Let the data talk on their own? How to explain show and narrate data in short videos

In recent years and accelerated by the COVID19 crisis, video has become a preferential device for science pedagogics and communication. Scientists increasingly use video in their (digital) lectures and seminars, and to communicate their insights to outsiders. This development is accelerated as people outside science increasingly turn to online video platforms such as YouTube for information retrieval about scientific topics (Allgaier 2019; 2020). Debates around hockey sticks and #flattenthecurve graphs within social networks have also shown that people recently acquired considerable skills to see, interpret and negotiate data - which is commonly referred to as ‘data literacy‘ (Bhargava et al. 2015; Gray et al. 2016).

For the researchers, producing such videos is both challenging from a technical and conceptual point of view. What technologies are there to produce and edit videos? How can we get access to such software and other equipment? How does one edit film material? And even more important: how can I tell an interesting and comprehensible story within the video medium? What possibilities are there to show and distribute my content within online and social media platforms?

For Geo.X fellows, it is a challenge to explain their highly technical, data-heavy scientific knowledge to people outside their own scientific community of practice, to non-experts and different publics. How to talk about ‚data’ if the concept of data is not well known to or easily misinterpreted by the audience? How to highlight what is important and to blackbox what is irrelevant to the specific target audience? How to show, represent and explain data? And how to tell as story with data and use metaphors for a better understanding?

During the week, participants of the research challenge will learn about, experiment and cope with the challenges to explain, visualize and narrate ‚data’ using the medium of the video. The fellows will collaboratively produce videos and reflect on the challenges encountered within the process. Adressed elements and aspects during the school:

*Getting inspiration (watching and discussing online videos by scientists)- Narrative strategies for data storytelling *Getting to know technologies for video production (cameras, sound, editing and visualization software) *Learn how to use video production software *Upload and distribute content online

At the end of the school, fellows will have a clearer idea how to use the medium of the video for their own science communication. They may also have produced a short video within the week, alone or in collaboration with colleagues. The ideas and reflections gathered during the week will be collected in a living document, which may ultimately take the form of a published guide.

Contact person

Simon Hirsbrunner & Maria Piquer Rodriguez


Allgaier, Joachim. „Science and Environmental Communication on YouTube: Strategically Distorted Communications in Online Videos on Climate Change and Climate Engineering“. Frontiers in Communication 4 (2019). https://doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2019.00036.

———. „Science and Medicine on YouTube“. In Second International Handbook of Internet Research, herausgegeben von Jeremy Hunsinger, Matthew M. Allen, und Lisbeth Klastrup, 7–27. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1555-1_1.

Bhargava, Rahul, Erica Deahl, Emmanuel Letouzé, Amanda Noonan, David Sangokoya, und Natalie Shoup. „Beyond data literacy: reinventing community engagement and empowerment in the age of data“. Data-Pop Alliance White Paper Series. Data-Pop Alliance (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Lad and Overseas Development Institute) and Internews, 2015.

Gray, Jonathan, Liliana Bounegru, Stefania Milan, und Paolo Ciuccarelli. „Ways of Seeing Data: Toward a Critical Literacy for Data Visualizations as Research Objects and Research Devices“. In Innovative Methods in Media and Communication Research, 227–251. Springer, 2016. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-40700-5_12.