News and Views articles appear in Nature-branded journals, summarising and critiquing newly published studies. Written by experts outside the research team, they inform the wider scientific community of novel research, promoting a broader readership as well as cross-fertilisation between fields. Most studies of genres that recontextualise science research articles for a broader audience focus on textual meaning. This article prioritises visual meaning, comparing News and Views articles and research articles. Corpora of research articles and News and Views articles were analysed using social semiotic analysis (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2021); interviews with expert authors of the articles also inform the investigation. Drawing on Daston and Galison (2007), a three-way categorisation was made of conceptual, technologically-produced and mathematical images. Findings reveal that visual meaning is central in both genres. In research articles detailed and exact meaning is conveyed using graphs and technologically-produced images (e.g., microscope images). News and Views articles use accessible, conceptual images such as schematic diagrams. Research article writers reported planning the article around the images, which function to validate author claims; as readers, experts reported examining images before reading the article. In News and Views articles, the image provides a conceptual overview of the text, matching the genre’s purpose in facilitating understanding of a complex study.
Copyright (c) 2023 Jean Parkinson, Angelicia Anthony Thane, Erandi Kithulgoda, Zihan Yin
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.