Part of the process of getting a PhD is reading a lot of journal papers and making sure that you are well caught up on the current research. Now, personally I am not caught up on current research in my field and I don’t think that I ever will be. There is just too much information out there and not enough time in the day, but that is not the only problem.
The trouble is that paper alone is subject to second party interpretation. Often a writer believes (s)he is clearly explaining a subject, while someone reading the same article struggles to fully comprehend the subject.
I believe that journal papers are very needed, they are a great way to have growth in a research field, but I do not believe that they are keeping up with technology. As much as I wish it did not, reading takes time. No matter how fast of a reader you are there are quicker ways to present a overview of research, or the results of said research.
Audio and Video
While journal papers are wonderful at presenting the details if I want to quickly understand what a paper is about it often takes me reading much more than the abstract, often the entire paper must be read to have an understanding of the subject matter in which the paper truly covers.
I think that this type of publishing needs to be adapted to the 21st century, this is where videos and/or audio comes into play. Everyone nowadays uses online journals to access articles. Why not, when applicable, have a video or audio link next to the journal article that explains the paper and results.
Fun Examples of Such Videos
To provide an example of what I am talking about I have found a couple of great video examples that allow you to understand the idea and the conclusion behind the research without reading a 5 – 10 page journal article.
A paper in Nature and Communications was published in February of this year (2013), the article is 6 pages (8 with references) in length and located here. The 6 pages are actually a good read and the author does great research. However, this is a paper I would have never read if it were not for the video that the author posted. The video gives you a wonderful and clear picture of:
1. What the research was about.
2. What the results in the research are.
3. And it is really fun to watch, so more people are bound to see your study and site/read your journal paper.
A paper was published in the Advanced Materials journal that presented “Self-Healing Stretchable Wires for Reconfigurable Circuit Wiring and 3D Microfluidics” and was published in January of this year (2013). I don’t have access to this paper but I would love to read it to understand the types of materials used and if they tested performance of the wire over different power loads. The article is located here, but I don’t know the length of the paper. The one thing I notice from the video though is that while the wire is very thin the self bonding insulating coding is much thicker than I would have thought.
This one is not a paper but I think a paper could use a video like this to better explain what happens with a mach reflection.
MIT 3D Mapper
This particular video was made at MIT and I am sure there is a great paper to go along with it but I was not able to find a direct paper that correlated with the video. However, this video showed a great demonstration of how the technology works and how it can be used.
While journals are well needed in research, I believe that either researchers or journals are set in their ways. Eventually more video overviews of papers will be made, who will lag behind and who will lead the way?