Kalliopi Monoyios is a science illustrator who works at the University of Chicago. She's the artist behind Your Inner Fish and Why Evolution Is true. She has a blog called Symbiartic where she writes about the trials and tribulations of
I was especially interested in her recent article about The DNA Hall of Shame.
Confession time. Illustrators are people, too. And by that I mean they bring assumptions to the table at the outset of every project. There’s no avoiding it – no matter how educated and experienced you are, you can’t know it all. That is why it is so critical for researchers and editors to be intimately involved in every draft of the drawings they commission and publish. This may sound like a mega no-brainer, especially if you’re an editor or art director in a field other than in the sciences who is accustomed to working intimately with illustrators to get what you want. But in my experience illustrating two popular non-fiction science books, illustrations are treated as icing on the cake and are glossed over by fact checkers and editors who otherwise comb manuscripts for errors. Illustrating Your Inner Fish is a prime example. The manuscript went through four drafts of revisions with at least two specialized scientific editors. And yet this gaffe made it through:I know exactly how she feels but even multiple expert reviewers won't save you. When we're writing a textbook we take care to review the text and figures together and we pay just as much attention to the figures as we do to the text. For the most recent edition—about to be sent to the printer—the pages were reviewed by me, my coauthor Marc Perry, our developmental editor Michael Sypes (University of Arizona), content reviewer Barry Ganong (Mansfield University), and accuracy reviewers Scott Lefler (Arizona State University) & Kathleen Nolta (University of Michigan). That's six pairs of expert eyes that look at every page.
All the previous editions went through the same intensive review. Nevertheless, the following incorrect figure—originally drawn by me back in 1992— has been published in four books. It wasn't until Barry Ganong looked at it a few months ago that he recognized the error. Can you spot it? It's subtle, and it may only be apparent to experts on DNA structure, but it's an error nevertheless.1
I add it to The DNA Hall of Shame.
1. I'll post the correct version in a few days.