Newswise — In the 10 billion dollar academic publishing industry producing over 25,000 scholarly journals, there is only one peer reviewed science video journal. This month, the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) celebrates the fifth anniversary of its first issue.
The journal is the brainchild of CEO and co-founder, Dr. Moshe Pritsker, who came up with the JoVE idea to increase the productivity of biological and medical research.
“The problem that scientists run into every day is the lack of efficient knowledge transfer, which impairs their productivity,” he said. “If you are a scientist who has done an experiment in your laboratory and describe it in a reputable scientific journal, I’m supposed to be able to reproduce it relatively easily. In reality, that’s not the case, because the traditional text format of science journals can not effectively transfer the complex knowledge necessary to reproduce experiments. This is why visualization using online video improves scientific publication.”
Though the answer to the problem seems simple, video-based publication is much more complicated than the traditional text-based publishing the academic publishing industry is built on. To be successful, JoVE needed to establish a systematic and scalable method of video production, develop revenue streams to sustain the higher cost, and ensure acceptance from the academic community.
“Back in 2006, nobody knew if researchers would accept it because nothing like it had been done before,” said Pritsker. “A lot of people wanted to use the articles, but not many wanted to publish.”
Despite fears, articles in the first issue came from prestigious institutions such Harvard and Princeton, helping JoVE gain traction in the scientific community. News articles about the journal soon appeared in The Lancet, Science, and Nature. In 2008, JoVE was indexed in PubMed and MEDLINE, the official repositories of the US government’s National Institute of Health.
Many of the original video articles were filmed by Pritsker himself, and JoVE’s Content Director, Dr. Aaron Kolski-Andreaco. To film and edit the growing number of articles JoVE accepted, the production strategy needed to change. Since 2007, Kolski-Andreaco has developed an international network of videographers to film experimental procedures in research institutions around the world and a centralized production team to script, edit, voiceover the articles.
“One of the biggest challenges associated with large scale production of JoVE video-articles has been developing a system that allows video professionals, who do not have science backgrounds, to record and assemble video of complex experiments,” said Kolski-Andreaco.
Centralized production meant that all videos could be professionally produced, making JoVE even more popular. Once JoVE gained acceptance and developed a scalable production strategy, its last challenge to overcome was financial sustainability. JoVE was free access, filming articles all over the world and hemorrhaging money. The authors who were publishing in JoVE were carrying the majority of its costs.
“JoVE was founded on the principle of rapid knowledge transfer, but having authors pay for the entire cost of video production was prohibitively expensive for scientists,” said Dr. Pritsker.
In April 2009, JoVE adopted a subscription model, and the University of California, Davis became the first subscriber, followed closely by Harvard University, MIT, Yale, Stanford, and other world leaders of academic research and education. Less than two years later, nearly 300 academic institutions subscribe to JoVE. However, JoVE continues to provide free access to developing countries in South America, Asia and Africa through the World Health Organization initiative, HINARI.
JoVE is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the academic capital of the world. Starting with 3 employees in 2007, the company now employs nearly 50 people, including science editors, video professionals, and business people.
“The growth was very rapid,” said Pritsker. “Our goal is to make video publication the must-have component of science communication.”