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Hylke Koers | Content Innovation Manager, Elsevier

New initiative will allow authors to create online presentations about their papers for display alongside their article on ScienceDirect. If you would like to offer this for your journal, read on...

Do you feel that too much research is being published these days? The answer to that question is usually a whole-hearted “yes” – an answer you will surely recognize. But when the same researchers are asked whether they feel they have published too much lately, that “yes” often becomes a “no”.

What is this telling us? I take this as an indication that researchers are increasingly struggling to keep up with the literature available but, at the same time, want to make sure that their paper gets the attention it deserves. Recent research by Elsevier [1] shows that scientists, on average, spend 9.3 hours per week browsing, searching and reading the literature on offer; that is a substantial portion of their time and it’s not surprising that useful papers are sometimes missed. With the volume of research output continuing to grow, this problem is only going to increase unless new tools are developed that will make it easier for researchers to find the articles most relevant to them.

We believe we can help. In 2011, Elsevier announced the Article of the Future project - a new, online article format offering better support for digital content, and a better online reading experience with a user-friendly, clean presentation.

Research has also shown that, thanks to the new format, readers are able to more efficiently determine if a paper is relevant for them. The biggest time-save (up to 34%) is in identifying and discarding irrelevant papers, which leaves more time to focus on the ones that matter [2].

We are now adding a new feature to the online article that offers a whole new dimension to this process by giving authors the possibility to explain in their own words what their paper is about: AudioSlides.

AudioSlides are brief, five-minute presentations created by the authors of the article using slides (PDF and PowerPoint) and voice-over recordings. This gives authors the opportunity to explain their paper in their own words in an appealing, easily accessible presentation format. The resulting video is displayed alongside the article on ScienceDirect. Authors can share personal insights into their research, highlight the paper’s salient points and, more importantly, explain why the paper is relevant for other researchers. This helps to make the paper stand out from the crowd and attracts readers that are interested in the subject. In particular, it can help to boost appeal to the younger generation of researchers, who have grown up with YouTube and enjoy using this format for learning.

To help authors create AudioSlides presentations, Elsevier has developed an easy-to-use, web-based tool. Authors can log in at any time to upload slides, and record a voice-over per slide. The tool works with all modern browsers, so only a computer, internet connection, and a microphone are required. Authors can make as many recordings as needed, and add, remove, or delete slides until they are happy with the result. AudioSlides is offered as a complimentary service for authors and the presentations will be made freely available on ScienceDirect.

The AudioSlides project was launched as a pilot mid-2012, and the initial response from both authors and readers has been very positive. Authors who have created a presentation tell us that they spend a few hours on it and are happy to recommend it to their peers. Based on this positive feedback, we will be rolling out the AudioSlides service to more titles throughout 2013. If you are interested in offering AudioSlides to your authors and readers, please reach out to us to nominate your journal for fast-track inclusion.

For more information and examples, please visit

[1] Researcher Insights Index - Reading Behaviour; Research & Academic Relations, Elsevier. More than 50,000 individuals were randomly selected from across 1.2 million authors that published in 2009 (source: Scopus). They were approached to complete the study in Jan 2012. There were 4,225 respondents. Data has not been weighted, responses are representative of the Scopus data by discipline and country. Error margin is ± 1.3%, at 90% confidence levels.

[2] IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg et al., “Elsevier's Article of the Future enhancing the user experience and integrating data through applications”, UKSG Insights 25 (1), March 2012, DOI: 10.1629/2048-7754.25.1.33