Image: Example of Research Square Video Byte

According to the 2015 STM Report, the number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals is growing each year by 3–3.5%, with journals collectively publishing about 1.9 million articles a year. That’s a lot of new research!

The rise in new journal articles compounded with the ongoing transition to online publishing and discovery methods has many implications for publishers and researchers. As scholarship is produced at more rapid rates, researchers have to work harder to make their articles stand out to readers, funders, and other stakeholders. In order to do this, some are using multimedia to promote their latest research in more engaging ways online.

In recent years, the use of video abstracts has emerged as a way to dynamically convey key research methods and findings. Now, Research Square has introduced a new way for scholars to promote their work via video called Video Bytes. Video Bytes are 1-minute overviews of scholarly works focused on the societal impacts of the research. The videos are geared towards a broad scientifically-literate audience.

In the interview below Michele Avissar-Whiting, video operations manager at Research Square, discusses the new Video Bytes and how researchers are using video to make their articles more visible online and accessible to wider audiences.

Q&A with Michele Avissar-Whiting

Can you briefly explain Research Square Video Bytes for those unfamiliar?

MA: Video Bytes are 1-minute videos consisting of a short summary of an article’s most important points overlaid on images and footage with musical accompaniment. While the content is largely supplied by the author, the text is written to be stylistically engaging and oriented toward a broad interested audience. The result is a concise but informative and exciting video that is perfectly suited for sharing via social media and/or embedding in a blog, press release, or professional website.

How do Video Bytes differ from video abstracts?

MA: The video abstract has been very successful as a tool for authors to communicate their work with a scientific audience - particularly in the same or a closely related field. It has functioned for many authors as a vehicle for self promotion among funders and administrators. But we wanted to offer authors a product more suitable for outreach - communication with as broad an audience as the author would like to reach. The format of the Video Byte and level of discourse of its text makes it a perfect outreach medium. And, because the story is heavily author driven and the product does not involve expensive custom animation or narration, it is also significantly less costly making it accessible to virtually any author.

What are the benefits of Video Bytes for researchers?

MA: We hope the benefits largely mirror those of Video Abstracts: communication, exposure, and novelty. Both products offer unique, engaging content that can be shared via social media or with news outlets as an accompaniment to a press release. Many authors do not have access to the resources needed for high-quality scientific communication - critical for securing funding, elevating ones academic profile, and attaining societal awareness.

Can Video Bytes help enhance article discoverability and sharing?

MA: While we don’t have data yet pertaining directly to Video Bytes, we do know that Research Square Video Abstracts have improved article level metrics such as article accesses and Altmetric Attention Score robustly. A recent analysis on nearly 100 articles with our Video Abstracts demonstrated that their Altmetric scores are 140% higher and they are accessed with 80% greater frequency than similar articles without videos.

In what ways do you think video and multimedia content is already changing how research is presented and discovered? What are your thoughts for the future?

MA: A handful of institutions and publishers seem to be leveraging their resources to communicate science to the masses using multimedia, and I’ve been really pleased to see such a robust mainstream response. Moving this responsibility to individual authors will be a process with gradual adoption, but it seems to be an inevitability for researcher success, as outreach is critical for funding and a boon to career advancement. We are delighted to be supporting authors in this effort.

Why do you think it’s important for researchers to utilize video and multimedia to communicate their work?

MA: It’s predicted that by 2018, video will account for three-quarters of all web traffic. It has been shown to increase engagement dramatically on virtually every platform, and it is clearly the future of content marketing. The publication industry has been notoriously slower to adopt new and emerging technologies, and I believe this one is no exception. But, with mounting pressure from authors who increasingly see its value, it is happening.

In my view, any sort of scientific communication is valuable, but the advantages of video are myriad. The visual nature makes it easier for a non-native speaker to grasp, imagery and music is powerful and introduces an emotive human component that is largely missing from text alone - especially scientific or technical text. Writing about perovskites can be dry, but pairing that text with images pertaining to improved solar cell efficiency and what renewables mean for the future of humanity – that’s powerful stuff!