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Video Abstract Part 1: The 6 Essential Tips to Do it Right

Know how to create compelling video abstracts to support and promote your research.

Video abstracts are the latest trend in scientific publishing and an important feature for early career researchers (ECR) to promote their science. Additionally, video abstracts can be considered a project deliverable that increases public outreach, a criterion required by some funding agencies (e.g., the U.S. National Science Foundation). Taking advantage of this new trend can increase visibility and funding opportunities for ECR.

Video abstracts enhance user experience and give you room to be creative, telling the story behind the science in a visual, engaging, and informal way. Moreover, a research video can reach out to people from different professional backgrounds, be their researchers from other fields, journalists, or the general public. 

This article is divided into two parts. The first part will teach how to take advantage of this new feature and make your research video stand out.  

The 6 essential tips to make a compelling video abstract

The following six tips will give a professional feeling to your video no matter what technology you use to create it.

1.    Define your video length: 

“Try and tell your story in a maximum of three minutes. Then, use the first seven seconds of your video to hook the attention of your viewer,” Dr Shahab Nahrevanian, a science video producer specialist, explains. Your video should be short and appealing for your audience to reach the end. 

2.    Create an abstract that flows: 

Everybody likes a good story, and every good story has a flow. Start with an image, a curious fact, or a question. State your purpose and use storytelling techniques to tell viewers how one outcome led to another. Describe your goal and narrate the key findings as they happened. 

3.    Know the technical needs: 

Sound quality is essential, so record the voiceover separately. Use a proper microphone (even a low-budget one works) in a quiet room to avoid background noise. Know what you want to say and narrate ideas instead of listing facts. Keep your images simple, clear, and effective. Never clutter. Less is always more.

4.    Use Call to Action phrases

Known as CTA, these phrases guide your viewer to the action you want them to take. A CTA starts with an action word – read, download, check, contact – followed by what is in it for your audience from taking this action. CTA drives viewers to get to know more about your work.

5.    Guarantee accessibility: 

Use preferably mp4. But .mov, .mpg, or .avi, are also widely used. Some journals may wish to share your video on social media. Depending on the copyright terms, you can also share it on your own channels, including YouTube. So check all your options and journal requirements before defining your video format.

6.    Reach out to the audience:

The language you use determines the audience you reach. Expand your viewers by using simple language. Avoid jargon and detailed statistics. Instead, use comparisons and examples. Linking what you do in the lab to daily life adds value to your research. If you can explain it to your non-scientists friends, you got it right. 

Video abstracts make your research memorable

The use of videos in scientific communication is critical and has become more popular in the last decade. As an early career researcher, it is essential to keep up with the new trends in scientific publishing and use them in your favour. Plus, everybody benefits from having greater access to peer-reviewed science.

Are you ready to promote your research beyond your lab? You can start by joining the STEMcognito video competition. It is free and can be a great science outreach experience and project deliverable. 

If you do not know where to start, get professional support to make an impactful and engaging video abstract. Professional science communicators can undoubtedly help make your video stand out.

In Part 2 of video abstracts I will share the do´s & don’ts, and the technology available to create a great video about your research. 

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

About the Author
  • Thais Langer

    Thais Langer is a versatile science communicator with a varied and international academic experience. Born and raised in Brazil, she did her B.Sci from RMIT, Australia, her M.Sci from Umeå University, Sweden, and her PhD from Hannover Medical School, Germany. After a decade working as a biomedical scientist in the field of Immunology and Oncology, she created Science Writer Space, offering scientific consultancy, medical & science communications services. Thais specializes in transforming complex scientific data into useful information to a diverse audience. Her work focuses on bringing together research, industry and society. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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