1. bookVolume 13 (2021): Issue 2 (December 2021)
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
access type Open Access

Visual communication in research: a third space between science and art

Published Online: 22 Dec 2021
Volume & Issue: Volume 13 (2021) - Issue 2 (December 2021)
Page range: 18 - 27
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year

Ample scientific literature recognises the role of visual thinking in the constructive process of ideas and mental images and the function of visual intelligence in the communicative processes. Starting from the sectoral studies, we have turned our attention to the visual communication of the results of scientific research, relating it to some characteristics of artistic communication to find a shared ground, that is, a third space inhabited by common languages and competencies. In so doing, we have overcome the traditional antinomy between humanists and scientists, starting instead from the results of a recent study that has shown how such an opposition does not find real confirmation in the sector of science communication. We have thus analysed three case studies (graphical abstract, augmented reality, audiovisual documentation) on the grounds of a 10-year long experience of research in the field of visual communication (iconography and iconology, art teaching, video research) to acknowledge visual thinking and graphical/artistic competencies, situated in the third space between didactics and art, a fundamental role in the formation of a scientist and a researcher.


Arnheim, R. (1974). Il pensiero visivo. La percezione visiva come attività conoscitiva. Torino: Einaudi. Search in Google Scholar

Arnheim, R. (1984). Arte e percezione visiva. Milano: Feltrinelli. Search in Google Scholar

Bucchi M., & Trench, B. (2016). Science Communication and Science in Society: A Conceptual Review in Ten Keywords”, Tecnoscienza, Vol 7, No 2. Search in Google Scholar

Calabrese, O (1984). Il linguaggio dell’arte, Milano: Bompiani. Search in Google Scholar

Calvani, A. (Ed.) (2011). Principi di comunicazione visiva e multimediale. Fare didattica con le immagini. Roma, Carocci. Search in Google Scholar

Cheung, M. (2011). Creativity in advertising design education: An experimental study. Instructional Science, 39(6), 843-864. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-010-9157-y-3. Search in Google Scholar

Chiou, C.C., Tien, L.C., & Lee, L.T. (2015). Effects on learning of multimedia animation combined with multidimensional concept maps. Computers & Education, 80, 211-223.10.1016/j.compedu.2014.09.002 Search in Google Scholar

Ciardi, M. (2019). Il segreto degli elementi. Mendeleev e l’invenzione del sistema periodico. Milano: Hoepli. Search in Google Scholar

Cicalò, E. (2016), Intelligenza grafica, Roma: Aracne. Search in Google Scholar

Clark, R. C., & Lyons, C. (2010). Graphics for learning: Proven guidelines for planning, designing, and evaluating visuals in training materials. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer Wiley. Search in Google Scholar

Corazza, L. (2010). Video e comunicazione scientifica. Ricerche di Pedagogia e Didattica, 5, 1-8 Search in Google Scholar

Corazza, L. (2012). I laboratori di Artelier. Un’esperienza educativa che diventa un film. Infanzia, 9, 231-234. Search in Google Scholar

Corazza, L. (2017). Apprendere con i video digitali. Per una formazione online aperta a tutti. Milano: FrancoAngeli. Search in Google Scholar

Corazza, L., & Ferrari, L. (Ed.) (2012). Videoculture. Tra formazione, didattica e ricerca. Bologna: Clueb. Search in Google Scholar

Corazza, L., & Zanchettin, A. (2016). L’educatore di strada. Un mestiere invisibile portato alla luce da un documentario. Formazione & Insegnamento, XI, 1, 305-314. Search in Google Scholar

Corazza, L., Reggiani, A., Ferrari, L., Nenzioni, M., & Mäkelä, M. (2018). Visualisation in a MOOC. The TOX-OER experience. In Ana Isabel Morales Martin (eds), Challenges in Open Educational Resources. The Case of TOX-OER MOOC. Salamanca: Editorial Amarante. Search in Google Scholar

Davis, L. S. (2010). Science communication: A “down under” perspective. Japanese Journal of Science Communication, 7, 65-71. Search in Google Scholar

Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York: Putnam. Search in Google Scholar

Elgendi, M. (2017). Scientists need data visualisation training. Nature biotechnology, 35, 990-991. https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.398610.1038/nbt.3986 Search in Google Scholar

Evagorou, M., Erduran, S., & Mäntylä, T. (2015). The role of visual representations in scientific practices: from conceptual understanding and knowledge generation to ‘seeing’ how science works. International Journal of STEM Education, 2, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40594-015-0024-x10.1186/s40594-015-0024-x Search in Google Scholar

Feinstein, N.W. (2015). Education, Communication, and Science in the Public Sphere. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(2) 145-163.10.1002/tea.21192 Search in Google Scholar

Fiorentino, E. (2018). Il vero, il bene e il bello: le immagini come occasione di apprendimento significativo. In S. Ulivieri, L. Binanti, S. Colazzo, M. Piccinno (Eds.), Scuola Democrazia Educazione. Formare ad una nuova società della conoscenza e della solidarietà. Lecce: PensaMultimedia. Search in Google Scholar

