Don't be shy - create a video abstract

April 24, 2014

Extend the reach of your next research article with multimedia

A video abstract is inexpensive and relatively simple to create – no really, you don’t have to hire Spielberg, an iPad or web cam will do the trick nicely.

A while back we began inviting authors to submit video abstracts along with manuscript submissions to our journals. We thought they’d be jumping at the chance to show off their stuff, but alas we haven’t had many takers so far -- perhaps due to lack of time and resources, or just plain camera shy …?

Meant to complement the traditional research article, video abstracts  can highlight findings, entice a viewer to read the full paper, and hopefully improve understanding. With the overwhelming popularity of YouTube, abstracts in video form surely have the potential to improve discoverability; extend reach and impact; and pique the interest of a time-challenged audience.

These days, videos and podcasts are standard tools in the science communication tool kit. Many institutions have the facilities and the know-how (and possibly even the mandate) to help researchers broadcast their research to a wider audience. Ask around… you might find a willing videographer just waiting for the opportunity to showcase their own talents and creativity.

And, don’t be shy - you don't have to be "on camera" if you really fear the lens, use your lab and (or) field or figures and graphics for visuals, then voice over your descriptions.

If you do consider creating a short 3-minute video to accompany your article and need advice to get started, check out these tips:  “Video Abstracts for beginners”, collected by science writer Jacob Berkowitz and found on the University Affairs blog along with his 2013 article “Video abstracts, the latest trend in scientific publishing”; or visit the Scientist Videographer's blog - she's even put together a how-to ebook on the subject.

Interested in learning more about the purpose and background of the video abstract in science journal, and for a bit of video abstract inception, check out this video abstract for a research study titled “Exploring Video Abstracts in Science Journals: An Overview and Case Study.” 

For further inspiration, here are some recent sample from a couple of our journals. These show how simple and diverse the video abstract can be…

Video Abstract: A spatial capture--recapture model to estimate fish survival and location from linear continuous monitoring arrays by Joshua K. Raabe, Beth Gardner, Joseph E. Hightowerc, published in Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Read the full article.

This video abstract accompanies the article "Impacts of fire and climate change on long-term nitrogen availability and forest productivity in the New Jersey Pine Barrens" by Melissa S. Lucash, Robert M. Scheller, Alec M. Kretchun, Kenneth L. Clark, John Hom, published in Canadian Journal of Forest Research. Read the full article.

This video abstract accompanies the article Estimating reef fish discard mortality using surface and bottom tagging: effects of hook injury and barotrauma by P.J. Rudershausen, J.A. Buckel, J.E. Hightower, published in Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Read the full article.

If you’re thinking of submitting to one of our journals, do check out our guidelines. Videos should be approximately 3 min in length and should introduce the topic of the article; highlight the main results and conclusions; and perhaps discuss future potential developments in the field. The video abstract provides a "teaser" for a paper and should guide the audience into the work, emphasizing the most important result. The presentation should be understandable and, importantly, accessible to viewers outside of the immediate field of study. Note: Video abstracts are not peer reviewed and are not considered part of the scientific record.

Video abstracts can take many forms, pictures and slides with voice over or live action, or author speaking to camera. It depends on your science, how it might be best showcased,

Even if you’re not at the submission stage or if you’re well past it, a video abstract can be added to your article or used on your institutional blog, Twitter or Facebook accounts to share your research with the world.

Check out Canadian Science Publishing on Youtube.

(Written by Jenny Ryan; Image: Thinkstock; Videos: Submitted by authors)

Filed Under: NRC Research Press Scholarly Publishing Science Communication

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