What if academic journals included comics?

Yesterday I received copies of the journal in which I was recently published (hooray!). It is an article I worked on with several colleagues at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Waterloo about the personal influenza (flu) immunization rates of Ontario pharmacists. Basically, of the 780 pharmacists who took our online survey, 70% said they were vaccinated against the flu.

We decided to include an advocacy piece to encourage more pharmacists to get vaccinated. We worked with Sante Communications Group and they suggested designing a comic. Here is the finished product that ran alongside the article in the journal:

(The fact that Jenny looks a lot like me is purely coincidental!)

It was very cool of the Canadian Pharmacists Journal to publish our comic. And it got me thinking: what if academic journals ran more comics like this? Although they are expensive to print, they could certainly provide online versions. And some academic articles lend themselves to visualization more easily than others. It would take more time to publish the research as well, considering the effort involved in illustration and design.

But would readership be affected in any way? Would the public be more interested in perusing the journals? 

Would academics welcome some comics in their reading? Like a graphic novel version of the journal? Or would it be mostly interpreted as “dumbing-down” their research?

I’ve always valued presenting science in a form that is easy to understand for the public. It really forces you to identify the key points and bottom line(s) of the research.

Just some things to think about. In the meantime, kudos to the Canadian Pharmacists Journal for going out on a limb! 

Now perhaps it’s time for me to work on a graphic novel. 🙂


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