Research Article

Exploring Video Abstracts in Science Journals: An Overview and Case Study



INTRODUCTION The video abstract has emerged in recent years as a new way of communicating the results of scholarly enquiry. For library-based journal publishers who want to support multimodal scholarship, it is useful to understand the potential benefit and impact of incorporating video abstracts into their publications. This paper provides an overview of the growth of video abstracts in science scholarship, and presents a single journal case study that compares the use and potential impact of video abstracts hosted on both YouTube and on a journal’s own website. METHODS For the case study, video abstract usage data for the New Journal of Physics (NJP) was gathered from both YouTube and the NJP native platform and then correlated using a Spearman rank correlation coefficient test to analyze viewing usage. Viewership data from both platforms was also correlated with article usage counts using Spearman to study the relationship between article usage and corresponding video abstract usage. RESULTS Users predominantly accessed the journal’s hosted video abstracts instead of the abstracts posted on YouTube. However, there was a moderate positive correlation comparing view counts of the same video abstracts across both platforms, suggesting proportionate use of both platforms. In addition, the top 25 and 100 read articles had a significantly higher presence of video abstracts than articles overall in the data set, although a specific reason for that relationship cannot be identified. DISCUSSION & CONCLUSION Video abstracts are a natural evolution of science communication into multimodal environments. Publishing trends will likely continue to grow gradually, with appreciation for non-traditional scholarship (multimodal scholarship) and new measures for assessing impact (altmetrics) potentially encouraging greater adoption. Librarybased journal publishers should consider investing in software that offers dynamic media integration, offering the video abstract option to their authors, and leveraging YouTube to further raise the visibility of their authors’ research articles and publication. Library-based publishers should have some expectation that the video abstracts will be viewed relatively proportionally across platforms (i.e. a video abstract that receives a higher or lower view count on the journal’s website is moderately more likely to also receive a higher or lower view count on YouTube), with the majority of total views (for all videos) coming from the journal’s website. Subject and media librarians should become more aware of these emerging practices to support the video abstract publication and creation needs of their research communities.


How to Cite: Spicer, S. (2014) “Exploring Video Abstracts in Science Journals: An Overview and Case Study”, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. 2(2). doi: