If you can’t tell, I’m a little into journal TOC images. I enjoy ones which are either really well done, or really ridiculous. They grab your attention, which should really be the goal.
With the number of journals I skim via RSS (39 at the moment, it varies) I need the title or the TOC to jump out at me. Normally I’m just reading the titles, deciding if it is a) relevant to something I’m working on or have worked on, b) immediately gives me an idea for a proposal, or c) just sounds really interesting.
If your title doesn’t do any of those 3, you have a last chance with your TOC image. (Tangential point, some journals need to get their RSS feeds together, more on that in another post.) Put some time into your image, whether it be for making it look really good, or really ridiculous. With the time it took you to do the research and write the paper, is an hour or two for a chance to increase readership too hard?
Example of lazy TOC which prompted this post:
A photo of a molecular model? Sigh.