Interactive Plots

About Interactive Plots

With interactive plots, authors can share valuable data behind graphsScreenshot of interactive plot viewer and plots

With interactive plots, Elsevier is introducing a new way for authors to include data and quantitative results with their journal article. Rather than having to choose between a visual representation in the form of a plot and a numerical representation in the form of a table, authors can now enjoy the best of both worlds.

Interactive plots present author-submitted data as a line or scatter plot, displayed with the article on ScienceDirect. Readers can hover over the plot to see the value of a data point right from the plot, or switch from a graphical view to a tabular view to inspect the data in greater detail. It's also possible to download the full data set for further use.

This feature was introduced in October 2013, and is currently available to a limited number of pilot journals.

Author instructions

To submit an interactive plot with your article, please upload your data as a CSV (comma-separated values) file when submitting your manuscript for publication to EES. This file format is a supported export option by a wide range of software programs including Microsoft Excel.

The CSV file should be formatted as follows:

  • Each column represents a data series. Your file should have at least two columns so that the data can be visualized as (X, Y) pairs on a plot.  If you include more columns, these will be presented as multiple data series on the plot.
  • The first row acts as header, and should contain the label of the data series in plain text. Please include units in the label.

The illustration below shows two examples of correctly formatted data files:

Examples of interactive plot data files

Benefits for authors and readers

The interactive plots functionality enables authors to enrich and extend their article by disseminating the data underlying plots in a form suitable for validation and re-use.

This provides a way to make a research paper more valuable to readers, enabling them to explore and interact with research data to build deeper insights.

Innovating & enriching content

For almost 350 years, academic articles have been published in a similar layout – a format which starts with an abstract and ends with a conclusion and a list of references. Articles were presented in this way with the reader of the printed version in mind. However most researchers now access articles online, which means that readership styles and how information is gathered have changed.

We are adapting to these changes because we want to help authors improve how their research is presented online and readers to gain deeper insights faster. Offering interactive plots functionality in our journals is just one of the ways we are doing this.