The many benefits of sharing your research through videos (review)

Research projects aim to improve people’s lives, which is why we need to communicate with the public about them. And today, we live in a rapidly changing digital world that allows us to publicize and promote our research at lightning speed.

You can convey your message in different ways. You can write about it in a journal or start a podcast or video channel. Each of these options is a great choice for distributing your work, depending on your skills and what you feel most comfortable with.

However, you are reading this. So you know deep down that video communication is probably a medium you would or should consider choosing. Let us tell you why it’s a good choice.

N°1: You will reinforce your impact. Several factors are important in an academic career, and one is impact. We all want to change the world through our discoveries and make it a better place. But as Shane Huntington said in a recent video interview on the platform we founded, STEMcognito, “research is irrelevant if we can’t communicate it.” Now is the time to increase your scientific impact and promote your work. Video communication allows you to use all three types of media – written, audio and visual – to reinforce your message.

#2: You will increase your citations. The research found that scientific articles with video summaries have about 20% higher citation scores than written publications. As the H-index and citations are some of the – although not necessarily the best – measures of academic impact, it is up to us to share information about our findings. Not all of us are fast readers or have the time to go through all the posts. This is one of the reasons we used to attend conferences before COVID: they delivered science in a friendly atmosphere in an easily digestible format. But with current travel restrictions, conferences have migrated online. This means that your speech, usually delivered to a limited number of conference guests, could just as well be broadcast to thousands of people on an online platform like STEMcognito.

#3: You will increase your chances of receiving funding. Obtaining university funding is an important step on the road to obtaining the career you want and the independence of your research. But with limited resources and thousands of fantastic researchers competing with each other, it can be extremely difficult and demanding. Discussing the impact of your research in a video and attaching it as a hyperlink to your application can help your work stand out. And don’t forget that funders also like their contributions to your career to be clearly communicated. They invest in you and expect certain returns on that investment. Accessible videos with clear metrics can increase impact and recognition for you and your funder, and are a clear way to say thank you to funders.

The most successful funding recipients often use video summaries to showcase their research. A striking example is that of Justin Chalker, a professor at the College of Science and Engineering at Flinders University in Australia. He has won numerous awards, accolades and grants, and he regularly contributes to the popularization of science through videos and television appearances.

#4: You’ll show potential employers who you really are. Recruiters may only spend a few seconds perusing your CV. Also, the number of words you can use to introduce yourself is often limited. But there’s nothing wrong with creating a video to showcase your research, skills, and accomplishments, and then attaching it to your written materials as a hyperlink. Don’t miss an opportunity to talk about what you do. You’re more than a few words on a piece of paper, and people who know how to effectively promote their work are more likely to be hired.

#5: You will engage the audience. Funding for research comes from generous individuals and decision-makers from various organizations and governments. To increase people’s appreciation for research and encourage them to increase their support, we need to make sure they understand why it matters. A well-made video can help them see how vital and extremely expensive research is and how much we value public input. Government officials also need to understand why more public funds should go to science. They’re very busy, but they’re more likely to watch your five-minute video than read your Nature paper.

#6: You will practice your communication skills. These skills are important in all aspects of your life and can be put to use anytime and anywhere. Communicating your research via video will reinforce these skills. As STEM professionals, we often focus on our fields, forgetting that there are people whose lives we want to change. Rather, we should reflect on the importance of our work and explain it to those outside of our fields. Hearing someone’s voice gives a message a personal touch; it fosters trust and provides a solid foundation on which to build. Your voice, guiding people through your discipline via video, can help them see the human side of research. And practicing this way will make it easier for you to talk about your research in almost any situation.

N°7: You will find new collaborators. The world is a global village and the means of digital communication are multiplying, especially in this global pandemic. The conferences will most likely turn into hybrid forums, which means that research and the search for new collaborators will be done mainly online. By posting your profile, you allow potential collaborators to notice you and decide if you are someone they would like to work with. A video format provides various small paraverbal aspects of personal communication that are difficult to deliver in written text, which is one of the reasons it is rapidly becoming a new standard of scholarly engagement. As Alvina Lai, associate professor at University College London, explained in Natureinvesting time in science videos results in tens of thousands of impressions and people reaching out to you for advice.

#8: You will earn the recognition you deserve. You must first recognize the value of your research before others do. When you realize this simple truth, you’ll be ready to put together a video that showcases your work. Sometimes, due to geographic limitations, we communicate our findings at scientific meetings with our colleagues at our institutions. By recording and posting a video, you give thousands of people the chance to see it, recognize your contributions, and notice you as a researcher. Moreover, video recording is free from time and location limitations, and users can access it on demand. Thus, you will not only be seen as an expert in your field, but also as a supporter of STEM accessibility.

#9: You take charge of your career. In academia, it is often thought that recognition will come to us if we perform good experiments and publish quality papers. This perspective is outdated. You have to stand out, go through a flood of digital information and stand out. You have a voice and you should use it. Taking charge of your career by preparing for a video presentation will boost your confidence, increase your relationships, and give any impostor syndrome you may have a well-deserved kick in the gluteus maximus. As founders of STEMcognito, we have personally seen an increase in confidence when preparing and posting the videos we have made. Any doubts we had at first disappeared completely after a few recordings. We also use links to these videos when researching new career opportunities and have received very positive feedback.

No. 10: You will fight against misunderstandings and fake news. How many times have you clicked on a press article announcing a major scientific “advance” only to find when reading it that the results were very preliminary or even debatable? We cannot leave science communication to the media alone, otherwise people’s trust will be lost. People need to know the real facts about our research and that it is difficult and time consuming.

In short, please consider these personal and professional reasons for promoting your video research when starting your next science project. You already know your business. And you’ll talk about it at the next lab meeting. So why not take 20 minutes of your time and record a video so everyone can hear about the work you’ve done? Why not start now?

John C. Dent