Collaborate, Create, Communicate

The Power of Video in Research

Videos and the Internet have revolutionized the way in which an increasing number of scientists are now communicating ideas and the results of their research. Videos can efficiently convey large amounts of information and depict scientific procedures that would otherwise require pages upon pages of written text to achieve the same level of understanding.

Using video to record scientific results is not new, but these days, things couldn’t be easier. Videos can be relatively easy and cheap to make, manipulate, and share with a wide audience on the Internet. Video can also be used to show things that take place over time, in a way that would be almost impossible face-to-face. For example, research that takes place over several months, or even years, can be condensed into a short video clip and shared with other scientists and students across the world, ultimately enabling others to reproduce and/or build on the depicted research.

Video in the CGIAR

The CGIAR is no stranger to using video to raise awareness, document science and share new scientific methodologies that can help build capacity, and generate new applications and innovation.

For example, take the work of several entomologists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Dr. Soroush Parsa and his team have the distinction of being the first scientists in the CGIAR to publish in the world’s only peer-reviewed video journal: Journal of Visual Experiments (JoVE). These innovative scientists produced a 10-minute video demonstrating the procedures for assessing spittlebug resistance in brachiaria grasses and uploaded it onto JoVE for peer-review and publishing. JoVE publishes biological, medical, chemical and physical research experiments as videos, accompanied by instructions and details of possible technical problems.

“The protocol reflects decades of refinement, making it a great model for other breeding efforts,” said Parsa. “We wanted to share it formally – but very intuitively – with a diverse international audience interested in crop improvement.”

The video, which took almost a year to make, was produced by CIAT’s Reynaldo Pareja and supervisor Guillermo Sotelo, neither of whom had prior video production experience. Parsa now has plans to use videos to help train farmers in field sampling techniques, thereby helping to speed up the rate of scientific research.

You can read the news story and also watch a special behind-the-scenes video that shows how Parsa and his team documented their research.

Elsewhere in the CGIAR

The ICT-KM Program’s work with the Adaptation & Mitigation Knowledge Network (AMKN) has resulted in several videos that highlight the plight of people in Africa and India who are adversely affected by a changing climate. These hard-hitting videos have reached more people than any written report ever could.

Over at the Africa Rice Center in Cotonou, Benin, staff have produced videos in close collaboration with researchers, field workers, rice farmers and rice processors that incorporate lessons from participatory learning and action research. Such videos help build human and institutional capacities within the rice sector in Africa.

Other CGIAR videos document water harvesting in Nicaragua (Towards A Blue Revolution); coffee and climate change in Colombia (Two Degrees Up Part One); and the work of AgroSalud to develop bio-fortified crops (Feeding Ambitions), to name just a few. All it takes to find out more about these challenges is a few clicks of a mouse. There’s no wading through lengthy documents, or grappling to understand the focus of the issue, or coping with the difficulties associated with trying to visualize the situation on the ground.

Although the CGIAR abounds with videos documenting the activities of researchers around the globe, there will always be a need for written scientific papers and reports. Still, the ever-reaching power of video can no longer be denied.

We’d love to hear how you have used video to promote your work. Please drop us a line in the box below and let us know what has worked for you.


Photo credit: jaylopez at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/975857