How to succeed in academic publishing, with visuals


In this workshop you will learn to design a quality figure for your publication, PhD thesis or presentation, with hands-on practices and real-world examples. We will demystify many of the most common pitfalls and problems and give you some good practices that will avoid problems down the road. This course also includes a comprehensive overview of the ethics of image editing to assure scientific integrity at all times. The following topics will be dealt with during the workshop:

  • Technical aspects of quality figures:
    • Introduction to basic concepts: resolution, pixels, color modes, bitmaps, vector graphics, etc..
    • How to read instructions to authors (figures only).
  • Editing of scientific figures (do’s and don’ts to avoid questionable research).
  • Introduction to the design process of a scientific figure.
  • Graphical design principles and how to apply them to scientific communication and visualization.
  • Figures for papers: build from scratch with popular software:
    • Importance & relevance of visual communication and the opportunity it offers.
    • Introduction in effective communication principles.
    • Visual storytelling and visual hierarchy.
    • Build color confidence.
    • Annotations, graphs and callouts.
    • Typeface.
  • Publication figures versus presentation figures.
  • Tips to visually advertise research. How to stand out of the crowd and sell your research.

Please note: all examples and recommendations in the workshop mainly come from the disciplines Life Sciences, Physics and Chemistry. However the focus of the workshop is on teaching 'principles' that can also be applied in other disciplines. In that case participants might have to make a bigger leap to extend the analogy to their work.

This workshop is taught by Luk Cox and Idoya Lahortiga (somersault 18:24).

Learning outcomes

After attending this workshop, you will be able to...

  • prepare high quality, publication-ready figures (graphical abstracts, figures for publication (research, review, editorial) & grant applications),
  • discriminate between right and wrong image editing,
  • stand out of the crowd.


An important part of preparing for any further professional step is becoming (more) aware of the competences you have developed and/or want to develop. In the current workshop, the following competences from the UHasselt competency overview are actively dealt with:

  • academic research competences:
    • publication skills
  • intellectual competences:
    • creativity
  • personal effectiveness:
    • ethics & research integrity
    • self-development
  • interpersonal competences:
    • presentation skills


For whom?

  • PhD students and postdocs
  • 20 places available

When and where?

  • Edition 1: September 22, 2021 - 09:00-17:00
  • Edition 2: October 20, 2021 - 09:00-17:00
  • campus Diepenbeek, building D, room B104


  • Important: please bring your own laptop to this workshop. If this is not possible, please contact Lia Van Hoef timely (


  • Registration is closed since August 25, 2021.
  • As places are limited, registering does not automatically imply that you will be able to participate. You will be notified by email in due time.
  • Please cancel your registration at least one week in advance in case you cannot make it (cf. cancellation & no-show policy).

Acknowledged as?

  • DS HLS:  category 'transferable skills' - one compulsory elective course
  • DS ST: category 'scientific & generic communication' - one course about scientific and generic communication
  • DS BSH: category 'research management & communication skills' - one course/workshop aimed at developing research (management) skills

What others say

The training was eye-opening, interactive and hands-on. I would definitely advise anyone who is making images for papers to attend this course, as often you are not aware of how to export images from different softwares in high quality and what parameters to check to keep the image sharp. I really liked that they taught us the basics of photoshop and illustrator as I always thought these softwares are mainly for designers and photographers. Now I know I can also use them to make compositions and even poster designs and directly make images in high quality.
(participant in 2020)