Why Sport and Exercise Psychology researchers should start using video abstracts

My last post focused on how sport and exercise psychology researchers can use blogging and networks such as Twitter or MiniManuscripts to develop an online profile and easily share information. In part of two of this series, I explore video abstracts as a way to share your research and call on journal editors and conference organizers within our field to start including these as part of online supplementary material.

What are video abstracts?

A video abstract is a short summary of your research.  It is used to convey information in an easy to digest manner, helping to make your work more accessible to a wider audience.

Although it is now commonplace in other areas of science, surprisingly video abstracts have yet to take off in sport and exercise psychology.  I  think this is an overlooked opportunity for us as researchers and more generally as field for getting our work noticed and used.  By adopting video abstracts as a dissemination tool, we will have another pathway for creating impact by showing the world the value of our research.

Interested to know more? I have put together advice and examples for anyone who would like to get started on making a video abstract based on experiences we have had creating other types of videos for http://www.bestskills.co.uk as well as information I have found in other areas of research.

Planning your video abstract

My advice is to start by having a plan for what you want to say in the recording.  It is important to get both the content and length of your video abstract right.  As with a written abstract, the video version should be concise and focused on the main idea/take home message of the research.  Ask yourself, what is the novel contribution of your research that can be summed up in a sentence or two?  What are the main implications of this finding for other researchers as well as the users of this research?

Planning a script can help you to make sure that you remember the important points that you want to say without getting of track.  If you don’t want to memorize a script, then NRC Research Press suggest doing a mock interview with the interviewer just outside of the camera’s view. By answering questions about your work, you might feel more at ease and natural in front of the camera.

Another important consideration is what will be seen in the video. At the most basic level, a video abstract involves the researcher appearing in front of the camera and talking about their work.  However, I don’t think this takes full advantage of what video abstracts can do to bring the research to life.  You not only have the opportunity here to tell people about your research, but show it in action.  Keeping in mind the need to protect confidentiality of your participants, you can demonstrate your data collection methods, as well as display the results using graphs/figures.

The possibilities are really endless, but a few examples can help explain what I mean.  Here is one on early-life risk factors for cardiometabolic disease that effectively combines different researchers appearing in front of the camera with images and footage relevant to the review.  With a bit of imagination and time, you can also use creative and visual ways to convey your research, such as this one on a 3D map of the human genome.

As for its duration, journal editors in other areas advise video abstracts should be 3-5 minutes in length, which is probably a good rule of thumb to follow in sport and exercise psychology.  It is also a good idea to provide a word-for-word transcript of your abstract, which can appear in the description of the YouTube video.

In sum, my top tips are:

  • Plan your video abstract by writing a script
  • Use images and footage to bring the video the life
  • Keep it focused on the main take home message of your research
  • Make it 5 minutes or less
  • Provide a word-for-word transcript of your video abstract

How to get your video abstract online. Until more sport and exercise psychology journals begin to offer video abstracts as online supplementary materials, it will be likely down to you to host and promote the abstract.  However, it is probably a good idea to first check with the Editor that a video abstract would not infringe on the journal’s copyright rules and also consider when it would be the most appropriate time for the information to be made public (e.g., after the manuscript has been published).

No specialized recording equipment is needed.  A smart phone, tablet, or a webcam can be used to film the clips and there are plenty of free aps/software such as Youtube Capture or Cute Cut if you feel the need to do some editing.

To have good sound quality, you might want to then invest in a clip-on microphone such as this one readily available from amazon.  For those using a smartphone or tablet, you will also want some kind of mount or stabiliser to keep it in place for the filming.  The Scientist Videographer offers lots of great advice for those wanting to film entirely using a smartphone.

From what I can tell, most academics use Youtube as a free way to get their videos online.  You can do this by recording directly onto the site and use Youtube Capture to make edits such as removing the uhms and ahhs of regular speech.  Alternatively, you can record the video separately, edit it with the software of your choice, and then upload to Youtube or an another platform such as Vimeo.  Wiley publishers provides a helpful overview on their blog on both of these options.

Finally, once your video abstract  is made, you will want to share the link using your social networks and any other routes available to you.

The 5 simple steps to getting your abstract online:

  1. Choose your platform for hosting your video
  2. Record
  3. Edit
  4. Upload
  5. Promote via your social networks

Have you made a video abstract? Feel free to provide a link to your video abstract and/or tell me what you think about using these in our field by leaving a comment!

About the author: I am a Chartered Psychologist and a Senior lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Birmingham (UK). The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.


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