Make a video abstract for your research

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Video abstracts are another option for presenting your research to the world. They are a great way to explain your work to the public and researchers outside of your field. To paraphrase, they’re like value propositions on steroids – your research and toil condensed and re-packaged.

A 3 – 5 minute video will allow you to sum up what you’ve accomplished and documented in a journal article and, crucially, why it’s important to the world. You can use video abstracts to illustrate the concepts and experiments explained in your article, and to “introduce viewers to the methods you have used in your research and engage with your audience in a more informal manner,” explains IOP Press.

The rise of video abstracts has been driven by specialist scientific publishers, however they are being adopted by an increasing amount of publishers, many of which will be of interest for researchers like yourself, working in other disciplines outside the scientific community, such as Emerald, Taylor & Francis and Elsevier.

Today we’re going to walk you through the basics of creating a video abstract for a journal article: how to write a script, record the video using commonly available equipment, and share your video to get maximum visibility for your research.

Step 1: learn what makes a good video abstract

Let’s take a look at some different approaches to video abstracts:

‘Thrilling Affects: Sexuality, Masculinity, the City and ‘Indian Traditions’ in the Contemporary Hindi ‘Detective’ Novel’

Public Health and the Pandemic of Violence Against Women

Wavechasers and the Samoan Passage

Situational Nationalism: Nation-building in the Balkans, Subversive Institutions and the Montenegrin Paradox

Creating cultures of excellence: Strategies and outcomes

So, whether we’re talking about production values, structure, graphics, succinctness or clarity – what makes video abstracts good?

Wiley explains:

The best video abstracts tend to answer at least two of the questions below:

  • What does your article cover?
  • What are the implications for future research on this topic, or where would you like to see the field go?
  • How can your article be used in a teaching context?

Viewers need to know how your research is relevant to their lives, their universe, or the advancement of knowledge in your field.

But you can’t just say anything in your video abstract. Aim to keep your video simple and short, refrain from using jargon, and – if possible – tell a story that’ll hook your viewers within the first 30 seconds and keep them watching until the end.

With these principles in mind, let’s get started!

Step 2: gather your equipment

The basic equipment you’ll need will be readily available to most of you:

  • A computer, webcam, and microphone: Many newer model laptops now come with webcams and microphones built-in. If you don’t have one, maybe try a colleague or a friend. You can also use a desktop computer with a standalone webcam and microphone, if need be. And if you plan to do a simple video abstract (like the point-and-shoot video featured above), a smartphone that can record video will do in a pinch.
  • Video recording software: If you’ve got a late model MacBook, the pre-installed QuickTime Player Software can be used to create a simple screencast and iMovie can be used to edit any videos you create. Otherwise, check out Lifehacker’s list of best screenwriting software for the top Windows and Mac options.
  • Something interesting to say about your research: video abstracts are only as good as the stories they tell. No amount of production value can make up for a dispassionate explanation or remoteness from the viewer’s own life, experience or knowledge. In the next step we’ll share some research-backed tips on how to communicate your results. But first things first; you need the seeds of the story from which this video abstract will bloom.

Once you’ve got all that together, it’s time to choose a format and write your script.

Step 3: choose your format

Do you want to do a point-and-shoot video that’s simply 2 minutes of you describing your paper and its significance?

Would you prefer to structure your video abstract like a lightning-talk screencast, with you explaining slides and videos that illustrate your points from off-camera?

Or maybe you’ve got an amazing story to go along with your study, and some supporters in marketing that have a lot of time and money to help you make a splash with a killer movie trailer-style video? Maybe not, but it can be an advantage to think about all the shapes something like this could take. Big ideas can be scaled back according to your means and still work.

The format of the video you’ll create will likely be dependent upon what equipment and technical expertise you have on hand. While your script will be dependent upon your video’s format.

So, catalogue what you’ve got available and decide upon a format. Because we’re getting to the good stuff next: your video’s script.

Step 4: write the script

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You’ll use your script to narrate the story of your video. It doesn’t have to be written out, word-for-word; if you’re comfortable ad libbing, a simple outline will do. But you’ll still need to plan ahead on what you’re going to say, to some degree.

Create an outline

Your outline should follow a basic structure:

A problem statement

What question was unanswered before you began your research, and how did that affect the viewer’s life or the advancement of knowledge in your field? (“We know substantial social changes are reshaping youth identities across regional centres, but we wanted to talk more about how young people are responding to them.”)

A one-sentence explanation of how your research addresses a problem

Using as simple language as possible, describe the results of your study and what bearing it might have on a solution to the problem statement. (“After extensive research into contemporary discussions of place and social change, we saw how the responses of young people were conclusively shaped by identity.”) Both this explanation and the problem statement should fit into the first 30 seconds of your video.

