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This week, I wanted to draw your attention to an article in University Affairs that looks at the “video abstract”.

“We see younger researchers using video abstracts to scan literature quickly,” explains Cameron Macdonald, executive director of the Ottawa-based publisher Canadian Science Publishing (formerly NRC Research Press). The press has launched a video abstract option for authors who are publishing in its 15 journals.

If you read my post about graphical abstracts, you can probably guess where I stand on this issue: if you’re going to make a video abstract, make sure it doesn’t look like a poorly-dubbed high school science project.


Here’s an example of a researcher reading a script from a screen in front of a webcam.  It’s generally not engaging, there’s a humming in the background, the lighting is poor, the video is cropped, and it’s obvious she’s reading.


Here’s a good example – it’s produced by the university, the researcher is wearing a mic (on her right lapel), and is actually engaging with the audience rather than reading.

I should note that I took both of these from Canadian Science Publishing’s website.

These videos can be great promotional tools for universities and labs, but like graphical abstracts (and websites, which I argued years ago in University Affairs), you’ve got to spend the time to make them look professional.