FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Here we disclose frequently asked questions about the cover picture, tips for getting it adopted, and behind-the-scenes stories.
About cover picture in general
QWhat is a cover picture?
AIt is an illustration that appears on the front cover of each journal. Depending on the journal, it is called “cover picture” or “cover art. Basically, each issue of a journal has one slot for the front cover, but some journals have multiple slots for the “Back cover” and “Inside cover”.
QHow do publishers and journals select the cover picture?
AIt varies from publisher to publisher and journal to journal, but for journals with only one slot, such as Front Cover, it is usually a competition among multiple researchers to submit a cover picture proposal. Other journals with multiple slots, such as Inside Covers, may be more competitive, but the competition is a bit more relaxed. In other cases, publishers and journals give priority to cover picture slots for highlighted research topics.
QDoes it cost money to publish a cover picture?
AIt depends on the publisher and journal, but basically, you should expect to pay for it. The cost is also different, but you will be quoted a fairly large amount, around 1,000 USD to 2,000 USD. The name of the cost may be specified as a subsidy for color printing costs.
QWhat are the benefits of being published in the cover picture?
AResearchers may have experienced the creative process of creating figures such as tables of contents and graphical abstracts in order to make their research more visible to as many people as possible. A cover picture is more visual than these figures, and is more likely to catch the eye of others, so it can be considered an appeal to other researchers. If adopted for the front cover, the cover picture will receive more media exposure as the journal’s cover, and thus can be expected to generate publicity even after the journal is published.
QWill the cover picture be published exactly as the researcher created it?
A It depends on the journal. Basically, the cover picture is accepted as is. In some cases, the publisher may ask you to modify the cover picture for formatting reasons, such as overlapping the figure with the journal’s logo. However, journals such as Nature and Science have their own strong design policies, so they may make considerable modifications to the cover picture data sent by the researcher.
QWhat can I do to make it easier for my manuscript to be accepted for a cover picture?
AThe best secret is to refer to examples of cover pictures from previous journals you are thinking of submitting to, to get an idea of what kind of flavor and design covers are used in those journals. At the extreme end of the spectrum are Nature’s sister journals such as Nature Chemistry, Nature Material, and Nature Photonics, each of which has a distinctly different taste in cover pictures. Furthermore, the flavor changes from one year to the next.
QIs there any affiliation between Science Graphics and the respective publishers/journals?
ANo, we do not. Our basic stance is to assist researchers in creating illustrations when they submit cover pictures to journals. Therefore, although our service does not guarantee the acceptance of your cover picture candidate, it can significantly increase the acceptance rate of your cover picture, since any journal will accept a well-crafted illustration.
Workflow and design
QWhy are there two types of plan available: the “Brush-up the draft” plan and the “Leave it to us” plan?
ABecause it is easier to proceed smoothly if either the researcher customer or Science Graphics takes the lead in the production process. In the “Brush-up the draft” plan, the customer takes the initiative in deciding the content and structure. In the “Leave it to us” plan, the client has almost no ideas, and Science Graphics makes the main proposals. Based on our past production results, about 60% of our clients have used the “Brush-up the draft” plan, and about 40% have used the “Leave it to us” course. Both of these courses produce graphics of sufficient quality for visual purposes.
QHow many figures do I need to prepare for the “Brush-up the draft” plan?
AThe figures you need to prepare should be simple enough. A cut-and-paste PowerPoint file or hand-drawn illustration such as those listed below (A, B, and C) will suffice. Of course, it is better to have detailed information, but as a minimum, the following illustrations, manuscripts, abstracts, and other materials should be sufficient.br>
QHow brushed up is your preparation in the figure?
ADrafts A, B, and C prepared in the above section will be submitted as a first draft as shown below, for example.We will prepare the following quality at the initial draft stage. Then, if necessary, we will work on revisions.
First response for draft sample A First response for draft sample B First response for draft sample C
QDo I need to prepare any documents for the “Leave it to us” plan?
AEven for the “Leave it to us” plan, please prepare a manuscript or abstract for your paper. If possible, we would also like to know your illustration preferences, so we can proceed more smoothly if you can provide us with examples of Science Graphics’ work that are similar to your preferences or to the content of your current research. Please let us know your preferences in the “Order Form”.
QWhat information do I need to provide about the submission rules for the cover picture?
APlease provide us with information on the journal’s submission guidelines for cover pictures, as they are published or individually announced by the journal. Science Graphics is also aware of the submission guidelines for cover pictures for each journal, so you can simply provide us with the name of the journal.
