New Trend Alert: Using Video to Introduce Data

Here at BenchFly, we’re always looking for new ways to use video to improve scientific research. During a recent conference in Europe, the value of using video to simply introduce a research topic hit home with me.

An exciting part of being a researcher of any level is the opportunity to travel to research conferences held all over the country and the world. However, the tricky part about a conference is that while the audience is typically knowledgeable about the general topic, there are so many contexts in which the specific topic can be covered. Do you work in animals? Cell culture? The immune system? The brain? I can wax poetic about intestinal structure and function, but ask me about the brain and I’m completely useless.

A research presentation usually includes a five-to-ten minute introduction to the organ or model system being used to interrogate the hypothesis. Often, this is composed of various animated cartoons to give the audience a visual aid. For me, a good introduction is always much appreciated, especially if I am unfamiliar with the system being used. If I haven’t followed the introduction well, the remaining presentation is lost on me. Lately, one of the trends I’ve been noticing is presentation of a video introduction in lieu of the cartoon option. I’ve found this approach is much more effective at making the subsequent research story easy to follow.

For example, I recently returned from a conference where a talk began with a beautiful video on how nerves form connections during development. I was left with what it might look like in real life for nerves to grow and innervate muscle—a visual learning experience that probably could not have been achieved with animated cartoons.

The second thing that stands out to me in this regard comes from clinicians who regularly perform procedures relevant to their area of research. At the same meeting, at least two investigators began their presentations with videos of clinical procedures. I was brought into the operating room for a corneal transplant and a bronchoscopy, all from the comfort of my seat. For me, this integration of the clinical experience with basic research gives me a great appreciation of how the results that follow are relevant to disease and potential therapies.

Conferences can be exhausting: eight hours of sitting in the same seat in the dark, furiously scribbling notes for your PI, counting down the minutes until the network reception (Food! Wine!), with breaks for coffee every so often (but not quite often enough). This new trend of video introductions certainly makes presentations more exciting, more memorable, and – most importantly – makes them more understandable to a potentially uninformed audience.


Have you noticed this trend too? Do you appreciate a video introduction? 


Emily PoulinEmily is a fifth year graduate student here to explore firsthand how technology and video can enhance your research experience. As scientists, we are on the cutting edge of new technologies that can take our work to the next level and allow us to find solutions to questions that were previously unanswerable. Let’s make use of the new and shape the future.




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