Cooperation instead of competition: Reflections on how institutional science videos can have more impact

Thilo Körkel - Germany

Thilo Körkel is Strategic Partnerships Manager for »Nature Research«, the publisher of the scientific journal »Nature«, and for the German popular science publisher »Spektrum der Wissenschaft«. Both are business areas of the international academic publisher »Springer Nature«, owned by the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group in Stuttgart, Germany. Thilos core concern is to support scientific institutions, foundations, universities and companies in the fields of science and science communication by tailoring the service portfolio of »Springer Nature« to their needs.

After having obtained his diploma in physics at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, now Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), he joined an advisory company in the field of investment banking as a consultant. Four years later Thilo made his way into the media. As an editor of physics and astronomy at »Spektrum der Wissenschaft« for eight years he got thorough insights into many developments at the frontiers of science. In parallel he initiated and operated an innovative science video portal for »Spektrum.de« (»SciViews« on www.Spektrum.de/video), which journalistically curates video content from the web while also providing visibility and reach for the videos of major scientific institutions.

In these years Thilos passion for the intersection between science and science film and video developed. He co-edited an e-book about »Web Video Science« (https://books.apple.com/de/book/id1103279771), with support of the Robert Bosch Foundation, and developed the video portal into an editorially and financially successful part of the »Spektrum« portfolio. As speaker of a group of experts including commissioning editors of public broadcasters, festival producers and YouTube professionals, he helped preparing the establishment of the international film festival »Silbersalz« (www.silbersalz-festival.com), which is funded by Robert Bosch Foundation and will take place for the third time in 2020.

In cooperation with the German scientific news service Informationsdienst Wissenschaft (www.idw-online.de) and the open access video journal Latest Thinking (www.lt.org) Thilo is currently conceiving a »standard« for science news videos, which will allow institutions to produce and distribute videos routinely, at predictable costs, in predictable quality, and with predictable impact.

He is also a member of the board of the European Academy of Science Film (www.eurasf.org), the umbrella organization of European science film festivals, and co-editor of the »Science & Video« newsletter (https://www.spektrum.de/newsletter/science_and_video/) for institutional science communicators.

https://www.spektrum.de/newsletter/science_and_video/

Session introduction

Videos are invaluable if you want to effectively and grippingly communicate science to your audiences. But what if the clips of your institution, no matter how good, thrilling or expensive, remain practically unseen or do not make a lasting impression to their audiences? However, it is far from effective, that each scientific institution builds their own expertise, their own videoformats and their own video channels. By doing so they compete with each other instead of joining forces to stand out in a global »market«. We therefore ask: How can scientific institutions cooperate in the field of video to expand their impact? and give examples for such cooperations from our experiences as a publisher in the field of science and popular science.

Session in-depth

Videos are invaluable if you want to effectively and grippingly communicate science to your audiences. But what if the clips of your institution, no matter how good, thrilling or expensive, remain practically unseen or do not make a lasting impression to their audiences? And what, if producing videos overly strains the resources of your communication department, in terms of time, budget or expertise?

And what, if – for all of these reasons – support from your institution for the continuous production of videos is gradually dwindling? Then video is not the start into using a highly promising new communication channel, but a dead end.

To shed more light on these questions we present experiences from a variety of endeavours in the field of science video, in which we were or are involved. We do this from the perspective of the German popular science publisher »Spektrum der Wissenschaft«, which is part of the international academic publishing company »Springer Nature«, the latter known as the publisher of the journal »Nature«, among many others.

Our leading question: How can science videos become an integral and efficient element of institutional science communication?

To find answers we need to find out how institutional science videos can be successful and visible in the midst of an overwhelming competition of science videos on the web, and how they can convincingly take a stance against fake, anti-science, and conspiracist views.

However, the bar is set high: Institutional science videos need to match the relevant quality criteria, need to fulfill expectations regarding reach and impact, and need to be cost-effective. Only then institutions do not run out of breath while producing them.

The projects and platforms we’re involved in include a video portal operated by the German popular science magazine »Spektrum der Wissenschaft«, the establishment of a German Science Network on YouTube, and the preparation of an international science film festival, also in Germany. Currently, in partnership with a long-established scientific news service in Germany, we’re also establishing a »standard« for science news videos, which allows institutions to do videos routinely, at predictable costs, in predictable quality, and with predictable impact.

In Germany alone there exist more than a thousand science related institutions. It is far from effective, that each of them builds their own expertise, their own videoformats and their own video channels. By doing so they compete with each other instead of joining forces to stand out in a global »market«.

So our leading question translates into a new question: How can scientific institutions cooperate in the field of video to expand their impact? In concluding this lecture we will therefore sketch some pathways to how such cooperations might look like.

(Interactivity: We’ll open up the talk for questions twice. Once, when we present the projects etc we’re involved in. The question to the audience would be: Who has experiences to add? The next opportunity to open up the discussion is at the very end of the presentation, when the »new« leading question is formulated and needs answer. We’ll handle that depending on the audiences reactions to our invitation to enter the discussion.)