Flessner, R. (2014). Revisiting Reflection: Utilizing Third Spaces in Teacher Education, The Educational Forum, 78 (3), 231-247.10.1080/00131725.2014.912711 Search in Google Scholar

Floridi, L. (1998). La logica e il pensiero visivo. Iride, 24(2), 343-358. Search in Google Scholar

Fooladi, E.C. (2020). Between Education and Opinion-Making. Dialogue between Didactic/Didaktik Models from Science Education and Science Communication in the Times of a Pandemic. Science & Education, 29, 1117-1138, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-020-00156-010.1007/s11191-020-00156-0 Search in Google Scholar

Frankel, F., & DePace, A. H. (2012). Visual strategies: A practical guide to graphics for scientists and engineers. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, New York: Basic Books. Search in Google Scholar

Giunta, L., Ben Guefrache, F., Dekoninck, E., Gopsill, J., O’Hare, J., & Morosi, F. (2019). Investigating the Impact of Spatial Augmented Reality on Communication between Design Session Participants - A Pilot Study. Proceedings of the Design Society: International Conference on Engineering Design, 1(1), 1973-1982. doi:10.1017/dsi.2019.20310.1017/dsi.2019.203 Search in Google Scholar

Greimas, A.-J. (1984). Sémiotique figurative et sémiotique plastique. In P. Fabbri, & G., Marrone (Eds), Semiotica in nuce. Teoria del discorso (pp. 196-210). Roma; Meltemi. Search in Google Scholar

Gutiérrez, K.D. (2008). Developing a sociocritical literacy in the third space, Reading Research Quarterly, 43 (2), 148-164.10.1598/RRQ.43.2.3 Search in Google Scholar

Hullman J., & Bach B. (2018). Picturing Science: Design Patterns in Graphical Abstracts. In P. Chapman, G. Stapleton, A. Moktefi, S. Perez-Kriz, & F. Bellucci (Eds.), Diagrammatic Representation and Inference. Diagrams 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10871. Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91376-6_1910.1007/978-3-319-91376-6_19 Search in Google Scholar

Ibrahim, A. (2018). Seeing is Believing: Using Visual Abstracts to Disseminate Scientific Research. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 113(4), 459-461. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2017.26810.1038/ajg.2017.268 Search in Google Scholar

Jefferson, T. (2007). Cattive acque. John Snow e la vera storia del colera a Londra. Roma: Il Pensiero Scientifico. Search in Google Scholar

Lane, S., Karatsolis, A., & Bui, L. (2015). Graphical abstracts: a taxonomy and critique of an emerging genre. SIGDOC ‘15: Proceedings of the 33rd Annual International Conference on the Design of Communication, 41, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1145/2775441.277546510.1145/2775441.2775465 Search in Google Scholar

Latour, B. (2011). Visualisation and cognition: drawing things together. In H. Kuklick (ed.), Knowledge and Society Studies in the Sociology of Culture Past and Present (pp. 1-40), Greenwich: Jai Press. Search in Google Scholar

Lever, F. (2019). Audiovisivo. In F. Lever, P. C. Rivoltella, & A. Zanacchi (Eds.), La comunicazione. Dizionario di scienze e tecniche. Retrieved from www.lacomunicazione.it. Search in Google Scholar

Lumbelli, L. (2012). Il ruolo della percezione visiva nell’apprendimento con animazioni. Form@re. Open Journal per la formazione in rete, 12(80), 21-26. Search in Google Scholar

Macauda, A. (2020). Visual learning and education for augmented reality environments. Img journal, 2, 180-199. Search in Google Scholar

Macauda, A. (2018). Augmented reality environments for teaching innovation. REM, 10, 17-25.10.1515/rem-2018-0011 Search in Google Scholar

Marzano, A. (2017). Mappe concettuali dinamiche e processi di rimediazione in ambienti di apprendimento in rete. Formazione & Insegnamento, 15(3), 245-278. Search in Google Scholar

Miranda, S., & Marzano, A. (2019). The augmented reality in the professional development: a systematic map. Form@ re. Open Journal per la formazione in rete, 19(3), 207-220 Search in Google Scholar

Murchie, K.J., & Diomede D. (2020). Fundamentals of graphic design essential tools for effective visual science communication. FACETS, 5, 1. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2018-004910.1139/facets-2018-0049 Search in Google Scholar

Munari, B. (1968). Design e comunicazione visiva. Contributo a una metodologia didattica. Roma-Bari: Laterza. Search in Google Scholar

Munari, B. (1971). Artista e Designer. Roma-Bari: Laterza. Search in Google Scholar

Nah, S.-M, & Lee, Y.-J. (2016). The Visual communication by Augmented Reality. Journal of Digital Convergence. 14(11), 507-512. https://doi.org/10.14400/JDC.2016.14.11.50710.14400/JDC.2016.14.11.507 Search in Google Scholar

