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A YouTube for Scientists


Sorry, we couldn't resist the title, but we also realise the irony given the general failure of the attempts to build a "facebook for Scientists". But scientists dont necessarily need a facebook, they have facebook. So why would scientists need a YouTube?

Researchers do use YouTube to publish their results and increase awareness about their research, examples can be seen here, here and here.

The media like videos too, as can be seen with this great clip showing a natural killer T-cell attacking disease cell on video, published on the Nature Medicine YouTube Channel.

This video is taken from an article in PLoS Biology. Or rather, is downloadable from the supplementary materials of said article.

If it was easy to cite these videos in a manner by which all authors receive credit, we wouldn't have an issue. I first came across this problem when trying to cite a video in my thesis, in which I wanted to show mesenchymal stem cells proliferating and not migrating. This is quite a difficult idea to quantify in text.

So figshare allows researchers to easily upload video (and other media forms) of their research, so that it is easily searchable, citable and sharable. Researchers can add as much context as they wish, and all authors will have a profile page with links to all of their research objects, including videos, on figshare.

All videos have view counts, share buttons, embed functionality as well as QR codes. For those not familiar with QR codes, they act as a bar code which links directly to a webpage when scanned with a phone or tablet app. By adding these in addition to a standard link to the page when citing a video on figshare, the videos can be easily viewed even when the reader only has a paper copy of the article.

The potential to enhance research publication in this way was highlighted in May 2011, when Cell Press published their journal with an interactive cover.

"On the cover: Where's the cover image? In this issue, Cell experiments with the use of Quick Response (QR) barcodes to create more interactive PDFs. We kick off the issue with a barcode linking to Cell's first animated cover. To view the cover, download a barcode reader for your smartphone or tablet (e.g., i-nigma for iPhones and Androids) and then snap a picture of the cover. The app will link to an animated movie on the web. Can you find the 16 other QR barcodes in this issue?The hidden animation on the cover shows circulating erythrocytes with two cells infected by malaria parasites from the genus Plasmodium. Intracellular parasites acquire nutrients via the plasmodial surface anion channel (PSAC) on the host membrane."

You may have heard about similar efforts that already exist. Scivee has been around for a few years now. It seems to be focussed on researchers explaining and promoting their research, as well as teaching materials.

JoVE publishes videos of experimental procedures and protocols on in the biological and life sciences. The videos are citable and act as a fantastic resource for researchers. However, it only covers methods of research, as opposed to raw research findings.

figshare offers researchers to easily share their research videos to improve the transparency of their research. figshare also allows users to upload their figures, datasets and any other research outputs they may have.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this and any ways in which we can make this service more useful to you. You can either comment below, email us at or via twitter, facebook or google+.

Comments (6)

  • I am working on a tool that scans the Open Access subset of PubMed Central for audio and video files in the supplement of CC BY-licensed articles and uploads them to WikiMedia Commons. As an add-on, we are thinking of uploading the videos to YouTube too, and I would be delighted to collaborate on that. Another add-on could be a plugin for files from Figshare. The latest blog post is at .

    04/04/2012 01:54    by Daniel Mietchen

  • BTW, having some instructions on what HTML tags are permitted would be helpful, as would be a preview option for comments. I would have certainly liked to see the link in the above comment being highlighted as a link.
    Also, line breaks shouldn't break.

    04/04/2012 01:57    by Daniel Mietchen

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