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Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS • Open Access

How to Write a Good Scientific Paper: Figures, Part 2
Author(s): Chris A. Mack

Paper Abstract

The great statistician and graphical expert John Tukey said, “The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.”1 While many graphic forms can help us accomplish this goal, the most useful for science has proven to be the x-y scatterplot. In 2012, about 1/3 of all figures in JM3, and about 70% of all data plots, were x-y scatterplots.2 The first modern scatterplot is attributed to John Herschel (1792–1871), son of William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus and infrared light.3 In 1833, John Herschel used a scatterplot of noisy binary star measurements to extract a trend “by bringing in the aid of the eye and hand to guide the judgment,”4 thus fulfilling Tukey’s goal. The scatterplot allows the viewer to visualize the important trends the data suggests, and possibly offer a theory to explain them, by imagining a line that passes “not through, but among them,” as Herschel so aptly said.4 By 1920, the scatterplot had come into widespread use as the tool of science we know it now to be.

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 March 2014
PDF: 5 pages
J. Micro/Nanolith. 13(1) 010102 doi: 10.1117/1.JMM.13.1.010102
Published in: Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS Volume 13, Issue 1
Show Author Affiliations
Chris A. Mack, (United States)

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