An in-depth explanation of your study and results

Now you can dive into the detail, setting up the story of how you conducted your study – the types of methods you used or data you collected and analysed – and the specifics of the results you found and what they might mean. Remember to refrain from using jargon unless absolutely necessary, and explain any jargon you do use.

Reiterate what the problem is, how you solved it, and what it means

In the final few seconds of the video, you’ll remind the viewer of the problem or issue your study has addressed, and bring it back home to explain what bearing that has.

Invite the viewer to become a reader

Very important. If the viewer’s made it this far into the video, they’re likely hooked on what you’ve said and want to know more. Use this opportunity to point them to your journal article or post print, where they can read the full story.

Build your outline into a solid script

Once you’ve got a solid outline, you’ll need to decide if writing a full script will be useful for the video.

If you’ve decided to do a point-and-shoot video, an outline of your talk is probably your best bet. It will keep you on your main talking points, while avoiding sounding stiff or over-rehearsed.

Doing a lightning-talk screencast instead? Use your outline to create a slide deck, and then write out what you’re going to say, word for word, so you can read it while doing the screencast.

If you decide to write a full script, keep in mind that 120-150 words roughly translate into a minute of video. You’ll want to keep your video to 3-5 minutes, so plan to write a script that’s 750 words or less.

Need some inspiration? A great example script can be found on TheScientistVideographer.com.

Step 4: record your video abstract

If you’re recording your video abstract for sharing on a publisher’s website, you’ll need to do so with their guidelines in mind. So be sure to double-check their limits on the video’s length, quality, and how and where it’s shared.

If you’re creating a point-and-shoot video or a movie trailer-style abstract, pay close attention to the quality of sound and lights. Videos that are difficult to watch won’t get many viewers.

And if you’re creating a lightning-talk screencast video, keep Videobrewery’s advice in mind:

Keep dialogue to between 125 and 150 words a minute. And while you might be able to speak 200 or more words per minute on your own, keep in mind that the voiceover needs time to breathe, allowing viewers to absorb what you’re saying (this is especially true if the content is particularly dense or technical in nature). Machine gun fire dialogue quickly overwhelms viewers, causing abandonment and decreased comprehension.

Once your video has been recorded, you can choose to edit it with your video editing software. This is a good opportunity to remove your tangents and flubbed lines, but it might require you to learn a new skill. Sometimes, it’s just easier to record a second (or third, or fourth …) take instead.

One final option that’ll make your video stand out: add intro and outro music that’s licensed for reuse, which can be hunted down on the Internet Archive for free or purchased cheaply from somewhere like AudioJungle.

When you’ve finished recording, buy yourself a drink! You’ve just accomplished a pretty big feat: video-enhanced public outreach.

Now let’s get your video to the public!

Step 5: upload the video

Two popular platforms for video sharing are YouTube and Vimeo. Both can be used to track views and likes for your video, and allow you to copy-and-paste simple codes to embed your video in other websites. Neither offers long-term preservation, so you might consider backing up your video abstract on Figshare or a similar service.

YouTube is free and easy to use, but it has its drawbacks: they reserve the right to place ads on and alongside your videos.

Vimeo is also fairly easy to use and offers a well-designed, ad-free viewing interface. Its main drawback is that you have to pay for video uploads greater than 500 MB in size. You can disable comments and allow viewers to download your video, if you wish.

What to include?

When you upload your video, be sure to include a descriptive title (one that matches your article is ideal), a 2-3 sentence description of your video abstract’s content, and a full citation to your paper (including a link to a freely-accessible copy of its full text, whenever that’s possible.)

Step 6: promote your awesome new video abstract

Now that your video is online, let’s get it some viewers!

Some good places to share your video on the Web include:

On the article or chapter homepage: if the journal allows it, embed your video next to the written abstract for your paper. That way, potential readers get a more engaging glimpse of what your paper’s about, beyond what appears in the written abstract.

On your UON web profile: we’ve talked before about the advantages of using your profile as a home base for your work and career, so it’s the ideal place for any video abstracts you might put together.

Your blog: share the video along with a link to your publication and a transcript of your video, adapted into a blog post. (More on blogs and how to get one next post).

Twitter and Facebook: these social media platforms were practically made for sharing video with the public. Share a link with your next update and both platforms will automagically embed it for your followers and friends.

Done!

Your video abstract doesn’t have to be made with Academy Award glory in mind. It’s simply another option for presenting your research to your peers and the world. The real plus is that the form has the capacity to engage a wider audience and contribute to what this blog is all about: research impact and how to increase it.

 

 

HDR web profiles

 

We have had quite a few questions recently from academic staff about how their PhD and Research Masters students can promote their  work on the UON website, especially from those with student members in their Research Centre or Group. Fortunately, with the recent introduction of a new profiles management system, Nexus, it has become possible for PhD and Research Masters students to create web profiles, which are near identical to standard staff profiles.

