Capturing impact, Maximising reach

Stephan Caspar
4 min readDec 22, 2017


Creating a video abstract with The Royal Marsden

Digital Abstracts for Impact in Applied Health Research.

Cathy Sandsund1, 2, Stephan Caspar2, Clare Shaw1, Justin Roe1, 3, 4


The adoption of new technology to produce digital abstract has provided opportunities and affordances that challenge pre-conceptions around the form and content of the traditionally published abstract. Researchers need to consider audiences, accessibility, and the skills required to produce engaging and effective content to support their work.


Reporting research findings through publication can be a lengthy process from manuscript submission, through the review process and conversion to final publication. While this remains an important part of the research dissemination process, researchers are turning to digital options to augment and enhance the process. Digital dissemination has gathered pace in recent years with researchers actively sharing details of their research and findings through online services, including Twitter, Facebook, ResearchGate, and There is sometimes a tension between old school publishing and the affordances of a new digital era, however, researchers who are exploring digital platforms and creating media to support their work are finding increased opportunities to engage with their audiences and new ways to tell their stories.

Digital abstract offers rapid dissemination of research findings from clinical practice, ensuring the immediate impact of work in a rapidly changing healthcare setting. Work can be disseminated across the web, reaching a global research community in an open and accessible way. The ethical considerations in the delay of publication need to be addressed, researchers have an obligation to share their work at the earliest opportunity. A challenge for researchers is in making the change from written word to digital form, gain confidence in the use of visual language and adjustment of tone. Digital work requires the development of a skillset, even in collaboration with specialist technical colleagues, researchers need to be able to speak to the camera, illustrate their work through the use of visual metaphor and identify the key stories in their work.

Digital work challenges conceptions of form, whilst we are used to the written word, published in journals and conference materials, video abstract provides opportunities to include patients, participants, and colleagues able to contextualize the work effectively. In this way, minorities gain voices and identities emerge beyond the written word. Communities of practice find each other and connections are established. Effective digital work shows rather than tells. It requires a reading of body language and emotion to support content and finding.

Improvements in Healthcare literacy. Informed and active patients do better.


There are many key steps to ensure an effective digital abstract, and this lies in good preparation, seeking appropriate permissions, and involving participants at an early stage. A script or similar prompt of key abstract details, thinking creatively of the most effective way to visualize and illustrate concepts and findings. In some cases, this might be best represented by a straightforward piece to camera or closer to a short documentary, dependent on appropriateness of subject matter, considerations around access, time, and cost.

Researchers may choose to engage specialist broadcast professionals or use their mobile device, the important consideration should be to the confidence of ensuring consistent production values, ensuring clear image, choice of framing, choice of location, audio quality, lighting, and use of color. Important considerations should be made to the need to tell a story through a sequence of shots and edit them together in a way that is effective and engaging.

Choices made in the edit determine the importance of key visual indicators and emphasis on elements of content. The editor will need to cut with the reality of what has been shot and to a certain extent, the script or preparatory notes will need to be set aside. There are many channels for work to be disseminated, some are more suited to public engagement, institutional websites, and even opportunities with established publishers to host digital content.


Digital Abstract offers an opportunity to provide context and understanding around research projects, ahead of conferences a video can be used in flipped-delivery, ensuring deeper questioning and an enhanced level of engagement with audiences. It reflects a change in the way we communicate, search, and absorb information and data. This is an opportunity afforded by advances in technology and increased access to the tools and resources required to create digital work. Researchers need to gain confidence with this technology to better harness the affordances of this work.

REFERENCES 2017. No page title. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2017].

Using video abstracts to promote readership | Wiley. 2017. Using video abstracts to promote readership | Wiley. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2017].


1The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust 2University of Southampton 3Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust 4Imperial College London



Stephan Caspar

Rides bikes, speaks French, designs things, thrashes axe, paints shed, films, teaches and learns.