The Biovideo Project

Students interview people about their their experience of the Honours year, PhD and biomedical research.

What is the Biovideo Project?

The biovideo project aims to help biomedical sciences academics to understand the perspective of undergraduate science and medical science students and encourage undergraduates to learn more about scientific research by talking to people who have made such research a big part of their life.

The project started in 2009 with four senior-year undergraduate Neuroscience (Cellular and Integrative) students and two physiology academics organizing focus-group discussions to work out what might be done to improve communication between academics and students. What came from those discussions was that students felt they had no idea what a career in science involves, and they had trouble finding out because of the lack of opportunity to talk to academic researchers during class time (big class syndrome).

To begin to do something about this lack of communication, both for themselves and for undergraduates who would follow them, the four students each interviewed a researcher, edited the video which were uploaded onto YouTube and can be accessed via the Biovideo interview Library page.

In early 2010 two neuroscience undergraduates took the project forward. Jean and Kate interviewed undergraduate peers about their perceptions. Peers viewed the prospect of Honours or PhD research as "hard" and "boring". They imagined researchers as "Crazy old people in dark dingy labs staring down a microscope all day". Kate and Jean also contacted a number of researchers and visited their labs before creating their own video interviews, which have been added to the library below. They also identified other web resources that might be helpful to those interested in what to do with their degree (see links below).

Our aim is now to grow this library into a useful career-research resource for future students considering career options and whether or not Honours and PhD studies might be right for them.

You can help us make a contribution to this resource by creating your own biovideo.

Links to other web resources that aim to illuminate research and the careers that it can take you to:

Create your own Biovideo


What are the questions I want to ask?

Do you want to understand why people made the decision to undertake a research degree? What they found good and bad about their life in science? The first thing before interviewing anyone is to think hard about what questions you want answered. It really helps when the camera is rolling to have a set of written questions. For their interviews in 2009, Alex, Alice, Emma, and Michael devised the following list of questions:

  1. Who are you? (What do you do?)
  2. Where did you study? (What did you study?)
  3. What did you do after your undergraduate degree?
  4. At the endpoint of your degree, what influenced your decision to continue into honours/postgraduate studies?
  5. Why choose a research career?
  6. Why honours/PhD? (What did you enjoy about these studies? What surprised you?)
  7. What keeps you in a research career?
  8. What do you enjoy most about your research career/postgraduate studies?
  9. How long have you been in science? What changes have you seen in science over that period of time?
  10. What does a career in science allow you to do that another career might not? (at home? at work? personally? etc.)
  11. Were/are your decisions goal-driven or lifestyle-driven?

Who might I interview?

People use their PhD training to go into all sorts of different directions: pure science, research and teaching, analysts and technical specialists in business and government. Many people spend their whole lives in research so you can also interview people at any or all stages of a career to get a long-term perspective. Ask around. Before you settle on someone to formally interview its good to visit several workplaces of graduates who are now working in a range of careers.

Remember this interview is about you getting good honest career advice: advice that might also be helpful for other students who view the video. It’s not about promoting a particular research lab, Department or Institution. It’s easy to find out about research projects options via Pubmed, Google or institutional websites.

To recruit an interviewee, email them and explain that you want to interview them to learn about their personal experiences of life in research, and to contribute to the Biovideo project. I've found that people are nearly always happy to give me honest career advice when I asked them.

What are the technical issues in making and editing a video?

Remember this is for YouTube not Hollywood, but because it is an interview try to get good sound quality. Here’s some tips:

How and why should I link my video into the Biovideo library?

How? If you send your YouTube link to me, Bill Phillips plus a copy/pdf scan of the release form signed by you and the interviewee] we can place a link from this site.

Why? The Biovideo library page provides a central catalogue of videos for students looking for genuine one-to-one interviews made by their peers (not corporate promotions or spoofs).

If you have suggestions on how to improve the Biovideo project and the ability of students to access it please drop us a line at the email address above,


Bill Phillips and Bronwyn McAllan (Biovideo Project coordinators)

Go to Biovideos