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Video Abstract Part 2: Techniques, Do’s and Don’ts

Learn how to make outstanding video abstracts to highlight and fund your research.

(This is the second part in a two part series of how to use video abstract)

While in Part 1 I described the essential items that should be present in your science video, in Part 2 I will teach you the do’s, don’ts and the technologies available for you to make a professional-looking video abstract.

Beyond enhancing user experience, video abstracts can reach out to the general public and the media, promoting your research outside the scientific community. Video abstracts can also be considered a project deliverable that increases public outreach, a criterion required by some funding agencies (e.g., the U.S. National Science Foundation). As an early career researcher (ECR), learning to promote your research through videos may secure funding and increase collaborations. 

We all know how busy we are as ECRs, and the good news is that you do not need to be a high-tech expert to get your video out there. Current technology offers resources for all kinds of budget and equipment. So all you need is a good story and that you already got on your paper.

This article will teach the many techniques available to do your own video abstract and make your research stand out.

Techniques to create a video abstract 

  • Whiteboard explainer: if you have drawing skills, get a whiteboard, colour markers, and a camera (your smartphone or tablet might be enough). This method is cost-effective and can be an excellent way to explain your research clearly and engagingly. Be aware of light reflections and record the voiceover separately.
  • Animated whiteboard: you can create this using simple free software versions, such as SimpleShow and RawShorts. The result is visually more appealing and engaging. Still, keep it straightforward. Remember that the video aims to give only a general overview of your study, keeping the audience hooked.
  • Motion graphics: this method requires a little bit more experience and creates movement to the animated whiteboard. You can use Adobe After Effects or Blender to bring your drawings to life, making your story more dynamic. Be careful not to clutter your animation with too many images and movement. 
  • PowerPoint slide presentation: this one might be more familiar to you. All you need is to make a slide set of your paper and add the narrative to it. Keep it practical and engaging. Make sure you keep clear and helpful imagery accompanied by a narrative rather than listing data and findings. 
  • Author talk: talking directly to your audience requires being comfortable with the camera. Combining visual elements – PowerPoint slides, animated images, and whiteboard drawings – can make it more engaging. If you choose to do a self-recording talking video, try to be in an inspiring room – like a laboratory or a nice lecture hall – and be aware of background noise.

The do’s and don’ts of every video abstract

Do’s Make your video dynamic by combining different approaches, such as whiteboard animation with the author talking in a busy lab. Tell your journey by sharing why you do what you do and why it is significant.Add written short critical points to your video since many of your viewers may watch it without sound.Don’ts Do not read a script when speaking. Avoid sounding robotic and amateur.Do not use technical and complicated language, especially when talking directly to the camera.Jargon, slang, long words should not be used, and the word count on the screen should not exceed 15 words at a time.

 Make your research memorable

Science communication impacts public opinion and drives change. Early career researchers have the opportunity to provide greater access to peer-reviewed research by promoting their work beyond complex scientific articles. Plus, communicating your research to the public increases funding opportunities early in your career. 

If you would like to give it a go and learn more about promoting your science through videos, join the STEMcognito video competition. It is free of charge 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 science video. 




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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