The importance of images in a scientific article has never been more important than in the age of technology. Visual enticements are everywhere, from the picture of a woman with perfect skin selling the new face cream to the eyes of the CCTV signs.
But I wonder whether images have now found themselves at the forefront of ‘selling’ us a piece of science? Do people really lack an attention span for words?
I don’t think it’s a matter of lacking the attention span, rather lacking the time to spend looking through an article to see if it’s interesting or not. Therefore making pictures the ‘selling point’ of a story.
I’m sure that academics who have spent years of their lives uncovering the uses of molecules won’t be that keen, that when the article finally comes in front of the public eye, there is a picture of a tomato pasted across the article instead of his years of work.
On the other hand without the enticing images would people care? I tend to think not, as people still judge a book by its cover. And if the cover was of a tomato or a molecule which would you read into?
Perhaps the images are doing the academics a favour and making sure that their work gets the attention it deserves, even if it is with the help of a tomato or a pretty sunrise.