New Multimedia Article Format Revolutionizes Medical Research

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Fertility and Sterility, the flagship journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and its publisher Elsevier have created, and for the first time ever published,  a new multimedia article format that integrates video and traditional print research.

This project has been my labor of love for the past year and I am so excited to share the details here.  It began with my frustration at seeing medical research shoehorned into an an antiquated print system that precluded any leverage of the power of modern digital research and communication.

Online video and traditional print were previously two separate and unrelated worlds in scientific research.  I was astounded when i saw online journals that described how traditional print research couldn’t allow multimedia content.  It was obvious that we needed to find a mechanism to radically change medical research from within the system rather than try to build something new and reject a system used by all of scientific research.

The new mechanism allows videos to be cited the same way as a written article in a traditional print medical journal and seamlessly unifies online multimedia content and print journals. Researchers can watch footage of innovations and techniques and learn previously inaccessible information in new non-written formats while still being able to find this information through traditional medical print sources.

In the press release announcing the new initiative I was quoted:

“For the last 200 years, medical publishing remained unchanged. Our solution accommodates non-print work through fully integrated multimedia, opens up a whole new form of learning, and allows readers to become part of an ongoing interactive discussion,” says Dr. Steven Palter, the Video and New Media Editor of Fertility and Sterility. Dr. Palter, who developed the concept and spearheaded the project, says, “With this effort, we have bridged the gap separating the digital and traditional medical literature. This integration will lead to exciting new directions in research.”

The new media initiative is unique in several ways. It allows an article to exist simultaneously online and in the traditional medical journal and it enables videos to be citable publications for all traditional journals. Fertility and Sterility embeds an open access link in the article that appears both in PubMed and the Journal’s electronic tables of contents, and also in the print journal. QR codes associated with each article seamlessly bring readers from print journal to online video. Authors can create review articles, experimental techniques, anatomic overviews, case reports, and more. Videos, which are peer reviewed as part of the mainstream submission process are served open source through Google’s YouTube.

Craig Niederberger, MD, Co-Editor-in-Chief of Fertility and Sterility said, “We are committed to using modern communication methods, from online video to social media to enhance Fertility and Sterility. Medical journals are about conveying new information and new discoveries to others in the field. We simply cannot rely on print alone to do that anymore.”

Antonio Pellicer, MD, Co- Editor-in Chief of the journal, said, “Medicine has always been an international pursuit. Now with online distribution of multimedia articles the sharing of knowledge can occur even faster, indeed simultaneously around the globe, thus improving patient care more quickly and without regard to geography.”

Other digital on-line only journals have provided multimedia in the past and helped push the envelope.  For example The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) is publishing experimental techniques in the biological sciences in video format.” However this and other similar online only journals were a reaction to the limitations of the traditional print infrastructure– but remained separate and distinct from tradition mainstream medical research journals.  As such this model was not embraced by the mainstream.  Online only content is not integrated with traditional print journals where most research is published and is an island unto itself.  Traditional print journals could not use this system and the distinction remained a barrier that prevented this model from being used by other journals.  For our project I worked to find a solution whereby print and online were one integrated reciprocal system.

My vision for a digital “article 2.0″ and our initiative at F&S includes a key component of freely accessible interactivity available at  In addition to the multimedia video article every article published in Fertility & Sterility will have an open discussion forum freely accessible to anyone…  .subscribers, non-subscribers, physicians, researchers, industry and patients alike.  We stood fast behind the belief that free exchange of ideas will benefit all of medical research and we are willing to take the risks that come with opening the discussions up publicly.  We will also allow authors to submit video introductions to their articles and readers to submit video rebuttals- again all accessible through the journal or through YouTube.

With this innovation, ASRM and Elsevier have embraced the digital revolution that has rapidly transformed traditional publishing. Just as the Amazon Kindle brought epublishing to the masses, the new video article initiative of Fertility and Sterility bridges the gap between online multimedia and traditional medical research publishing.

This is part of a larger movement in publishing. Up until about 2009, the epub world and the NY mainstream publishing establishment were two separate worlds, divided by technology. In the realm of fiction, books have been published electronically since the 1990s, but were distinct and separate from traditional print publishing. Fiction that was a bestseller in that ebook world was largely unknown in the realm of mainstream, NY publishing. All that changed with the advent of the Kindle.

Amazon brought the technology of publishing books electronically to the mainstream marketplace — people who had never heard of e-publishing could now download electronic books using an application, the Kindle, designed to make electronic books even easier to buy than print books. They revolutionized publishing not by inventing a new kind of publishing (e-publishing had existed for nearly 20 years before the Kindle came out) but by bringing the digital revolution to a mainstream market. They universalized what had been a niche technology by bridging the gap between old school print publishing and the new digital ebooks.

By 2010, Amazon reported that its ebook sales outstripped its sales of print books. And now, digital publishing is fueling the profits of mainstream NY publishers. There is no more epublishing world and print publishing world – the two are integrated. It has become one big marketplace, and it is revolutionizing publishing around the world, part of the larger Digital Age.

Our editors view Fertility and Sterility as much more than a print entity and are embracing new and innovative ways of delivering research and engaging our readers. It’s a very exciting time for the Journal,” notes Elsevier Publisher Andrea Boccelli.

Embracing new technologies that support rapid transfer of critical information, add value to that information, and drive scientific innovation is a cornerstone of Elsevier’s publishing strategy, adds Christine Rullo, Vice President, Health and Medical Sciences, STM Journals. In keeping with this mission, we are extremely proud to publish Fertility and Sterility on behalf of ASRM and to have collaborated with them to realize this innovative multimedia program. This is an important step in the continuing evolution of the scientific article.

The first article “Single port laparoscopy” is authored by L. Carvalha et al from the Cleveland Clinic, and appears in the May 2012 issue of Fertility and Sterility and shows a new surgical principle. The abstract both on-line and in the print publication leads to an online video showing the technique. The article is currently indexed in PubMed at

The second article, Chromosome transfer in mature oocytes, is authored by M. Tachibana et al. from the Oregon National Primate Research Center and also appears in the May 2012 issue of Fertility and Sterility. The video demonstrates the innovative laboratory technique is at The article is currently indexed in PubMed at

The full text of the ASRM press release is available at :

Full text of Elsevier’s press release is at :


Steven Palter, MD is an ob gyn, reproductive endocrinologist, and fertility specialist.  He is the Medical and Scientific Director of Gold Coast IVF in Syosset, NY
The North Shore LIJ Health System released the following statement:

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