The Journal of Visual Experiments (JoVE) is a innovative peer reviewed journal which focuses on publishing biomedical research techniques in a video format. First published in 2006, it can boast as being the "first scientific video journal", and in its first five years has published almost a thousand video-articles in the fields of neuroscience, cellular biology, developmental biology, immunology, microbiology, plant biology, bioengineering and medicine. On this page I have listed a couple of video-articles most relevant to my own field (electron microscopy of cells) and written down some information about the cost and advantages of this service.
In its beginnings, the journal was open access and largely free, but due to high production costs they were forced to change their setup such that institutions or individuals must subscribe to see all videos and articles. As of July 2010, subscription costs were:
- $2,400 / year for Ph.D. level institutions
- $1,000 / year for small colleges.
- $100 / year for individuals, although rates of $9 daily, $29 monthly or a 1-day free trial also available.
Scientists wishing to publish videos pay a relatively low cost (~$2,400) to get a video filmed on location, which I believe includes a day of shooting and then JoVE takes care of all the video editing, narration and publication. By default the video will be closed access - which means the video locked after 30 seconds and the main text (the techniques section) is blocked from displaying. To make the video open access (allowing all your collaborators to see it) you must pay an pay extra (~$3,500) ..... although at least one clever labs have used placement marketing (in this case "sigma") to cover the latter cost! (see "Jove - how to sell to scientists")
- Costs shown here were taken from an article by Georgia State University dated July 2010 (see here).
- Electron Cryotomography of Bacterial Cells - from the Jensen lab at CalTech (Los Angeles)- highlights the VERY involved process of cryo imaging bacteria.
- Single Particle Electron Microscopy Reconstruction of the Exosome Complex Using the Random Conical Tilt Method - from a group at Yale (New Haven) highlighting their methods for single particle analysis, which heavily features the use of "Spider". Not quite as relevant to me.
- Preparation of Mouse Brain Tissue for Immunoelectron Microscopy (LOCKED) - a group at the University of Rochester (New York) - shows an example of a video which is NOT open access and thus only the first 30 seconds.
Publishing with JoVE
The main advantage of using JoVE is that, for a relatively small cost (a few thousand US dollars), scientists can use the very powerful and friendly medium of video to communicate quite complex involved techniques in a very cleanly formatted and relatively short video (10-15 minutes). The techniques exhibited in most of these videos are very difficult to explain to visitors - not only are scientist notoriously bad for explaining their work in clear concise terms, but it's unlikely all the instruments are in the same lab, and even less likely all the instruments and/or computer hardware are setup ready to demonstrate their use! Such process can take a scientist days to learn and years to master, but JoVE appears to do a great job of simplifying all these processes into a short video which can be shown to visitors or remote collaborators (via the website) to promote the lab and communicate the technique. The detailed animation which doesn't fit into the video is included in the techniques article displayed underneath the video.
A nice little promo video on youtube is here.
The other advantage of JoVE is that it's a legitimate journal, so by paying the required price you are get yourself a publication to add to your list.
Peer Review Process
The peer review process used by JoVE is explained in full on their "Publication Criteria" page. The criteria a little bit vague, but it sounds like you can write the article first and it will be reviewed internally and by peers at the same time - and hopefully have a quick turn around time. If you're technique is at all novel (or doesn't already exist in JoVE), if it works, and if you can pay the bill you are probably in with a good shot (much better than other journals). All you'd need to do then is to find the time to get your lab organized so that JoVE can come and film. You can opt to film yourself (for slightly less cost), but then run the risk of them saying the video's quality and/or presentation doesn't fit with their format.
Since I've talked about advantages I should probably mention disadvantages - most notably that unless you pay extra only collaborators subscribed to JoVE will be able to view your video online. I'm currently unclear if paying the open access would allow you to distribute the video to places such as youtube.... since the JoVE logo appears throughout the video it actually be quite okay to distribute. With or without open access I'd like to assume there's no probably showing your videos in presentations, and you could *perhaps* sent the publication and video via e-mail, but as with any journal you'd get a slap if you tried putting your article elsewhere.
Having seen the power of these videos, you may actually fancy you could make such a video yourself. As a computer scientists, I've made videos before, but the advantage of JoVE is (a) they are have the proper equipment (good video cameras and screen recording software), (b) they have lots of experience with simplifying complex scientific processes into a short presentation and (c) they have their own template to use, so and you know the video will look good and (d) you get a publication at the end. Having a film crew appear also adds a certain legitimacy to the process. By paying the money and promising participating lab members an appearance on the authors listing authors you really incentives the essential members of your lab to take the effort and time to organize themselves, prepare and get the best bang for your buck!
JoVE may not be the best know journal, but it's one too keep an eye one. Any scientist who has had to teach, learn or reproduce lengthy procedures should be able to recognize the value of a video which summarize these processes. From an interface point of view, JoVE is a beautifully simple website, and their unique method of publication via step-by-step instructional video makes it much easier to reproduce experiments, than if you were to try and figure it out by reading masses of text without any video to show what really happens at the bench.