Below is a brief overview of the similarities and differences between staff and student profiles.

Bryce-Abraham

  • As you can see, the HDR web profiles look very similar to the others. There are two differences:
    • Because they’re not employed by the University ** they won’t receive any data from the HR feed. This feed normally produces the qualifications section on the Career tab, which will display a list of qualifications. However, HDR students do have the option of including details of their Honours or Masters, for example in the Biography, which we’ll get to soon.
    • The header on HDR profiles will include a name and a generic description: ‘Research student.’ At this point this description is the default and we can’t create anything more specific.
    **If an HDR student does have a current staff contract they also have the option of creating a standard web profile. However, a number of HDR students have already chosen to go with their student profile as this is viewed as ‘more stable.’ They might get short, casual appointments, but their PhD could have more longevity. Note: If you do opt for a staff profile, you will need to use your staff ID to login to Nexus.

How to setup a student web profile in just two easy steps

  1. Log into Nexus

HDR students can use their student number and password to access the system.

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The above screen will greet you upon login. Select the Biography (highlighted – top left of screen). This is the primary section of the system you’ll be interested in.

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Now we’ll get to work:

First, upload a photo by selecting the ‘change picture’ option (above). This should be a square image – ideally 111px X 111px.

Once saved, this image will appear within the header of your activated profile – as we’ve seen with Bryce’s. You may change this at any time, just remember to save.

The vertical menu at the far left of screen offers the following options:

Expertise: enter research keywords, which will display in alphabetical order on your profile. These appear on the Career tab of an activated profile.

We’ve already spoken about Academic qualifications.

Professional Experience: create desired entries for positions you’ve held, within and outside of academia. This appears on the Career tab of an activated profile.

Links Management: enter a wide range of links to your social media / digital networking accounts, which will appear in the Connect with Me section on your web profile sidebar (see above). Options include: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, UONBlogs, personal websites / blogs, Pinterest, Skype, SoundCloud, Twitter, and YouTube.

Fields of Research: enter up to three of your six-digit FoR codes and allocate percentages for them. Find a complete list of the codes here. FoR codes identify your research and are very important for those of you who are publishing, especially for reporting exercises such as ERA (Excellence in Research Australia). These appear on the Career tab of an activated profile.

Biography: this area is very customisable, with options for images, hyperlinks and more. Please understand ‘Biography’ as a loose term here. You can use this area to promote your work in any way you see fit. It appears on the Career tab of an activated profile.

Teaching: used to enter courses taught. These appear on the Career tab of an activated profile.

Research identifiers: enter your researcher IDs for Google Scholar, ORCID, ResearcherID, Scopus ID, ResearchGate, LinkedIn, and Academia.Edu. These will appear in the Connect with Me section on your web profile sidebar (see above).

Groups & Centres: have your memberships to UON research groups and centres represented on the Research Networks section of your profile sidebar. Note that this needs to be done at an administrative level, so if you’re a member of something like Newcastle Youth Studies or Detective Fiction on the Move, let the Research Unit Communication Officer know.

The other tabs (across the top of page on your Nexus home page) give you options for creating records for things like funding and projects, should these things be applicable. You can learn more about these tabs in the Nexus User Guide.

Publications

Any publications you have will be represented on your web profile only if they are captured within NURO, the University’s research publications management system. So if you are publishing you’ll need to familiarise yourself with this system – it’s a must. Here’s the User Guide.

2. Get your profile activated

Once you’re satisfied with the content in your Nexus account you need to get your profile activated. This is simple. Just email jarrod.skene@newcastle.edu.au. Once I’ve done what I need to do, I’ll notify you and send you your activated web profile URL.

Note:

Once your web profile is activated you can login to Nexus at any point and add or edit content without the need for further approvals. Just be aware that there will be a delay before any changes update on the web. Under normal circumstances everything will have updated within 48 hours.

Homework

 NURO is the University of Newcastle’s research publications management system. Publications data captured in NURO is used to populate online researcher profiles and for research data initiatives such as the annual Higher Education Researcher Data Collection (HERDC) and Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). Publications in NURO are automatically harvested from online databases, including Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed and Europe PubMed Central. Publications not located in these databases can be manually entered into the system by researchers. NURO automatically searches the databases at regular intervals, or after you change your search settings.

If you’re new to the NURO system, login to NURO and download a copy of the user guide, then take some time to familiarise yourself with your NURO profile. Adjust your search settings or create a record for a recently published chapter or conference paper.

You need to use NURO efficiently to ensure the complete breadth of your research and practice is represented on your web profile. Remember: if it’s not in NURO, it’s not on your profile.