Margret Plank, Bastian Drees (TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology)

Explore 100 Years Of Scientific Films: The TIB AV- Portal

In addition to the scientific core tasks, the dimension of transfer and scientific infrastructure services is becoming increasingly important. According to the German Wissenschaftsrat, transfer does not only include technological transfer [Wissenschaftsrat 2013]. Transfer also includes  the communication of scientific findings into society, culture, business, and politics. In order to use research findings in other areas of society, results must be accessible, searchable, citable and brought together across disciplinary boundaries.

Scientific events such as conferences, symposia, summits, plenaries, workshops and tutorials play a crucial role for knowledge transfer. Research ideas and results are presented and discussed at such events and in some cases published in conference proceedings or journal articles. With the advent of digital media, information, communication and working behaviour in science and society  has changed fundamentally. Today, a growing number of scientific events are recorded on video and subsequently published online. Video recordings of scientific events can bridge the gap between science and society by opening the internal scientific communication to the public, thereby increasing the transparency of the scientific world. Science journalists, decision makers and interested laypersons can thus inform themselves about the recent results and discussions in science. This fosters both transdisciplinary research activities and informed decision-making based on scientific facts and helps regaining trust in scientific work. Moreover, audiovisual media are particularly well suited to enhance the impact of scientific research [Körkel 2013, Whitesides 2011]. Video recordings of conference talks can be embedded in websites of researchers or institutes or in science blogs, they can be shared in social media and included in talks. Thus, they develop a visibility that reaches into social and economic areas.

Although videos are becoming increasingly common in science, conference recordings are mostly produced and published in an unsystematic and improvised way. Professional recordings are rare, publication platforms for audiovisual content that meet scientific standards hardly exist and digital preservation for those materials is practically non-existent [TIB 2017].

According to a recent qualitative study among science conference hosts and organisers, no common standards have yet been established for the production and publication process of conference recordings [Drees 2018, TIB 2017]. This results in insufficient recognition of authors/speakers, inadequate metadata and licences, videos that are difficult to retrieve or not available. The videos are often published on YouTube, Vimeo or similar platforms or directly on the conference website. This frequently results in link rot, i.e. videos can no longer be found after a short time because the URL has changed and external links lead to nowhere. Moreover, conference organizers have found it difficult to surmount the significant organizational, technical, and financial barriers to production and distribution of conference recordings and fully satisfy accessibility demands [Drees 2018, TIB 2017]. All these obstacles mean redundant and additional work, suboptimal search results and even a burden on budgets.

In order to overcome these obstacles and to accelerate the transfer of scientific findings into practice TIB opererates ConRec, an innovative, highly reliable and sustainable conference recording service. The service aims at supporting conference hosts and organisers as well as the presenting scientists in managing the entire life cycle of conference recordings, including planning, rights clearance, recording, publication, exploitation and infrastructure service. Building on existing competences in the field of professional video production and using the unique publication platform for scientific videos, the TIB AV-Portal, ConRec opens up entirely new opportunities for science communication and knowledge transfer as it is suitable for intra- and interdisciplinary communication as well as for communication to business, industry and the interested public.

The above mentioned TIB AV-Portal offers a reliable, legally compliant and open infrastructure for the hosting and sharing of scientific videos, most of which are available under Creative Commons licenses. The portal was developed jointly by the TIB and the Hasso Plattner Institute and has been operated by TIB since 2014. At present, the stock amounts to nearly 20,000 videos, including conference and lecture recordings as well as computer visualizations, simulations or video abstracts. The open, bilingual (English/German) platform provides automatic analyses, which improve the searchability of videos on the segment level. Using Shot Boundary Detection, the video is segmented by image characteristics to create a visual table of contents. Text recognition captures and indexes written language, for example texts on presentation slides. Speech recognition translates the spoken language in the video into a searchable transcript. Visual Concept  Detection indexes the moving image with predefined visual concepts such as “landscape”, “facade detail”, “technical drawing” or “software code”. All videos are allocated a digital object identifier (DOI), so that they can be cited. Individual film segments are allocated a media fragment identifier (MFID), which enables the video to be de-referenced and cited to the second. TIB publishes the authoritative and time-based, automatically generated metadata of videos as linked open data [Waitelonis 2016]. Based on the solid ground of the AV-Portal as well as TIB’s long-term digital archive and its longstanding DOI registration service.

