Introducing the start of Cochrane infographics

Let’s begin at the beginning

Infographics in Cochrane – what’s that supposed to mean? Well, it’s an idea. I could claim it as my own but I’m sure that there are many others who have had similar Heureka-moments years ago. For example, see this poster presented in Hyderabad. Also infographics as a whole have been around for centuries already. Especially when it comes to health issues, one has to mention Florence Nightingale’s elegant creation depicting causes of death in the Crimean war. So I stay well clear of declaring any originality in that department. What then is all the fuss about? My idea, or vision, or inspiring mental itch if you will, is that it would be really cool to have a visual format for presenting results of Cochrane reviews, something like an intuitive pictorial Plain Language Summary. As there aren’t ready off-the-shelf solutions, it is up to us cochranites to roll our sleeves and put something together ourselves. So, the second half of my idea is to leverage the enthusiasm of individuals, to lure likeminded people together and see what happens with a loosely defined target. Pretty much the same way Cochrane began in the first place.

Why should I keep reading?

I propose embracing a bravely anarchist approach where anyone can participate according to their interests and, to some degree, skills. This means no committees and only the bare minimum of steering. Wikipedia is perhaps the best living proof of the power of the hive mind. Why not try a similar model? Talking of proposals, who the hell am I anyway to be making any? Am I a designer? No. Am I journalist? No. I’m just an Average Joe Managing Editor plagued by curiosity. I harbor no delusions of joining the pantheon of design gods like David MacCandless who can do wonders already (see for yourself). I just want to see what we can come up with for Cochrane. Can we formulate some kinds of templates or iconography that Cochrane groups can then easily use to put together their own infographics? That’s what I want to find out.

Who exactly is doing what here?

To help me in this quest I’ve enlisted a number of Cochrane colleagues including CochraneTech (the propeller-heads) and the communications people (can’t think of a fitting stereotype to illustrate). Next I welcome YOU to join us. What we have agreed in our little coven so far is that we set up this blog as a sandbox, a common playground where any interested party can join in by commenting on posts and by posting their own improved versions. We now kick things off with a little something we put together earlier. I made a rough sketch and Jacob Riis from CochraneTech kindly made it look pretty. It tries to depict the main result of this Cochrane review and some supporting facts to better convince the reader. What do you think? Does it have the right things in it? Can you visualize risk in some better way? Should we stick to just the results? Please jump in and enter your comments below.
Visually Cochrane 1st draft infographic blunt needles-page-001Blunt-needles

Is there a method in this madness?

The long term vision here is to push a few drafts through this anarchistic unplanned development process to be able to present the results at the annual Cochrane Colloquium in Vienna. Then later we can even run an experiment to compare PLS, podcasts and whatever visual delights we manage to whip up in terms of how people understand and recall their contents. There’s already similar project afoot in Aberdeen by Shaun Treweek and friends. It will be interesting to see if we can get similar results. And so, without further ado, join me and together we will rule the galaxy… erm…sorry… I mean we will make some cool infographics! Woohoo!

Jani Ruotsalainen
Managing Editor, Cochrane Work

9 thoughts on “Introducing the start of Cochrane infographics

    1. Title need to reflect the condition properly. Blunt needles half risk for what ?
    2. we need a way to figure out a way to put in the GRADE of evidence within it.
    3. Cochrane logo needs to be put.


  2. Thanks Soumyadeep. 1: Fair point. Blunt needles halve the risk of glove perforation, which is a valid proxy measure for needle stick injuries. 2: Feel free to sketch something. The SoF table is way too busy. I suppose every increase in scientific accuracy will mean an equal decrease in readability. Or that’s a serious risk anyway. 3: The logo is already there top left. That goes without saying. How about all the other trimmings, official colour scheme and whatnot? That’s what Jacob went for.


  3. We would be happy to share the info-graphics and link to the reviews from ThinkWell . This is great and they really lend themselves to a Cochrane review and are perfect so people can choose to dig deeper or just get great relevant info at a glance. I wonder if EBHC or health sciences classes etc might want to make it a competition. It would be great for design manpower and would be excellent for developing Critical Appraisal skills, easy to mark too


  4. I think the idea is beautiful! I also like the first sketch of a review. The challenge will be to depict the risk. Now 139 and 293 jump up from the picture but that does not match the size of the needles that seem to depitct the risk. Should there be a small blood droplet the size of the risk?


    • Thanks Jos. I agree that there are major challenges ahead in making justice to review results without ending up with an illegible mess. I have a secret agent working on a new improved version of this and I will do the same independently with our institute’s graphic designer next Tuesday.


  5. Great idea!
    Instead of using only the main Cochrane colours in the infographic maybe we could use the secondary colours to reflect the CRG, or the Centre or Branch of the author.


  6. Pingback: Quo Vadis Cochrane visualisation? | visually cochrane

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