Course: Data Visualisation and Visual Storytelling

03/10/2023 to 10/10/2023

EUniWell Online EUniWell-Event

Unlock the power of data visualisation! Join the EUniWell Research Communications Programme for Doctoral Candidates in “Data Visualisation and Visual Storytelling” and learn how to transform complex research into captivating visual stories. Apply by 22 September!

A cartoon of scientists turning data into colourful visual images.
© David Parkins.

About the Programme

The EUniWell Research Communications Programme is designed for PhD candidates interested in science communication. This online programme focuses on practical, interactive sessions, equipping participants to engage different audiences with their research. 

As EUniWell values interdisciplinarity and the learning that can come from mixing different interests, expertise and perspectives, this programme is open to PhD candidates from all Graduate Schools of the eleven EUniWell member universities (Birmingham, Cologne, Inalco, Florence, Konstanz, Linneaus, Murcia, Nantes, Santiago de Compostela, Semmelweis, Taras Shevchenko).

Aim of the programme

Engaging different audiences (general public, local communities, scientific community, professionals from various fields, and science journalists) can strengthen young researchers’ academic profiles. 

The participants of the programme will be able to:

  • Gain an awareness of audience types and their needs
  • Identify the most engaging part of their research
  • Experience developing messages for their research
  • Network with other engaged young researchers from the EUniWell member universities

Course details

Name: Data Visualisation and Visual Storytelling

Dates: 3 and 10 October 2023

(2 days! Candidates may only apply if they can attend on both dates.)

Duration: 10:00-16:00 CEST / 09:00-15:00 BST (break: 12:30-13:30 CEST / 11:30-12:30 BST)

Format: Online Zoom meeting

Language: English

Participants: PhD candidates from EUniWell member universities

Limitation: max. 12 PhD students 

Trainer: Gabriele Hess-Fernandez, science journalist and lecturer, Nantes Université

Course description

There is a story in your data! This course will provide you with the skills and insights to tell it visually. Proficiency in data visualisation plays a pivotal role in enhancing research quality and the publications that are vital for a thriving academic career. 

Scientific narratives are intricately woven through visual representation, enabling data analysis, result communication, and even the revelation of hidden trends or patterns. Inadequate data visualisation, however, can confound readers, distorting interpretations and even impairing public understanding of scientific concepts. The more complex the scientific data is, the more acute the need for good data visualisation – consider the controversies and misunderstandings around disease outbreaks or climate science! Yet, few scientists are trained in how to transform their data into captivating visual narratives that resonate. Data visualisation is part science, part art. This course will empower PhD students to navigate the delicate balance between artistic expression and scientific accuracy, ensuring a harmonious fusion of both. 


  1. Analysing the needs and interests of your audience.
  2. Understanding the strengths, weaknesses and biases of how the human brain perceives visual data. 
  3. Choosing the right chart for the data: plot types (pie and bar charts, box plots, temporal data, pathways, heat maps, untangling complex plots, maps, ...). 
  4. Working on the design process, editorial thinking, composition, layout and storyboard. 
  5. Using colour (colour coding, avoiding colour, mapping data to colour, heat maps). 
  6. Optimising elements of figures (axes, grids, ticks, labels, callouts, arrows, ...). 
  7. Keep it truthful! Make it functional, beautiful & insightful! Improve clarity! 

Teaching Methods 

The course is highly interactive and practical, a combination of informative PowerPoint lectures, followed by tasks, exercises and discussions. Attendees are asked to bring prepared graphics, present and refine them. Our working language is English. To ensure that each person gets as much attention as possible, a maximum of 12 participants is recommended per group. 

Pre-course task: Attendees will need to come with data sets and graphics they are working on.These can be for scientific papers, a slide presentation, a journal cover or any other visual project. We will work on improving these. 

Organisation: This 12 hour course can be completed entirely online. Supporting material and shared documents will be sent via email, the courses will take place via Zoom. 

The trainer: Gabriele Hess-Fernandez is a senior science journalist, editor-in-chief and university lecturer. Gabriele brings a wealth of experience in data visualisation for infographics and visual storytelling. With a fervour for both education and engaging narratives, she excels in delivering accurate information in an engaging way. 


The workshop is open free of charge to regular PhD candidates of the 11 EUniWell member universities. 

In the interest of an optimal learning experience, the organisers reserve the right to adjust the composition of the groups to include representatives of the different universities as much as possible – so first come, first served will not always be possible. 

The course has reached its maximum number of participants, therefore no further application is possible.

Application form

Contact: Eszter Turopoli