I recently saw a paper (biological sciences, genomics) that had such poor figures that made consider if I as a reviewer could have suggested rejection based on that. Issues in said paper:
ii. Multi-layers 3D donut plots ;
iii. red-green color schemes;
iv. inconsistent plots with poor labels.
This goes on for the 8 main figures, add nothing to the paper, and is so distracting that makes reading it and interpreting the results quite difficult. I assume the authors (two) know how to make decent figures because in some panels they used stacked barplots which in my view would have been used as replacement for the 3D donut plots.
So in an hypothetical scenario, is it ethical or acceptable for a reviewer to recommend rejection of a paper because of poor figures? Assumptions:
- the authors were asked to improve the figures but ignored the request or did not improve enough;
- the quality of the research is otherwise acceptable.