eReviews: JoVE (The Journal of Visualized Experiments), September 15, 2012

JoVE (The Journal of Visualized Experiments)
Sample articles

Content Most electronic journals are merely digital manifestations of an existing print journal—PDF or HTML versions of text and graphics. The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), though, takes full advantage of the possiblities offered by online publication. It builds upon the traditional peer-reviewed journal format to include videos of experimental procedures and protocols, accompanied by textual descriptions. Each article is built around a 5- to 10-minute video describing procedures and protocols. The goal is to allow researchers to re-create the techniques described, with the videos providing more clarity than would written directions alone.

The first 17 video-articles were published in 2006, and the journal has grown enormously since then; JoVE is now home to more than 1900 peer-reviewed video articles in six sections: “General,” “Neuroscience,” “Immunology & Infection,” “Clinical & Translational Medicine,” “Bioengineering,” and the newest category, “Applied Physics.” The majority of the resources (in excess of 1000) are categorized in the “General” section, but the other areas are adding material quickly. “Applied Physics” was introduced in July 2012, with eight articles published in the first two issues.

Authors can independently produce the videos, but since few researchers have video production experience, JoVE also provides access to a team of science video editors who will assist with everything from writing the original script to videography and post-production. As a result, the videos are much more polished and better filmed than typical online productions. This, thankfully, is not YouTube for scientists.

The articles focus on laboratory methodology, and the techniques described don’t have to be new. Some video-articles describe new applications of standard techniques, and all videos offer detailed, step-by-step instructions. They may include brief on-camera descriptions of methods from the authors, static images, videos of lab work and equipment, and microscopic images (videos and still photographs). Videos are divided into one- to two-minute chapters and are easy to navigate. A brief further-viewing list appears at the end of each.

In addition to its instructional video, each article has a written abstract, written step-by-step directions for the procedures described, sample results and discussion, a detailed list of necessary materials (including suppliers and catalog numbers), and a reference list.

Because presenting results through video is new to most authors, the journal provides extensive information to contributors, including detailed instructions via video. Authors who wish to self-produce are provided detailed information about how the videos are reviewed, including specifics about voice narration, camera work, graphic images (in medical and veterinary fields), and the use of still images and music.

For the same reason, video articles in JoVE undergo intensive editorial review in addition to typical scholarly peer review. Each article includes a DOI and sample citation information.

Usability Users are most likely to encounter JoVE articles via several search methods. The journal is indexed in PubMed, Scopus, Chem Abstracts and SciFinder, and its material can be easily found via Google and Google Scholar.

Once users get to the journal’s website, they can either search or browse for articles. The homepage lists recent and most popular pieces, and the eye-catching graphics from each video make exploration fun and interesting. The journal is browsable by issue or by selecting one of the six content sections described above.

JoVE’s homepage also includes a simple search box. While there isn’t an advanced search capability, once a query is completed it’s possible to filter the results by adding additional keywords, selecting specific authors or affiliations, filtering by publication date, or selecting a specific content section.

In addition to the regular content, JoVE articles include a wide range of additional features in a column to the right of the entry. Social media features are integrated via the “share” button (even nonsubscribers can view material that is shared in this way) and users can submit moderated comments or questions for the author on each article. A list of related videos is also offered there.

Users can easily download a PDF of the complete written material from each article, a separate PDF file for the materials list, and a XML file of the article. RIS files are also available; these are used to add material to citation managers such as EndNote or Mendeley. Videos must be watched on the JoVE website and cannot be downloaded. They can be viewed alongside the written content of the article or viewed in full-screen mode.

Each article includes links to translate the written text into Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, or Turkish, using Google Translate. The videos, however, are only available in English.

Pricing Articles in JoVE are made available to readers via several plans. All content is available by institutional subscription. Institutions can subscribe to the entire journal, or just to specific sections. Subscriptions to the general section are the most expensive. JoVE groups universities into three tiers: research universities, masters degree-granting institutions, and undergraduate institutions. Research universities can subscribe to all content for $26,000, to the general section for $8500, or to other sections for $5000 each. Undergraduate institutions are charged $2000 for the smaller sections of JoVE, $3500 for the general section, or $10,500 for access to all content.

All authors are charged author fees, although costs are lowered for those who independently produce their videos.

Some content is available as open access via two methods. Articles can be made available that way for an additional author fee. Alternatively, some articles are made freely available via corporate sponsorships. These often come from companies whose equipment is used in the procedure, and the extent of funding provided is stated in the disclosure agreements.

Verdict JoVE is an intriguing vehicle for the dissemination of scientific information, but is among the most expensive such resources. Still, schools with research-intensive programs in the applied sciences will find it useful, and it will be a welcome complement to other resources describing laboratory protocols. It is recommended for academic institutions, especially research universities; some special libraries may also find the
journal very useful.

Bonnie Swoger About Bonnie Swoger

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog, Readers can contact her at


  1. Trish Stumpf Garcia says:

    Thanks for the review. The article states: Social media features are integrated via the “share” button (even nonsubscribers can view material that is shared in this way)…

    I’s this true? I haven’t gotten sharing via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail to allow access to someone who is a non-subscriber. Am I missing something? I couldn’t even access a non-subscribed video that was shared by JoVE on their Twitter feed.