June 11, 2014
Are geoscience journals ready for video abstracts?
Posted by Laura Guertin
How do we “get the word out” about a new paper we have published, whether the focus is scientific or pedagogical? We list the citation on our CV’s and perhaps on our faculty page of a department website. We might send copies to collaborators and colleagues at other institutions. And some of us will use social media to share the news of having a new manuscript released. Social science researchers in the UK state that to be well-cited and well-regarded academically, researchers should not be “academic hermits” but utilize tools such as Google Scholar Citations, Research Gate, Academia.edu, Mendeley, and LinkedIn to increase the reach and accessibility of their work.
But is there a need to find new, online tools to aid with dissemination of our work? Take this citation analysis report of scientific papers:
Ouch! “90% of publications in academic journals never cited; 50% never read by anyone but author, editor & reviewers http://t.co/l15W6lOqtm”
— Britt Koskella (@bkoskella) March 24, 2014
Here’s one solution… some journals are now encouraging authors to create short video summaries of their work to aid with dissemination. In fact, for over a dozen academic publishers, it is an accepted practice.
Publishers are hoping that video abstracts will extend the reach of the research, that by viewing a video on YouTube or on a journal website, readers will then select to download and read an article. Although a quick internet search did not yield for me any examples from geoscience journals, video abstracts can be found with the New Journal of Physics and the Journal of Number Theory. To help authors with the creation of this multimedia supplement, publishers such as Dovepress offer guidelines for creating a video abstract.
Believe it or not, a study has already been published by Scott Spicer (Univ. of Minnesota – Twin Cities) titled “Exploring Video Abstracts in Science Journals: An Overview and Case Study.” You can view his video abstract on video abstracts below.
(Interestingly, this video abstract is much longer than any of the others I have come across – most are 1-4 minutes in length)
I don’t think we are yet at the point of seeing “publish or perish” soon include “video or vanish” (Berkowitz, 2013), and we shouldn’t get hung up on the fact that we would each be challenged to find the time to create a video, that we may not have the technical expertise to create a quality product to best represent our work, etc. But perhaps we are at the point where video abstracts could enhance our dissemination? And just perhaps, we can make our scientific contributions even more accessible to our students by using video? It’s a thought…
Additional sources for exploration
University Affairs (2013). Video abstracts for beginners, posted February 6, 2013. (Article online)
The American Chemical Society Publishing Your Research 101 video series and the video segment Impact of video on scientific articles.
Bastow, S., P. Dunleavy, & J. Tinkler (2014). The Impact of the Social Sciences: How Academics and Their Research Make a Difference. London: SAGE Publications Ltd., 344 pp. (Google Books preview)
Meho, L. (2007, January). The rise and rise of citation analysis. Physics World, pp. 32-36. (PDF online)
Shema, H. (2013). What’s wrong with citation analysis? Information Culture – Scientific American Blogs, posted January 1, 2013. (Blog post)
Have you thought about the time aspects of this, not for the producer, but for the consumer?
If the target audience for this is academics, I don’t see it working. I read faster than I can watch a video; as it is I don’t have time to stay on top of the literature as well as I’d like. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. Thus, this isn’t something I feel like I’d want to invest time in.
If the target audience is wider than academic peers, that’s great, but the same dissemination problem that you cite at the top of the page becomes an issue. How do you let people know your video abstract is even something that exists and they might want to consume?
Great article, too.
You bring up an excellent point – if we don’t have time to read the papers in the first place, do we really have the time to watch a video?
Below I’ve pasted the text from the Dovepress website on their reasoning behind having video abstracts. Seems like academics are their target audience.
“The aim is to enable authors to personally explain the importance of their work to the reader. Video abstracts will enhance the reader’s understanding and appreciation of an article through the accessible presentation of the main results and conclusions reported. To maximize engagement and visibility, authors are encouraged to combine footage of themselves with other relevant material of interest—such as imagery, animations, footage of an experiment running or a lab tour.”
This practice also makes me wonder if, by requiring a video abstract, this would deter someone from submitting a manuscript to a specific journal in the first place.
Because video abstracts contain additional audiovisual elements that are not found in a text abstract, they can better help a busy reader to decide whether to read the paper. And if they don’t have time to read the full article, the video abstract can often provide better insight than the text abstract. Where they are particularly useful is in attracting readers from a related field who don’t normally read a journal but who would spend 3 minutes watching a video to learn more about a topic.
Saw that for AGU, some groups recorded and posted video abstracts before the Fall 2015 meeting – find them on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cDKYz13WBw&list=PLud6cqyUi1ikjCS9_JCnE6KQM2_lfc4Of and https://www.youtube.com/user/geophysicallab/feed