Today I watched a summary of a scientific paper.
Yes, that’s right; I watched it.
It’s probably obvious that this is not the normal method for sharing cutting edge science. Most scientists do their research, perform analysis and interpretation of the results, and then submit it to a relevant journal. If a panel of experts in their field (often referred to as peers) find the results and conclusions reasonable and well-argued, the paper is published and available to the broader scientific community. Usually, these are written documents supported by images and graphs, with a summary at the start referred to as an abstract.
This paper was different.
For a start, the subject matter is extreme: White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) Scavenging on Whales and Its Potential Role in Further Shaping the Ecology of an Apex Predator. It’s freely available if you want to check out the full article.
If you don’t have the time or inclination, then perhaps the visual abstract will suffice.
The visual abstract is a video presentation, comprised of images – not all moving ones, don’t panic – and an aural summary of the paper’s main findings. The main points are clearly made, and emphasised with text and simple diagrams.
I simply loved it; needless to say I made my family watch it too. Perhaps they weren’t quite as passionate as me, but still made sense of the data.
The presentation was put together by the R.J.Dunlop Marine Conservation Program, whose mission is:
“to advance ocean conservation and scientific literacy by conducting cutting edge scientific research and providing innovative and meaningful outreach opportunities for students through exhilarating hands-on research and virtual learning experiences in marine biology”.
[image thanks to James Mostert on flickr]