Video abstracts are a great way to explain your work to the public and researchers outside of your field.
Video abstracts 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.
These 3-5 minute videos 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 concepts explained in your article, to “introduce viewers to the equipment and tools you have used in your research and engage with your audience in a more informal manner,” explains IOP Press.
An increasing number of publishers are adopting video abstracts as a great way to market research articles, and in less than an hour you can create one of your own.
Here are some award-winning and highly ranked video abstracts:
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 will hook your viewers within the first 30 seconds and keep them watching until the end.
With these principles in mind, let’s get started!
The basic equipment you’ll need is readily available.
Once you’ve got all that together, it’s time to choose a format and write your script.
Do you want to do a point-and-shoot video that’s simply 2 minutes of you describing your paper and why it rocks?
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?
The format of the video you’ll create will likely be dependent upon what equipment and technical expertise you have on hand. And 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.
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. More than anything it is important that you practice two or three times before you start filming. You’ll be amazed at the difference a few low pressure practice sessions make.
Create an outline
Your outline should follow a basic structure.
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.
If you’re recording your video abstract for sharing on a publisher’s website, you’ll need to record your video according to their guidelines. Be sure to double check their limits on the video’s length, quality, and how and where it’s shared.
Pay close attention to the quality of sound and lights. Videos that are difficult to watch won’t get many viewers. The University Affairs blog recommends using “a lapel microphone, ideally, or else a very quiet room. Ensure that lights are facing the speaker and avoid backlighting, which happens when you situate the interview subject against a window.”
And if you’re creating a lightning-talk screencast video, consider paying a professional voiceover artist to narrate it. They often have the experience and audio equipment that will make your video sound professionally produced, and you can hire one easily on Fiverr.
If you’d rather do the voiceover yourself, keep Videobrewery’s advice in mind:
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 take instead.
One final option that’ll make your video stand out: add intro and outro music that’s licensed for reuse, which you can find on dig.CCmixter, the Internet Archive (make sure the usage rights include a Creative Commons license), or simply run a search from Creative Commons on both ccMixter and Soundcloud. If you’re unable to find music among all the openly licensed options, you can also purchase music cheaply from AudioJungle.
Captions or subtitles are a necessary addition to your video abstract. They will make your abstract accessible both to the deaf and hearing impaired community, as well as to individuals who have an easier time reading than listening to the language you choose for your video. If you have the technical acumen to add these yourself, you probably already understand how to do it. If you do not trust your abilities, do not fear. As always, we have a solution for you.
If you will be uploading your video to YouTube (highly recommended), you can automatically add closed captions to your video. YouTube has restrictions based on the time length of the video, but if you are within the video length we recommended above, you should be fine. For an in depth guide on the ins and outs of adding captions, automatically or by hand, take a look at this video by Alan Spicer.
If you are choosing to forego the YouTube option, or just do not have time to deal with adding the closed captions yourself, there are several businesses ready to help. For example, Rev.com will accurately add closed captions to your video files for one dollar per minute, and they will often deliver the final product to you within twenty four hours. Rev is a great way to add subtitles to your video quickly and easily.
Now let’s get your video to the public!
Where to share it
Two popular platforms for video sharing are YouTube and Vimeo. Both can be used to track views and likes for your video, and they both allow you to copy and paste simple codes to embed your video in other websites. Neither offers long-term preservation, so we recommend that you back-up your video abstract by uploading it to AUrora where you can link out to the content on YouTube or Vimeo.
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 the freely-accessible copy that you uploaded to AUrora, if it’s been published in a toll-access journal).
Now that your video is online, let’s get it some viewers!
Some good places to share your video on the Web include:
The biggest limitation for this week’s activity has to be the time required. You’ll have to put in a lot of work to create a short five minute video. However, it will be worth it. A video abstract highlights your research like nothing else. If you are still uncertain about using editing software, try searching for tutorials for your specific software on Youtube.
Choose an article you’ve written and make a plan to create a video abstract for it. Budget out time to start building it, and pick out an editing software you are familiar with or seems intuitive if it is all new to you. Once you have your groundwork laid, you can get started with writing your script and shooting it. And once you’ve created it, share it on at least one of the platforms or websites we mention above.