How to Design an Effective Editorial Report: Part 1

Fast Facts:

Understanding who will be reading your report is key to determining what data to include in the report.

 

When selecting the chart type, it is best to consider what information you need to report. For example, some charts are better for quick comprehension, while others are better at showing more complex information graphically.

How to Design an Effective Editorial Report: Part 1

July 21, 2021

By: Jason Roberts & Sherrie Hill

There are a number of things that you should consider when designing your editorial report. Primarily these should include:

  • Who is your audience?
  • How will you present your report (e.g., written report, slideshow presentation, in-person editorial board meeting)?
  • What are your key indicators and what is the best way to represent your data?
  • How do you maximize data visualization: visual appeal, variety of charts and tables, appropriate level of detail?

 Know your audience

What information do you need to convey that is important to your audience?

For instance, if editors are more interested in their rejection rates over other performance metrics, then create charts that emphasize rather than bury that information amongst a host of other data (such as, in this case, turnaround time or article types handled). Origin Reports offers two and three variable charts. However, if your editors just want to know about rejection rates, then restrict your chart display to simply show that. The point is: give your audience what they want, particularly if it can result in actionable items. This is especially true at an editorial board meeting where only limited amounts of information will be digested. Consider presenting more complex charts and tables in a written report where the audience will have more time to process the information and its meaning.

 Choose the correct chart or table for your data

When trying to make a chart type selection, consider if your data are simple or more complex. For simple data, such as the number of submissions received in a given year, choose a simple chart, such as a bar chart. This will allow your reader to quickly comprehend the data.

If your data are more complex, such as needing to show evolving trends in submissions by manuscript type for various countries, then you will need a chart that shows more details, such as a chart with three variables (e.g., a chart that shows total submissions by country broken down by manuscript type). This will allow you to show the total for a given group, but also what types of elements, such as manuscript type, make up that group.

Are you trying to highlight a trend, show a comparison, point out an association, or simply stating a data point? Once you understand what you would like to display, try out various chart types to see which one most easily demonstrates the point you want to convey.

Complicated data stories often benefit by a narrowing of the data or reducing how much data you choose to show. This can be done by applying filters. By reducing the amount of data displayed, you can focus your reader’s attention on the areas that you think are of most interest, such as the countries with the highest submissions.

In August, we will post Part 2 of How to Design an Effective Editorial Report, which will cover how to make your report look more professional.  You can also register for the first in a series of free webinars, sponsored by Origin Reports, on best practices in journal reporting.  In the first webinar, An Answer is Only as Good as the Question, Dr. Jason Roberts will be discussing the basics of creating accurate editorial reports, including data point inclusion/exclusion, handling outliers in your data, and common reporting mistakes.

Register for the webinar at:  Origin Reports Upcoming Webinars

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