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151 votes

Referee wants me to add a plot – because the paper has none

While there may be a way to add a very cool and colorful plot to my paper, I don't think it is necessary, it would be complicated to read and so I should add more text to explain how to read it. It ...
Caleb Stanford's user avatar
118 votes

Is it acceptable that I plot a time-series figure with years increasing from right to left?

I think readers will be strongly expecting that time increases from left to right in a graph. It's probably not a "rule" that you'll find written down anywhere, but it's certainly the overwhelmingly ...
Nate Eldredge's user avatar
95 votes
Accepted

How were scientific plots made in the 1960s?

Those were typically made with lettering guides and French curves (I'd have liked to take a few pictures of mines, but I cannot recall where I put them: hundreds of hours at high school spent using ...
Massimo Ortolano's user avatar
87 votes
Accepted

Is it unprofessional to add illustrations to a master’s thesis?

If it is like putting a picture of a film star next to an article about them, then you should not do it. If they are merely "interesting illustrations" to "break up the wall of text&...
Oliver882's user avatar
  • 3,435
80 votes
Accepted

When does "copying" a math diagram become plagiarism?

Paraphrasing Simon Peyton Jones here, credit is like love. Giving it to more people does not diminish it or you. Even if you recreated an image yourself, there’s literally no reason to not attribute ...
Spark's user avatar
  • 28k
77 votes

Should I allow a PhD student to use figures of my Undergraduate dissertation in their PhD thesis?

All of science is building on the work of others, provided proper credit is given. Is your BSc. dissertation in the university's library or has it been published? If so, you should expect people to ...
Bob Brown's user avatar
  • 27k
63 votes
Accepted

Is it acceptable that I plot a time-series figure with years increasing from right to left?

The "rule" is that you should create figures that make it easy for readers to understand what you are showing. That's because we use figures to convey information. So, if your choice of axis is ...
Wolfgang Bangerth's user avatar
62 votes

How were scientific plots made in the 1960s?

This is less of an answer per se, but you mentioned you'd like to replicate the formatting for your own work. This can be done by hand if you want to, using the information in the top answer (thanks ...
C. McCracken's user avatar
50 votes
Accepted

Does careful selection of graph colors in a manuscript have any positive impact on reviewers?

Some people will tell you that colors shouldn't matter because only data should matter. Those people are wrong. All human readers (including reviewers) find some graphical presentations easier to ...
jakebeal's user avatar
  • 189k
47 votes
Accepted

Is Excel-generated chart acceptable for publication?

Excel can produce high quality charts, but it takes a lot of work. The biggest difference between Excel and other systems is the quality of the defaults. I suspect some people are using excel charts, ...
Ian Sudbery's user avatar
  • 40.5k
47 votes

Referee wants me to add a plot – because the paper has none

The paper is yours and it is up to you how you revise it. You aren't required to take every suggestion, but you should, at least, consider every suggestion, including what is behind it. Whether that ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 371k
45 votes

Criticizing other people's figures on my webpage

I can't even imagine a situation in which criticizing published academic materials on their merits would be wrong or immoral. How would it be different from criticizing someone's selection of an ...
Jeff's user avatar
  • 16.3k
41 votes

Is it acceptable that I plot a time-series figure with years increasing from right to left?

As others have already pointed out: The convention is that the numbers should increase from left to right. And even though it's not really a rule, but only a convention, it is so common that any ...
Marco13's user avatar
  • 1,254
40 votes
Accepted

I believe a publisher is infringing copyright when reproducing a figure I created. What can I do?

You attempted to use a crayon license, that is, modify the terms of an existing well-established license to better suit your needs. This is frowned upon, because it can cause legal complications. In ...
Federico Poloni's user avatar
38 votes

Is it unprofessional to add illustrations to a master’s thesis?

I must push back on the frame of your question: I think you should ask this question of your advisor for the following reasons: First, learning to write an academic paper or thesis is part of what ...
Anonymous's user avatar
  • 4,243
33 votes

Referee wants me to add a plot – because the paper has none

Have you consulted with others? Good data visualization is a skill in and of itself; just because you can't envision a good plot from your data doesn't mean there isn't a good plot to be made. ...
Jeff's user avatar
  • 16.3k
32 votes

How do some researchers have such beautiful figures in publications, while their homepages look simple?

What is good web design depends on the purpose. I am sure Wells Fargo Bank and Google both have access to expert web page designers, but I find the current versions of news.google.com and the Wells ...
Patricia Shanahan's user avatar
32 votes
Accepted

How do I ensure that the colormap shows well in black and white?

Another option to printing in black and white would be testing your figure using a website such as Coblis — Color Blindness Simulator. This way you can upload your figure and see what it would look ...
Charlotte Findlay's user avatar
30 votes

Is Excel-generated chart acceptable for publication?

Azor Ahai's comment about reproducibility is the most important one. I used Excel for many years in a professional but non-academic setting but gave it up when I needed auditable, reproducible results....
JeremyC's user avatar
  • 3,559
28 votes
Accepted

Is it necessary to repeat the axis labelling if the images have the same axis?

Keep the axis labels. It may be obvious to you that they mean the same thing, but it may not be obvious to a reader. Also, if somebody wants to excerpt one of the panels to discuss in isolation, it's ...
jakebeal's user avatar
  • 189k
25 votes

Describing figures vs letting figures speak for themselves

It is evidently true that figures/images can convey things difficult to convey in words (e.g., see Edward Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information). On the other hand, the exercise of ...
paul garrett's user avatar
  • 89.2k
23 votes

Recommended tools for graphs and charts

The R language has a number of libraries to produce clean looking graphs, for example ggplot2. The example below was made with the galluvial extension for ggplot2, one of many extensions that allow ...
henning no longer feeds AI's user avatar
23 votes

Are many figures in a paper considered bad practice?

I feel omitting too many of them and instead putting them in a repository or supplemental material will impede the general understandability. I'd urge you to reconsider whether this is the case; too ...
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 120k
22 votes

Is it unprofessional to add illustrations to a master’s thesis?

Textbooks often have pictures. For example Munkres' Topology: Consult textbooks and papers related to your masters topic for what a "professional" illustration looks like.
Daron's user avatar
  • 808
20 votes

Should I explain the type of a graph in my Masters thesis?

You should use your caption to explain what the graph is supposed to be indicating. i.e. "Boxplot of survey data showing generally higher level of experience with SVN than competing technologies". ...
Dan's user avatar
  • 301
20 votes

Why am I requested to compile my figure files with 300 DPI?

Well, the instructions are a bit old-school. They have the underlying assumption that you submit your figure files in exactly the size they are printed and they want the resolution of any pixel ...
Wrzlprmft's user avatar
  • 62.4k
20 votes

Are many figures in a paper considered bad practice?

there are quite a lot of figures: images of the different specimen, graphs of the results for each type of material, images of failure analysis for each type of material etc. I am only guessing from ...
Wrzlprmft's user avatar
  • 62.4k
19 votes

How to cite self-created images or pictures in thesis

There is no need to cite self-created, previously-unpublished images any more than you need to cite self-written, previously unpublished words. By absence of a citation you are claiming the work as ...
Bob Brown's user avatar
  • 27k
18 votes

How do some researchers have such beautiful figures in publications, while their homepages look simple?

Researchers don't have much interest in and time for design (exception: Edward Tufte), otherwise they would have become designers. Luckily, they can rely on the work of others for "beautiful figures" -...
henning no longer feeds AI's user avatar

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