The Role of Visual Abstracts in the Dissemination of Medical Research

Beverley C Millar, Michelle Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Medical research within the UK has continued to grow, most notably during the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years, which highlights the importance of disseminating relevant research findings. For all researchers involved in clinical trials and scientific research, the end goal of success is not completed following the publication of the research findings, but ultimately true impact and significance is achieved when such research has a role in developing clinical practice. Each year between 2.5-3 million scientific papers are published and the number continues to rise, therefore it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that published research has such a targeted impact as it must first get noticed. Increasing time commitments result in difficulties for clinicians keeping up-to-date with the current literature and in order to address this, journals and researchers have developed approaches to share peer-reviewed research with the wider research community in an effective and efficient manner. One such approach has been the introduction of the visual abstract which comprises of an infographic style format, coupled with a shortened, limited word summary of the research abstract detailing the key question, methodology, findings and take home message of the research study. The visual abstract has characteristics which enable it to be shared on social media platforms and in turn increase the interest and impact within the research community. Visual abstracts are being increasingly introduced within medical journals and organisations to help disseminate valuable research findings. This review focuses on visual abstracts, what they are, their history, structure and role within research dissemination and medical education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalThe Ulster Medical Journal
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 15 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Ulster Medical Society. All rights reserved.


  • social media
  • medical education
  • dissemination
  • visual abstract
  • science communication


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