Oxford Sparks: Get Involved
Oxford Sparks is the University's digital engagement platform for sciences, and produces high quality media such as podcasts and videos, as well as managing social media channels. Find out how you can get involved.
The Oxford Sparks team is excited to announce that the platform is relaunching in Michaelmas 2021! Alongside some shiny new branding, we will be regularly creating live action video content which will be shared across our website and social media channels (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).
Tell me more about these videos...
The new Oxford Sparks videos fall into two main categories:
1) Short-form videos for social media. Fun and informal videos shot by researchers and edited by us. These videos will be <2 minutes 20 seconds (i.e. Twitter compliant), and an example can be seen below. All ideas are welcome, but some broad categories you might like to think about are "Everyday Science", "Seasonal Science" and "Behind-the-Scenes in the Lab/Field". These videos have no associated cost.
2) Micro-documentaries. These videos will be longer (between 5 and 10 minutes), and more formal in style. They provide the opportunity to cover a research topic in greater depth, and an example can be viewed below. These videos will be filmed and edited by us, and require a subsidised fee of £1,600 (click here for guidance about including this in your research grant proposal or click here to contact us for more information).
All of our videos are primarily aimed at an audience of 'Curious Spectators'. These are individuals who do not generally consider themselves 'science fans', and do not actively seek out science content, but will enjoy engaging with it if presented in an appealing way. They perhaps lack confidence in finding scientific content they can trust, being wary of misinformation. We aim to create transparent, open, credible and engaging content that Curious Spectators can relate to, providing a positive engagement experience.
While our primary audience is aged 30-60, we will endeavour to make sure all our video content is accessible to those aged 14+.
How can I get involved?
If you are interested in creating a video with us, please don't hesitate to get in touch! Proposals are welcome from University of Oxford researchers at any career stage, including DPhil students. Anyone working on scientific or science-related research, from any Division, is welcome to submit a proposal. If you are unsure whether you are eligible, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the team. Click here to email email@example.com.
Proposals will be reviewed on a monthly basis, and we will be in touch via email after this point. Please note that we have limited capacity, and will therefore unfortunately only be able to choose one micro-documentary per month.
How does the process work?
If your video proposal is selected, we will begin by arranging an online meeting between you (and your wider research team if applicable) and the Oxford Sparks team. In this meeting, we aim to learn more about your research, and what you hope to achieve through the video (i.e. what are the key messages you'd like to get across, is there a call to action at the end?). We can also begin to think about the creative side of things (what is the narrative, where will the filming take place?). In this meeting we can also start to map out a timeline for video production.
Short-form social media videos
For these shorter videos, we will work with you to create a narrative, script and storyboard. We will then guide you through the process of filming yourself, to ensure you achieve the best results possible - but note that an informal, unpolished filming style is very popular on social media! We will then edit the video for you, and share across our social media channels.
"Working with Oxford Sparks was an incredible opportunity for my research to connect with a wide and diverse audience. This was not only helpful for me to generate interest in what I am doing, but also is in line with what my funder (NIHR) prioritises, which is knowledge dissemination to wide audiences. The process was incredibly easy, efficient, and fun. The Oxford Sparks team lead me through everything, and was flexible with my timeline and artistic preferences (i.e., music used, visuals, etc.). In total, I probably spent an hour on the process, however the end result has allowed me to connect with more people than a typical research paper (where the process can take several months to a year). I highly recommend working with Oxford Sparks to help increase the impact of your research through an enjoyable and fun process!" - Rakhshan Kamran, DPhil students and NIHR doctoral research fellow, NDORMS.
Micro-documentaries are more formal in style, and longer than the social media videos (5-10 minutes compared to ~2 minutes). After the initial online meeting, the Oxford Sparks team will draft a brief, which will be presented to the research team for approval. Once the brief and production time-line have been signed off, filming dates and locations will be secured. Filming should take place over one day, or two consecutive days if multiple people/locations are involved. During the editing phase, a draft edit will be presented to the research team for feedback, and the final version will be presented for approval before it is released across our channels.