Ava's quest

Meet Ava. She is a postdoc who is passionate about her research: the stress factors that affect whales. She is the main character in a story about how to create a video abstract. A story that we will weave through this course as you explore ways to develop your own video abstract.

Video abstracts have been in use since about the end of the noughties. The genre offers an attractive possibility to not only enrich written research with other media, but to also reach a broader audience and communicate research results using different channels. However, as the guidelines of various scholarly journals accepting video abstracts show, the genre is by no means uniform.

The broad range of styles and formats is typical for a relatively new genre of media. In the context of scientific publication, however, this range is striking. Most scholarly articles are quite standardised – they incorporate structures of argument specific to their focus area. Obviously, this helps us compare results. As academic text endeavours to convey objectivity, it often uses passive voice and nominalisation, for instance. In many video abstracts, on the other hand, researchers choose a more personal tone to introduce their studies. Some guidelines encourage authors to be authentic and convey what, for them, is special about the results.

The scope of possible forms of video abstracts is both a boon and a bane. It is a blessing, since precisely such liberty of expression facilitates communication of research in new ways that make topics heard and understood. It is a challenge, because we often respond to liberty of expression by following old patterns. Thus, some video abstracts take a very similar route as written abstracts and do not fully use the opportunities that audio-visual media offers.

Ava is a fictional person. However, the article and abstract on which she bases her video abstract are not. We thank Professor Dr Patricia Holm for providing us with both the article and written abstract and for agreeing that we use them in this course for training purposes . After having watched the video, you may read the article (including the written abstract) here.

Try to answer the three questions at the end of the video above for yourself.

Deepen your understanding

Would you like to familiarise yourself with existing video abstracts and get a clearer picture of the format? Then we suggest you analyse a few video abstracts in exercise 5.2 and document your findings.


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