Nayak, S., & Iwasa J.H (2019). Preparing scientists for a visual future. Visualisation is a powerful tool for research and communication but requires training and support. Embo. Reports, 20(11), 1-7.10.15252/embr.201949347 Search in Google Scholar

Novak, J. D. (2001). L’apprendimento significativo: le mappe concettuali per creare e usare la conoscenza. Trento: Erickson. Search in Google Scholar

Novak, J. D. (2012). Costruire mappe concettuali: strategie e metodi per utilizzarle nella didattica. Trento: Erickson. Search in Google Scholar

Panciroli, C. (2020). Per una didattica integrata: il modello CLAS, in: Animazione digitale per la didattica (pp. 19-33). Milano: FrancoAngeli. Search in Google Scholar

Panciroli, C., Corazza, L. & Macauda, A. (2020). Visual-Graphic Learning, in: Proceedings of the 2nd International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Image and Imagination (pp. 49-62), Cham: Springer. Search in Google Scholar

Panciroli, C., Macauda, A., & Corazza, L. (2020), Costruire relazioni di conoscenza attraverso artefatti digitali, in: Animazione digitale per la didattica (pp. 37-49), Milano, FrancoAngeli. Search in Google Scholar

Panciroli, C., & Macauda, A. (2019). Feedback images in university teaching, Form@re. Open Journal per la formazione in rete, 19, 234-246. Search in Google Scholar

Panciroli, C., & Macauda, A. (2018). Educazione al patrimonio e realtà aumentata: quali prospettive, Giornale Italiano della Ricerca Educativa, XI, 47-62. Search in Google Scholar

Pellegrini, M., & Mensuali, A. (2015). L’efficacia delle mappe concettuali per l’apprendimento: analisi critica di evidenze empiriche, Form@re. Open Journal per la formazione in rete, 15(3), 129-141. http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/formare-17154 Search in Google Scholar

Pferschy-Wenzig, E-M., Pferschy, U., Wang D., Mocan, A., & Atanasov, A.G. (2016). Does a Graphical Abstract Bring More Visibility to Your Paper? Molecules, 21(9), 1247. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules2109124710.3390/molecules21091247 Search in Google Scholar

Rastier, F. (2003). Arti e scienze del testo: per una semiotica delle culture. Roma: Meltemi. Search in Google Scholar

Rivoltella, P.C. (2014). La previsione. Neuroscienze, apprendimento, didattica. Brescia: La Scuola. Search in Google Scholar

Robertson, I. (2003). Intelligenza visiva. Il sesto senso che abbiamo dimenticato. Milano: Rizzoli. Search in Google Scholar

Rodríguez Estrada, F.C., & Davis, L.S. (2015). Improving Visual Communication of Science Through the Incorporation of Graphic Design Theories and Practices into Science Communication. Science Communication, 37(1) 140-148.10.1177/1075547014562914 Search in Google Scholar

Salmi, H., Thuneberg, H., & Vainikainen, M.-P. (2017) Making the invisible observable by Augmented Reality in informal science education context, International Journal of Science Education, 7(3), 253-268, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21548455.2016.125435810.1080/21548455.2016.1254358 Search in Google Scholar

Scamuzzi, S. (2015). Umanisti e scienziati: ancora due culture? In S. Scamuzzi e G. Tipaldo (Eds.), Apriti scienza. Il presente e il futuro della comunicazione della scienza in Italia tra vincoli e nuove sfide (pp. 235-252). Bologna: Il Mulino. Search in Google Scholar

Shams, L., & Kim, R. (2010). Crossmodal influences on visual perception. Physics of Life Reviews, 7(3), 269-284,10.1016/j.plrev.2010.04.006 Search in Google Scholar

Tipaldo, G., & Carriero, R. (2015). Comunicare la scienza. In S. Scamuzzi e G. Tipaldo (Eds.), Apriti scienza. Il presente e il futuro della comunicazione della scienza in Italia tra vincoli e nuove sfide (pp. 29-86). Bologna: Il Mulino. Search in Google Scholar

Trentin, G. (2015). Mappe concettuali, flussi di conoscenza e sviluppo professionale continuo. Form@re. Open Journal per la formazione in rete, 15(2), 4-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/formare-16990 Search in Google Scholar

Ulger, K. (2018). The Effect of Problem-Based Learning on the Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking Disposition of Students in Visual Arts Education. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.164910.7771/1541-5015.1649 Search in Google Scholar

Williams, R., & Newton, J. H. (2007). Visual communication: Integrating media, art, and science. New York, NY: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

Wray, C.M, & Arora, V.M. (2017). #VisualAbstract: A Revolution in Communicating Science? Ann Surg; doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002339.10.1097/SLA.0000000000002339 Search in Google Scholar

Recommended articles from Trend MD

Plan your remote conference with Sciendo