on “neurology”. With three journals to its credit—Neurology, which is published weekly, and Neurology: Clinical Practice and Neurology: Genetics, which are both published six times a year—it is home to significant global neurological research. AAN is currently a 36,000-member community and continues to grow with new researchers and readers joining every day.

The brief:

Despite the high membership and the fact that its primary journal, Neurology, is the most cited and widely read peer-reviewed journal in the field, AAN found that their busy clinician members were having trouble keeping pace with the inflow of new research. They approached Impact Science, for a diagnosis and a possible solution.

Traditional journal articles are dense, complex, and sizable chunks of text. Reading and understanding them requires a significant amount of time and energy. A team of editors, writers, and graphic designers at Impact Science repurposed these journal articles into short but simple text and visual summaries, enabling readers to obtain accurate and comprehensive information on the latest work in the field without the effort of decoding complex and lengthy text.

The execution:

Select articles from AAN’s journals included in the corresponding print issues were converted into “short-form articles”. The salient aspects of each article and the core results were summarized in simple language and in an easy-to-take-in format as shown in the images below:

  • The key motivations, objectives, implications, methods, and results of a study on the follow-up to a clinical trial were pinpointed and reorganized under crisp headings for rapid and easy consumption; complimented with a key figure from the original paper:

    Other such articles were converted to eye-catching infographics as part of a drive-by AAN to expand their services. The Editors-in-chief of each of the three journals chose one article per issue for which the core information was distilled and paired with images and imagery to convey the research objectives, methods, results, and implications at a glance. These infographics are featured online with the corresponding issues.

    The following are some examples:

  • Images and text were used in equal measure to accurately, comprehensively, and specifically present the results and implications of a study that links brain structure with body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio:

  • Images were used to enable easy absorption of the salient points of a study on the effects of anxiety and depression on cognition in immune-mediated disorders:

  • Text was assisted by imagery to represent a study that attempted to determine whether aspirin reduces stroke risk in women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy:

The impact:

These text and graphics summaries were released both in print and online. They gained in popularity with readers in general and were able to successfully assist the busy clinician members of AAN with incorporating cutting-edge research in their stride. In addition, the brevity of the content lowered print costs and improved revenues.

Together, AAN and Impact Science took another step in the history of neurological research communication and they continue their partnership hoping to remain at the helm of the ship as humanity sails through its quest for knowledge.

References:

1 Andrushko, Valerie A.; Verano, John W. (September 2008). “Prehistoric trepanation in the Cuzco region of Peru: A view into an ancient Andean practice”. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 137 (1): 4–13. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20836. PMID 18386793.

2 Paulissian, 1991 p.35

3 World Health Organization, Fact Sheet #168

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