Let’s make ‘supplementary’ peer-review scientific videos free and youtubish!

In the last post on “supporting information” section I claimed that the problematic status of supporting information comes from the heterogeneity of its data, on the one hand genuine online multimedial files, on the other hand “paperlike” data. Big differences also occur concerning the importance of the data. The source of the heterogeneity is the traditional, offline, peer-review article format, which is not able to embrace multimedia files, videos, audios, big resolution pictures.

wangmovIf you are working in a field, like cell and molecular biology, you are probably a heavyweight user of various imaging methods like laser scanning confocal microscopy, deconvolution microscopy or just lean on normal fluorescence microscopy. Increasingly you are involved in the making of gigabyte sized time lapse videos on living cells or 3D imaging visualizations made by special software, illustrating the biological phenomenon, pattern or effect you are publishing an article on. So scientific videos are more and more important part of scientific arguments in the life sciences.

But these videos can only be published online, under the humiliating title “supplementary information” since offline it iszhuetal not possible to include videos in every Nature volume (although theorethically some thin film paper ultraexpensive technology can do that in the future). Examples of 3D visualizations are Wang et al.: Endothelial cells derived from human embryonic stem cells form durable blood vessels in vivo in Nature Biotechnology (see left), and Zhu et al.:Spatiotemporal control of spindle midzone formation by PRC1 in human cells, PNAS (see right).

So here ‘d like to suggest for researchers who are making videos and upload it, the powerful editors of peer-review journals, coders, geeks in the uprising web video market to meditate on the possibility of liberating the so called supplementary science videos of peer-review articles and give some light to them by making them freely available and distributable on the web! What about a strict, searchable scientific video sharing site?

Points of persuasion:

1. the web is the natural home of multimedia files of scientific studies, not the published journal articles, so why not make available them in an open access style?

2. there must be some working creative commons like license construction referring to just multimedia parts of the supporting information section, not the whole article, which is good for the Publishing Groups, does not hurt their interests, but does enormous good for individual researchers, searching information outside their academic institutions for the public (if you heard of any type of license like this, please inform me, I am ignorant in this respect)

3. videos, 3D animations are convincing, sometimes crucial forces of scientific arguments in life sciences, so what about a free abstract+supporting information construction?

4. from a presentation point of view, videos are really spectacular and the liberation of science videos can do much for popularizing science worldwebwide

5. imagine a youtube-like video site collecting these videos and make them available for every web user

6. timing: the current web is dominantly about videos and video sharing

What I have in mind here, is a JoVE like website, serving as an ideal host of peer-review scientific videos, animations, audios….

The closest relative is BioMed Search, a Google-like Biomedical Image Search Engine which is currently unavailable due to some problems.

Update: Maxine Clarke, Publishing Executive Editor of Nature and blogger of Peer-to-Peer on the problem of “supporting information” and in the idea of an open access, peer-review supporting information aggregator website:
Nature Publishing Editor on the idea of a public scientific multimedia site