Guest blog by Steven Inchcoombe, CEO of Nature Publishing Group, and Hazel Newton, Head of Author Services
Today we are introducing an experimental collaboration with independent research communication company Research Square to help authors explain their research to the academic community with audio-visual summaries. This six-week trial is part of Nature Publishing Group’s (NPG) ongoing drive to better understand and meet the needs of our authors and readers. To do this, we regularly refine our services and policies, and pilot new services to gather feedback.
Here we explain the rationale for this experimental collaboration, how the trial will run and what we hope to learn.
What is the problem we are trying to solve?
Quickly grasping the main points and conclusions of a scientific paper can be challenging, particularly when it lies outside one’s field of expertise. The language is often technical and discipline-specific, and deciphering methodologies and techniques from prose can be tricky. Visual representations of the work can help with this.
Expanding the reach of new research can be important to academics, institutions and funders. However, academics have ever greater demands on their time and consume information in a variety of formats and media.
The solution we’re exploring
Nature Publishing Group and Research Square have been considering this challenge for some time as part of our ongoing efforts to better serve the research community and harness our expertise in science communication. We think we can help to alleviate some of the pressure on authors to spend their time translating their results into different formats for audiences broader than their immediate colleagues and others working directly in their field.
Together we have decided to trial an experimental collaborative project to produce audio-visual summaries of selected research papers published in NPG journals, releasing the first of these summaries this week (see below for an example of a summary of a Nature Photonics paper and here for an example of a summary of a Nature Materials paper).
How it will work
For the next six weeks Research Square will produce and release 2-4 minute audio-visual summaries for selected papers from seven Nature research journals.
This is optional for authors, so NPG will gain agreement from the corresponding authors that they would like to participate in the trial. During the production of the summaries, all information about the research will be kept confidential, and the summaries will not be made public until the papers to which they relate are published. At that point, they will be free to view for readers on various NPG and Research Square’s social media channels and wherever else the authors choose to post and share them. The service will be provided free-of-charge to those authors whose papers are involved in this trial.
As this is primarily an author service, the author approves the audio-visual summary, and they also retain the right to post and share it. The audio-visual summaries are not peer-reviewed, subject to editorial approval or published by Nature Publishing Group. Responsibility for the content rests with the author and Research Square.
The papers for this experimental phase are picked by NPG. The Nature editors are consulted from time-to-time and check the AV summary for accuracy.
Throughout the project we’ll be collating and assessing feedback from the authors of the papers, which will help NPG determine whether to offer an optional paid-for service to authors in the future.
We’re interested from hearing from you, too. What do you think of the audio-visual summaries? Is this a service you find helpful as a reader, and would value as an author? How can we make these as useful and informative as possible?
We’ll report back on our findings at the end of the trial, as well as posting the audio-visual summaries on this blog so that if you wish to watch them and provide feedback, you can do so easily.
We don’t yet know what the research community will make of these audio-visual summaries or how they may choose to use them – that’s part of the interest in testing possible services alongside trusted partners, and asking you what you think. But we do know that we’re committed to working with the research community to identify where we can provide support and be responsive to demand and interest.
We hope that this trial will help both researchers to better communicate their work and NPG and Research Square to better understand how we can support global research communication.
About our partnership with Research Square
Nature Publishing Group collaborates with Research Square on several projects and services to better meet the needs of authors. The two organisations share a passion for improving research communication and its power to impact society. Since 2008, NPG has provided NPG Language Editing, supported by Research Square’s American Journal Experts (AJE) brand. The two organizations are independent, collaborating on specific services and initiatives. You can find out more about Research Square here.
Research Square will run a separate and independent trial of audio-visual summaries to test messaging and pricing on their own site for any interested author in parallel to its collaboration with NPG.