With the support of these analysis procedures and technologies, information and scientific content can be better explored. Using semantic and explorative search functions (“facet search”), videos can be searched by content and relevant video segments can be identified precisely. In order to enable third parties to re-use the extensive metadata stocks of the AV-Portal, all bibliographic metadata as well as the automatically generated time-based metadata of the AV-Portal from voice, text and  image recognition, which are under Open Access License Creative Commons 1.0 (CC0), are made available for re-use as linked open data in standard RDF format (Resource Description Framework). In addition to DOI, the data stock is enriched with further identifiers such as ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID), ISIL (International Standard Identifier for Libraries and Related Organisations) or GND-ID (Integrated Authority File) in order to increase the visibility and interoperability of the data stocks. The upload of additional material related to the videos complements the information enhancement. Causal associative metadata relationships, such as ‘isSupplementBy’, ‘isSupplementTo’, ‘cites’ or ‘isCitedBy’, allow the user to connect a video and other related materials. In  order to cover the wide spectrum of these materials, different file formats (doc, .cdv, .odt, .pdf, .jpeg, etc.)are accepted in the portal [Plank 2016]. DOIs are used to link a video to a journal article and vice versa.

In addition, the AV-Portal ensures that the videos of different conferences from different years are united at one place. Those in search of a recording of a lecture who are unsure in which year and at which conference the presentation was given no longer have to painstakingly search through the individual pages of different conferences – everything can be found in the TIB AV-Portal at a glance. Examples include SIGMOD/PODS International Conference on Management of Data, Leibniz Mathematical Modeling and Simulation (MMS) Days, FOSS4G (Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial), Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings or Heidelberg Laureate Forum.


Video recordings of conference talks are becoming more and more common in the scientific communities (although there are huge differences between subjects). While aspects such as long-term accessibility and sustainability are considered very important among organizers and scientists, persistent identifiers, like DOIs, are scarcely used and videos mainly uploaded on the conference website or YouTube. Libraries should start here and provide reliable, free and open infrastructures for audiovisual media. The TIB AV-Portal is such an infrastructure that guarantees the digital preservation of videos and uses persistent identifiers.


Drees, B. and Plank, M. (2018). Video is the new grey. The Grey Journal, 14(1), 26-30. ISSN 1574-1796.

Körkel, T. and Hoppenhausn, K. (eds) (2016). Web Video Wissenschaft – Ohne Bewegtbild läuft nichts mehr im Netz: Wie Wissenschaftsvideos das Publikum erobern. Spektrum der Wissenschaft. Heidelberg (PDF).

Plank, M. and Marin-Arraiza, P. (2016). Move beyond text – How TIB manages the digital assets researchers generate. The Grey Journal, 12(1): 5–9.

Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) (2017). Questionnaire and Dataset of the TIB Survey 2017 on Conference Recordings. Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB). DOI: 10.22000/64

Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) (2018). Survey on Conference Recording Service among the Institutions of the Leibniz Association. Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB). DOI: 10.22000/72

Waitelonis J., Plank M., Sack H. (2016). TIB|AV-Portal: Integrating Automatically Generated Video Annotations into the Web of Data. In: Fuhr N., Kovács L., Risse T., Nejdl W. (eds) Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries. TPDL 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9819. Springer, Cham, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-43997-6_37

Whitesides, G. (2011). Publishing Your Research 101. Impact of video on scientific articles. American Chemical Society. [Video]. – (retrieved: 2018/03/16) Wissenschaftsrat: Perspektiven des deutschen Wissenschaftssystems (Drs. 3228-13), Braunschweig 2013, S. 25. Wissenschaftsrat: Positionspapier Wissens- und Technologietransfer als Gegenstand institutioneller Strategien“ (Drs. 5665-16).