Translating research into pictures

Lily McGovern, PRYDE Scholar

Lily McGovern, PRYDE Scholar

I don’t know about you… but I personally struggle to pick up a research paper for leisure reading. The information in scientific literature is, of course, vital for research growth and development, but it can be challenging to read. As a human biology, health & society student on the pre-medical track here at Cornell, I’ve learned to decipher research jargon and write in “scientific language;” however, PRYDE has given me the opportunity to talk about research findings in a new way - through pictures and graphics! As translational researchers, it is our job to do just that- to translate research. With the help of PRYDE faculty, I’ve been able to develop my translational skills in a variety of contexts to best share relevant information with practitioners and communities.


The images above are from an assignment designed to help us as PRYDE Scholars learn how to translate a youth development research paper into a comic form. I began with a paper titled “Leveraging After School Programs to Minimize Risks for Internalizing Symptoms Among Urban Youth: Weaving Together Music Education and Social Development.” That’s quite the mouthful, right? I admit I barely understood what the title meant. But after reading through twenty or so pages of research methods and findings, I was able to extract the key information and present it through the cute little comic you see sampled above! Using musical references and engaging characters, I define what internalizing behavior is in context, then provide an example situation and potential solutions using findings from the research paper. In this way, a rather abstract developmental concept becomes a more understandable and applicable tool. Here's the full comic.

Growth Flow Chart.png
Resilient Child.png

These two images are from a guide I created (with the help of ACT for Youth research associate Mary Maley) for 4-H practitioners called “Promoting Resilience Through 4-H Programming: A Narrative Summary for Educators & Staff.” Our goal was to introduce and explain resilience as a construct, and then to suggest ways youth development programs like 4-H can foster resilience. To do so, I created a literature review of approximately 50 journal articles. Reading through the literature was tedious to say the least, but it helped me to see why translational work is necessary. Most people would never have the time to sift through the seemingly endless journal articles and decode the scientific language. Using the translational research skills that I developed through PRYDE, I was able to recognize and summarize the most important elements of the literature and present them in easily-accessible images. I then went on to explain the concepts in greater detail, but these pictures provided an awesome introduction to the topic at hand. Because of PRYDE, I am learning the importance of translational research, while also developing the skills to conduct it. Creating these “translational images” is truly an enjoyable process, and I look forward to carrying my translational research skills with me toward a future in medicine. As they say… a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Lily McGovernComment