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Trying to find useful things to do with emerging technologies in open education

Should Academic Journal Papers Have Video Trailers?

I don’t read academic journal papers very much any more, partly because folk rarely link to them, but today I read a paper (“Narrative Visualization: Telling Stories with Data”, Edward Segel, Jeffrey Heer, IEEE Trans. Visualization & Comp. Graphics (Proc. InfoVis), 2010) in response to this video trail that brought it to my attention (Journalism in the Age of Data, Ch. 3: Telling “Data Stories”):

I encourage you to watch the video – not necessarily for what it’s about, but for the way that a journal article is used to hold bits of the video together. Note that the video is not just about the paper, but it’s not hard to see how a video could be made that was just about the paper…

new way of discovering journals?

So I wonder: should we be making voiced over “papercasts” of academic papers to provide a quick summary of what they contain, and maybe also enriching them with photos and footage relating to what the content of the paper is about? (I know this might not make sense for the subject matter of every paper, but if a journal paper is about a particular online tool, for example, here would be an opportunity to show a few seconds of the tool in use, and contextualise it/demonstrate it a little more interestingly than a single, simple screenshot can convey?)

UPDATE: @der_no tweets: “Always enjoyed technical papers preview @ #SIGGRAPH (esp considering many of actual papers are beyond me)” See an example conference papers trailer here – SIGGRAPH 2010 : Technical Papers Trailer:

If the conference matter is appropriate (robotics related conferences come to my mind, for example), couldn’t this sort of approach provide an additional legacy resource that can continue to give an event life after the fact?

PS I believe that several of the OpenLearn folk are also looking at ways of pulling together video and audio in the way they package their material, for example looking at the use of Xtranormal videos, or Slideshare slidecasts. (Note that it’s easy (or used to be!) to publish Xtranormal clips into Youtube, and Youtube clips can also be embedded in Slideshare presentations, so all manner of fusions of content become possible!)

PPS Very, very loosely related to the above is another thread I want to link in to, here. That is, the extent to which academics might take up various sorts of (“new”) media training to explore different ways of engaging with (and maybe helping reinvent?) scientific communication. For example, a recent initiative in the OU has seen more than a few brave academic volunteers engaging in podcast training as part of Martin’s Podstars project (I couldn’t find a better link?!).

Running parallel to this, the OBU’s media training team have been helping other academics put together short showreels that have since been published on the OU podcast site – OU Experts:

OU academic experts

In terms of finding training materials that are already out there, it struck me that the BBC College of Journalism might be a good start, particularly in the skills area?

Written by Tony Hirst

November 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm

3 Responses

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  1. … and following the logic, maybe Academic Papers should have LOLCats ;-)

    Thanks for the videos, it is really timely. I’m working on something similar for a group of grant project awardees, and we are trying to introduce storytelling ideas and web tools into what may be something like 50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell Stories about Projects.

    Alan Levine

    November 25, 2010 at 4:57 am

    • It was a noticing, I guess… Though in the sense of noticing something a little out of the ordinary and then wondering what it would mean if it was an everyday thing…

      As to LOLCats, why shouldn’t papers have 10 word straplines?;-)

      Tony Hirst

      November 25, 2010 at 9:47 am

  2. A few months ago I met a young BBC meteorologist who at university had had the idea to produce video abstracts of academic research. He had pitched the idea (for a piece of published deep sea research), though I can’t remember now to whom.

    The pitch was unsuccessful, but he did create a video for his own thesis. Minus the rather intrusive dance-trance music background (it was a college piece), it is a useful proof of concept (not sure if I can post the link here, as it is not published as such).

    I thought it was a fantastic idea, having become interested in ways of demystifying and presenting science to a wider audience. I very much hope academic publishing moves in this direction…

    Freelance Unbound

    November 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm


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