Beyond rules and regulations

In the previous post Holly and Jo went a little deeper into what Cochrane infographics can be like and how you might go about creating your own. Their post provides guiding questions on the what and the how, i.e. the contents (pictures and text) and the tools with which to put them together.

However, I’m a little scared that all this helpful advice is seen more like stiff regulation that will be enforced with almighty force. Ye shall include the Cochrane logo, the correct font, colour scheme, punctuation, hyphenation, etc., etc. or thou shalt incur the wrath and furious vengeance of Cochrane! Sounds ominous, right? Well, thankfully Cochrane is not actually eager to smite anyone with stone tablets of truth or any other instruments. Biblical or otherwise. There is still plenty of room to play around and to try what might work as a Cochrane infographic. To illustrate the point, I attach here a proof of concept I put together with my colleagues Ella Smeds and Matti Gröhn from FIOH.

Blunt needles improved

This is an animated GIF explaining the main result of Cochrane Work review Blunt versus sharp suture needles for preventing percutaneous exposure incidents in surgical staff and its relevance. Not too shabby, eh?

What it still admittedly needs is GRADE (high quality evidence) and an explanation of the kinds of operations in which the intervention has been tried and tested successfully (abdominal operations, vaginal repair and hip replacement). Also a link to the actual review wouldn’t hurt either. However, even with its present imperfections it is quite formidable in lodging a simple message into the viewer’s mind. The gif is also small enough to be attached to a tweet. So, if Ella, Matti and I were to provide a word of advice, we would chisel these points on our stone tablets:

  • Come up with arresting imagery that grabs the viewer’s attention. Moving pictures are more effective than static ones.
  • Emphasize your facts and main message!
  • Keep your infographic small enough so it can piggyback on a tweet.
  • Work iteratively and, if possible, with people who have totally different backgrounds and sensibilities than yourself.
  • Forget all advice you’ve read and heard (especially if listed as bullet points) and just try out something!

I often describe Cochrane as a global semi-anarchistic network (i.e. not just anarchy in the UK). The great thing about such a loose network is that it has tremendous amounts of talent and potential sprinkled all over the world. We just need to tease it out and tap into it. Thankfully Cochrane has already made great headway in leveraging its members’ skills further with new tools like Task Exchange. Hopefully we can put it to good use also in connecting skills and ideas when it comes to Cochrane infographics. The sky (i.e. not heaven) really is the limit here.

Jani Ruotsalainen, Cochrane Work, FIOH
With the kind help of Ella Smeds and Matti Gröhn, FIOH

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One thought on “Beyond rules and regulations

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

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