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Using video storytelling to make complex research more accessible

Academics are yet to fully embrace the potential of video narrative as a complimentary format for communicating their work, according to Deakin Business School researcher Dr Kristijan Mirkovski, who is walking his talk.

Like all academics, Dr Kristijan Mirkovski spends a lot of time reading journal articles by his peers and writing up his own. While this is an essential and irreplaceable part of the business of communicating academic research, Dr Mirkovski argues it should not be the whole story.

In a world where much of the information we consume comes via a video clip or infographic, Dr Mirkovski says video narrative offers rich possibilities for time-poor academics, especially information systems specialists like himself trying to keep up with the work of their peers and communicate their own research as widely as possible.

“There seems to be reluctance among many academics to explore the potential of video narrative as a publishing and communications medium; perhaps a fear that utilising it in any way will shift things away from the more familiar format of journals and books,” Dr Mirkovski said.

Dr Mirkovski, whose research background is focused on information systems, ICT adoption, and supply chain user behaviour, said his interest in the novel use of video storytelling was piqued by the issue of the practical relevance of Information Systems research.

“It has been an issue in this field for a long time — the question of the relevance of IS research and how we can make it more accessible and translatable to practitioners out in the field. When I started to look into it, I could see the rich possibilities of multimedia storytelling as a means for improving dissemination of IS research, both among academics and industry professionals,” he said.

“Our minds are wired in such a way that learning is significantly enhanced when visual and narrative elements are part of the frame, so it makes a lot of sense, to me, to find ways of adding video narrative to the research communications toolkit.”

Dr Mirkovski has been ‘walking his talk’, regularly using animated video narrative, in addition to academic papers, for communicating his own research. 

He has also begun a project to test his hypothesis that video narrative is a valuable medium for communicating research work in an engaging, easily digestible format. His investigation compares responses to an academic paper presented in different ways — comparative — just text format, text plus video, and just video.

Still in progress, results so far suggest text plus video is the optimum format, in terms of both the ability and willingness of other academics to process and digest the material. 

Dr Mirkovski hopes the work he is doing in this area will help encourage other academics, particularly those in information systems and digital analytics, to experiment with video storytelling. He is also investigating the development of a user-friendly program that will assist academics translate their latest academic paper into video narrative format. 

Here's an example of a narrative video, introducing a research project about business model development.