At Nature Protocols we have long held the, not particularly radical view, that seeing an experiment performed can be a whole lot more informative. We have always encouraged authors to provide videos of their experimental procedures and have used our Featured Videos page and more recently our YouTube channel to make them easier for readers to access. A little over a year ago we realised that by combining the commenting feature present on all our Protocols with YouTube’s player we could kluge together a way to tack videos onto the end of their HTML versions.
But now I’m very happy to say that these less than perfect solutions to showing how experiments are performed have been superseded. We can now display the videos right in the text of Protocols.
If you take a look at the recent Protocol by Lalita Ramakrishnan on “Evaluation of the pathogenesis and treatment of Mycobacterium marinum infection in zebrafish” (doi:10.1038/nprot.2013.068) you will see that the citations in the text to supplementary videos are also links. These links produce a pop-out video player on the page to watch the video. Or alternatively the videos can be viewed at larger size in the figure index.
This may seem like a small change but we hope that this way of handling videos will make them more useful to readers and we hope will encourage authors to think creatively about the use of videos in their protocols. We will certainly be encouraging authors to take advantage of the possibilities this facilitates.
What other changes to our presentation would you like to see? All supplementary figures and tables shown as pop-outs just like videos? Seamless access to the raw data behind figures? Procedures that you can annotate yourselves? Stopwatches attached to the timing sections? Just tell us and we will see what we can do.