Meet JoVE: The YouTube Of Scientific Journals

Science journal meets YouTube in the Journal of Visualized Experiments; an open-access peer-reviewed online journal, accessible at, that has been publishing videos of biological research from labs across the country, including many from MIT.

One of the journal’s goals is to provide an effective means of communicating advanced lab techniques that would be more difficult to communicate in a traditional text journal.

Research videos range from “Microcontact Printing of Proteins for Cell Biology,” to “Obtaining Eggs from Xenopus Laevis [African clawed frog] Females.”

JoVE featured a project by MIT biology graduate student Randal Halfmann, in July.

In his video, Halfmann demonstrated a protocol he developed for screening hundreds of proteins at once for their potential to form amyloid in cells. Halfmann explained that his lab is interested in amyloid because it can encourage the propagation of prions, mis-folded proteins that cause Mad Cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Halfmann said that, before filming, JoVE editors wrote a script for him to explain the protocol based on a paper he submitted, and sent a freelance videographer to his lab to film the project.

“Being able to describe your work by video as well as in the subsequent commentary [posted on the site] makes science more communicative,” said Halfmann, who has published other research in traditional journals. “I think the motivation barrier for other researchers trying a new technique is lowered if they actually see and hear how the technique is done rather than just reading about it … I’m very happy with the exposure my work has gotten with this publication format.”

Joel Voldman, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, published a project titled “Patterning of Embryonic Stem Cells Using the Bio Flip Chip” last October.

The Bio Flip Chip is a micro-fabricated silicon chip containing thousands of microwells — cylinders that are about the size of a cell. These cylinders can be filled with cells by simply pipetting onto the chips, forcing cells into the microwells.

“The best way to do a project is to do it with someone, and JoVE somehow comes in the middle, because you get to watch someone doing it,” Voldman said.

Voldman has visited the site a few times since his research was published and said, “I don’t think there is anything that actually needs improvement in JoVE, though I am not really the target audience; people in trenches are!”