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What’s better: graphical abstracts or video abstracts?

If you’ve kept in touch with us for some time, you’ve likely heard about these incredible science communication tools called graphical and video abstracts.

They’re all about adding that visual kick to your research while also giving a big-picture impression of your work and its outcomes. And at Animate Your Science, we stand by the promise that you’ll be drowning in “Oooh’s” and “Ahhh’s” if you choose to represent your manuscript using one (or both) of these visual tools.

Minions meme Oooh Aaah

One day, perhaps that chunky abstract section will finally get replaced by something easier to digest. One day!

Though, while both are great, which one is better for promoting your research to your audience?

Think of how they might be used at conferences, social media, or on your personal scientist website. Each one excels in different things in different ways.

Let’s examine this further with some examples.

Are graphical abstracts better?

The humble graphical abstract is the perfect little addition to your publication or poster. This is because they’re:

And when you’re looking to spark conversation, whether in-person at a poster session or online on Twitter, you’ll find that there’s a lot of competition for attention. A graphical abstract is the perfect conversation starter which can quickly attract busy eyes with a splash of colour.

Graphical abstracts take less than a minute to read, which in comparison to your usual 200-word abstract, is an absolute win in my eyes (and in the eyes of your audience!)

female scientist with a graphical abstract on her poster
Superbug scientist superstar Dr Katharina Richter!

Take this example of a poster from Dr Katharina Richter. Equipped a stylish comic-style graphical abstract, she instantly won over everyone’s attention as comic strips are a very intuitive way for people to read stories. Chatter from all across the poster hall even referred to her as the “female James Bond”! Thanks to this increased visibility, her work would then be remembered by attendees many months after the conference. 👉

Similarly on the Twitterverse, you’ll want to avoid just pasting that URL of your publication while praying people click on it. Nobody wants to look at a boring link. So instead, if you have a visual attached you’ll get a huge increase in article visibility! The impact is summarised in our very own graphical abstract below about a study which analysed the effect of supplementing tweets with relevant visuals.

graphical abstract about impact of Tweets Ibrahim et al.
Visual abstracts are synonymous to graphical abstracts.

Give people a taste-test of what they’re about to click on with a simple graphical abstract that summarises the story. Images are also very easy to download, so everyone has the opportunity to save your graphical abstract to share with their own colleagues.

So if you’re looking to promote your work through the power of enhanced conversation, definitely give a graphical abstract a try. Get inspired to create your own!

Who knows, you might just end up shaking hands with your next big collaborator.

meme of professor next to poster presenter shaking hands

Or, are video abstracts better?

With some basic knowledge of video editing and storytelling, you can create video abstracts using some very beginner-friendly tools and styles. We won’t lie, creating a good one can:

  • Take time

  • Require some commitment to learning new skills

Though whether you choose to animate it, record it live on camera, or even have it professionally made is up to you!

And like graphical abstracts, video abstracts are also equally perfect for starting conversations. The key difference being that they can’t be printed, but this definitely doesn’t put them at a disadvantage!

Indeed, there are many situations where video works incredibly well for promotion.

For example, videos are MAGNETS for media interest. Journalists are far more likely to discover and take interest in your work when a media release written by your institution comes with a video abstract. The days of newspapers are far gone, so adding videos for an online article is exactly what motivates journalists to write about you and promote your work!

Video abstracts are also perfect for adding some pizzazz to your laboratory website. On a page which lists your publications, attach a video abstract them as a kind of “movie trailer” for each of your studies. You’ll be broadcasting your research even as you sleep.

And on social channels like Twitter, videos shine bright as the most shared media type. Did you know that Tweets with videos are six times more likely to be retweeted than Tweets with pictures? We definitely saw this level of impact for our video abstract for Professor Gretta Pecl in 2017! 👉

But for the ultimate impact, use both!

Just like this study by Dr Flynn Slattery and colleagues!

Flynn slattery graphical abstract man on a bike

When you have both, you can first grab media attention and wow your audience with a captivating video abstract. Then, remind them a week or two later with a social media post using your graphical abstract. You'll re-engage people who saw the first post, and capture a new audience that didn't. Hook your audience from all angles! 🎣

porque no los dos meme
She's got a very valid point.

For a great discussion about graphical and video abstracts, check out these interviews with the Director of Animate Your Science, Dr Tullio Rossi:

Until next time!


Dr Juan Miguel Balbin

Dr Flynn Slattery

Dr Tullio Rossi



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