QIs there anything that should not be included in the cover picture?
AGenerally, violent, racist, religious, or animal-ethical violations are prohibited. Here are some specific examples to illustrate.
Violent depictions of people directly attacking others are, of course, NG, but weapons such as guns are also often deemed NG by publishers.
However, for simple weapons such as bows and arrows or swords, depending on the content, they are often considered OK. For example, illustrations that compare an enzyme or catalyst that targets a specific molecule or bond to a bow and arrow and a target, or a Japanese samurai cutting molecular bonds with a sword will not be a problem in most cases.
Direct expressions of discrimination are of course NG, but content that emphasizes skin or hair color is often NG even if there is no intent to discriminate. Therefore, it is often NG to draw in a way that shows a person’s face. A workaround is to change the figure to an inorganic hand or silhouette figure, such as a puppet doll. Expressions such as grasping a molecule with the palm of the hand are less likely to be NG than a human face, but again, too much emphasis on skin color is NG. A workaround is to hide the skin color by, for example, wearing gloves for experiments.
It is highly likely that anything that directly involves a god or other deity will be considered NG. However, many cultures have their origins in religions, and even those that are less religious in nature, such as Easter, Halloween, and New Year’s in Japan, would not be considered NG. Also, Greek mythological characters, Chinese hermits, dwarves and elves, and other fairy tales are unlikely to be NG.
Due to animal experimentation ethics, it is likely that realistic depictions of, for example, a mouse being dissected or a tumor being implanted in a mouse are not considered acceptable. However, simply depicting a mouse or in a deformed form is often considered OK. In addition, not only animal experiments, but also expressions such as shooting a fox with a hunting rifle or whipping animals in a circus are not all NG, but care should be taken.
In addition, as an individual circumstance in a region or time period, there have been times when editors have suggested that we refrain from illustrating with hurricanes or volcanoes, for example, immediately after a hurricane or volcano damage. I have also had editors suggest that I avoid illustrations with alcohol all over them when there was an alcohol scandal.
QWhat about copyrights related to illustrations created by this service?
ASince this service takes the form of a contracted CG illustration, the rights to the illustration are transferred to the researcher customer, and no moral rights are exercised. However, in most cases, a memorandum of understanding regarding the transfer of illustrations between the publisher and researcher occurs when the cover picture is submitted, so this will take precedence.
QI was asked by the publisher to submit a document regarding copyright transfer. What is this?
AThis is a document that requires the creator (researcher or a design company like Science Graphics Co., Ltd.) to transfer the copyright to the editorial department for the cover picture illustration (copyrighted work). This is often done in a specific format depending on the publisher. There are two main reasons for requesting a copyright transfer.
The first is that the publisher may divert the copyright to other publicity materials for the journal (e.g., web banner ads, novelty calendars, etc.) in addition to this cover picture use, and wants to receive the copyright transfer in advance.
Second, the creator (the researcher or a design company like ours) wants to make sure that he/she is not infringing on the copyrighted works of others when creating the illustration, and wants to avoid liability in the event of a copyright dispute with a third party later on.
For this copyright transfer document, you may sign it in the name of the requesting researcher, or you may sign it in our name, so please let us know if this is necessary.
Payment and delivery
QWhat about the payment for this service?
ABefore final delivery, payment must be made by credit card, and upon confirmation of payment, we will provide high-resolution data for delivery and copyright transfer documents. Payment can only be made by credit card. We accept Visa, Mastercard, JCB, American Express, Diners, and Discover.
Use of stock photos and generated AI.
QDo you use open source material collections to create your cover pictures?
AScience Graphics sometimes uses open source materials such as stock photos. In such cases, we use them under appropriate terms and conditions, in compliance with the terms and conditions of the websites that provide the materials. We deliver our productions in a manner that does not violate the Journal’s cover picture terms and conditions. When submitting to a journal, you may be asked if you are using open source material, in which case Science Graphics will provide you with the necessary documentation.
QDo you use a generated AI to create cover pictures?
ANo, Science Graphics does not use any generative AI to create cover pictures.
Currently, many publishers take a wait-and-see or reluctant stance on the use of generative AI for cover pictures, due to copyright issues. For example,the Nature Publishing Groupis well known for its articles. Other publishers, such as ACS, basically do not allow the use of generated AI. However, this is the situation as of 2023, and it is quite possible that the stance on AI will change in the future.