Better video abstracts, more citations

Are you active in the environmental sciences or involved in communicating their findings? Then you may want to check out the recent study from a Portuguese team of researchers who put so called video abstracts to the test. Miguel Ferreira, a biologistic and science communicator from the University of Coimbra, and his colleagues defined video abstracts as “audio-visual representation[s] of the key findings described in the written abstract” of a scientific paper. 171 clips – published on channels of publishing brands such as Wiley, Springer Nature, AAAS and Cell Press – met their selection criteria. The study, published on February 16, 2021, in Frontiers in Communication, provides “the first characterization of video abstracts in the fields of ecology and environmental sciences,” the authors explain.

Ferreira et al. found that the number of video abstracts increased sevenfold between 2010 and 2018. And they observed that “disruptive formats such as animations are generating the most interest.” Last, but certainly not least: greater interest in the videos leads to an increasing “number of citations per day and altmetric of associated papers.” (Altmetrics measure the impact of research in the social media, on blogs etc.)

An infallible guide to creating a successful video is still a long way off. Even more: video abstracts are far from being easily replicable instances of a well-defined genre. But the message seems to be clear: video abstracts, 2 to 3 minutes long, certainly help to reach your peers (while not necessarily the “broad public”).

Implicitly, the paper also gives an important advice: don’t let amateurs do the film production. “Professional and semiprofessional productions,” it states, “generally result in higher reach of videos and papers.”

Related links:

Ferreira M, Lopes B, Granado A, Freitas H and Loureiro J (2021) Audio-Visual Tools in Science Communication: The Video Abstract in Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Front. Commun. 6:596248. doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2021.596248

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