Cover stories: An emerging aesthetic of prestige science

Wang and Yao recently published a paper on the impact and development of cover art in relation to increase of citations in the academic literature, particularly in high-prestige journals such as Nature, Science and Cell. They’ve noted an increase in visuals in Science since the rise of computer graphics in the 1970s, but notably since 2000 with science visualization competitions and a tendency towards more glossy and aesthetically pleasing imagery as seen in the commercial world. Journals will often feature the cover story in several ways especially online, increasing visibility and hence readership.

“Our statistical analysis of citation data about papers in the CNS journals that have cover images shows the following:

  1. Cover-story papers in CNS journals attract more citations than the other articles in the same journal.
  2. Journals with a higher impact factor show a higher degree of visual content than journals with a lower impact factor.
  3. Different countries show varying degrees of achievement of cover stories compared to their achievement in publishing papers in CNS journals.
  4. The achievement of cover stories varies between disciplines.”

You can find the complete paper here:

As an artist who develops cover art, it is not just an aesthetic endeavor, but captures the core concept of the research in a visual pleasing way to a educated audience that might not be familiar with the integrities of your particular field. If you are interested in increasing your manuscripts impact and presence with cover art, please contact me for availability and an estimate.

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