Video abstracts

Have you tried to produce a video abstract based on one of your scientific articles? A number of journals and publishers nowadays allow video abstracs, e.g. New Journal of Physics och Current Biology. In Current Biology 24(9) 2014a Swedish research group have investigated why some mimics in nature are imperfect – e.g. why is a hoverfly so similar to a wasp – and shouldn’t evlution made these mimics into perfect copies instead. One answer seems to be that when a hoverfly imitates a wasp’s colors it is not subject to natural selection in the same way and the mimic does not need to become perfect. The group has produced a video abstract which can be seen here.

Kazemi, B. et al. (2014). Stimulus Salience as an Explanation for Imperfect Mimicry
Current Biology, 24(9), pp. 965-969. 10.1016/j.cub.2014.02.061.

An interesting development but it raises some questions like will “publish or persih” include “video or vanish” and how will the number of views be related to resouce allocation, and citations, what are the copyright aspects to take into consideration and what about the long term archiving? How will these video abstracts be registered in the institutional archives – as a piece of work on their own or as a part of the article registration?

Canadian University Affairs has identified that the first video abstract was probably published in Cell Press the 21st of May 2009. See it below.

It is interesting to be able to use other ways and media to spread research. To watch a 5-10 minute video is a new way to scan whether an article is worth time time and it has been adopted by younger researchers and some students. Video gives yet another dimension and possibility to explain difficult subjects which are too complex to explain in words only. These video abstracts could also be a way to make science and research results more available to those outside of the scientific shpere.

An article was recently published on video abstracts: Spicer, S. (2014). Exploring video abstracts in science journals: An overview and case study. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 2(2), eP1110. 10.7710/2162-3309.1110 The article has a video abstract but here a short summary: video abtracts are accessed mostly via the publishers site and not Youtube. Numbers show that a greater number of articles in top 25 and top 100 list had a video abstract compared to rest of the data set. Video abstracts is an evolution of scientific communication and the use of altmetrics will probably promote the use of multimedial publishing.

This development will probably have an effect on library work, like publishingsupport and other research support and perhaps even teaching information literacy. To even be able to produce video another type of skills are needed. University Affairs has created a guide to video abstracts for beginners: keep it simple, be short, follow the guidelines of publishers/journals, ask for help, tell a story instead of reciting facts, see to the lighting and audio and be yourself.

Pieta Eklund