10 Tips for Making a Great Research Video

Namrata Sengupta, Ph.D.
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Scientists! If you are gearing up to make a short video on your research for the JoVE Film Your Research Contest, then here are some tips from the JoVE Team which can help you plan and produce the video.

JoVE is organizing our first ever Film Your Research contest for early career researchers worldwide. We’re inviting scientists to make a two-minute video of their research: showcasing specific experimental methods that they use in their labs or field. The video should also address a big picture application of the specific research in the real world. Four lucky winners will be awarded up to $3,000 in cash awards!


This is an opportunity for scientists to showcase to a global audience “real science” from “real labs and field stations” around the world. Here are some valuable tips for creating an impactful research video.

1. Know your audience

Be sure to avoid acronyms and keep your explanations short. Your video will be widely shared with a wide variety of audiences, including people outside your field. Many of them may not even be from a scientific field.

2. Get permission from professors and department

It is very important to get your Principal Investigator/advisor’s permission before you start making this video. Clarify with them that your video is not a representation of your detailed findings. Rather, the video should highlight your research question, the research method/process, and its significance or potential impact.

3. Watch other videos: do the homework

We highly recommend watching some of the following videos from JoVE that highlight research methods, but also convey a big picture relevance and applications. 


February 2017: This Month in JoVE A short compilation of videos from the fields of Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Neuroscience.

March 2017: This Month in JoVE A short compilation of videos from the fields of Developmental Biology, Bioengineering, Psychology, and Medicine.

June 2016: This Month in JoVE A short compilation of videos from the fields of Chemistry, Engineering, Developmental Biology, and Environment.

4. Storyboard/Write a script

Writing a brief script (laying out your plans) before you start filming will give you much more clarity and help you make a better video. Use your storyboard or script as the step-by-step plan for delivering your message and getting the best shots of your experiment and research.

5. Choose an audio style

This will be key to delivering your message. Choosing an audio style will lead you towards choosing a storytelling style. Here are some options:

a)  Voiceover (first person narration)

b)   Interview style communication facing the camera

c)  Journalistic/reporter style delivery (following the experiment-in-progress and talking “live” into the camera)

You can also choose to use just text and background music to convey your message instead of one of the above approaches.


6. Video making tools

Choose a video filming tool based on your budget, what’s available, and what’s accessible. Your options may include DSLR camera, GoPro, Flip Ultra HD Video camera, or a modern smartphone. Most smartphones nowadays have a pretty good built-in camera, microphone, and are compatible with video-editing apps. However, consider using a tripod if you need to film an experiment (without shaky hands) from a certain distance or height.


7. Ask your library and media relations office for help with tools

Most academic institutions have a media relations office and an academic library support office. These offices may be able to help you with resources e.g. cameras or editing tools.

8. Post production tools

There are also several free tools available for the editing phase of the film. Four of the most common video editing platforms are Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, YouTube Editor, and Adobe Premier. Dr. Karen McKee, popularly known as “The Scientist Videographer,” offers great tutorials for some of these platforms.


9. Give credit to your core production team

If you use technical support from your lab members, colleagues, or other resources at your institution, it’s important to credit everyone who has assisted you in creating the video.

10. Ready to get started??? 

Your video should not exceed two minutes and your written description should have a maximum of 200 words. Your full application must be submitted by June 15, 2017. Not following these mandatory requirements can lead to disqualification from the contest. Feel free to contact us at scientistaward@jove.com with any further questions!


Other resources:

How to make your science video popular on YouTube – by Sage Publishing

Create Video Abstract – by We Share Science

Shooting Videos for Science – by the American Geophysical Union

How to Turn Your Research Findings into a Video that People Actually Want to Watch – by Project Maya