By Ashley Charest
How many times have you been reading a journal article with an unfamiliar technique, and the methods section does not give sufficient information for you to replicate the technique in your own future experiments? Or maybe you want to learn how to do something new, and the manual isn’t as clear as you would like. Or perhaps you just simply learn best through visual methods. Wouldn’t it be superb if there were something that was specifically geared toward students and trainees? Fortunately, there is a source that can remedy all of these dilemmas: the Journal of Visual Experiments, better known as JoVE.
JoVE’s visual format is designed to accomplish two major goals: to reduce the problem of poor reproducibility in science disciplines, and to diminish the time and demanding nature of new techniques. Scientists work under the guidance of JoVE’s resident videographers to create visually stunning and simple step-by-step videos about a specific topic or technique. Each video is about two to ten minutes long with current researchers performing scientific protocols while giving articulate verbal instructions. JoVE hosts two sections: the peer-reviewed journal and the JoVE Science Education Database.
JoVE delves into specialized techniques and is subdivided into biology, neuroscience, immunology and infection, medicine, bioengineering, chemistry, behavior, environment, and developmental biology. It is especially useful for well-trained, advanced scientists who seek in-depth information about a technique of interest.
But what about those of us who are just starting out? JoVE Science Education Database is geared more towards students or scientists with a basic understanding of the scientific material they wish to understand (this especially means intramural trainees!). The database is subdivided into basic biology, advanced biology, psychology, chemistry, and environmental sciences.
Since I am a postbac trainee myself, I decided to try out JoVE Science Education. I use electrophysiology to study potassium channels in HEK cells and mouse hippocampal slices in Dr. Dax Hoffman’s lab. As such, I do not have a large background in human behavior studies. JoVE Science Education has an entire section dedicated to cognitive psychology. One that I found particularly interesting was the video on dichotic listening, a behavior test used to study lateralization of perception of speech. Now I feel that I have a better understanding of at least one variation of psychological testing. The beauty of JoVE is that you can not only get your feet wet with the basics, but also dive in if you choose.
JoVE is accessible for students and researchers at any education level. The site is well organized and easy to use with videos on almost any imaginable scientific protocol. In fact, JoVE published its 4000th video in 2014. The next time you need to watch a protocol performed in the lab setting, check out JoVE. You can also keep up with them on Facebook and Twitter.