Innovation: eLife challenges Hack24 participants to envision a new future for science on the web

eLife returns to Hack24 with a new challenge for 2018.
Inside eLife
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This March, we are excited to return as a challenge setter for Hack24, a 24-hour hackathon in Nottingham, UK. We have set the hackers the challenge of envisioning a new future for science on the web.

eLife challenge: envision a new future for science on the web

Scientific progress is accelerated when researchers share their findings with each other and with the wider world. This can be through written publications or at conferences — but much of science isn’t yet using the web to its greatest potential: to share information with anyone and everyone.

At eLife, we work to bring the power of digital technology to science publishing, and to promote collaboration, transparency and openness in research – and we’d like your help! We are looking for new tools or technologies that improve the discovery, sharing and consumption of life science and biomedical research.

This is your chance to get involved in a movement to move science from a closed-access, commercially-governed system to a more open, transparent and collaborative web – help us make science open source with your hack at Hack24.

For example:

  • Science has an information overload problem: could you use AI to help scientists see where the next big leap forward will come from?
  • Science is for everyone: could you socialise science on the web, with annotation tools, discussion platforms, or chat functions?
  • When reading about science in the news, how could we find the original research paper if the journalist hasn’t linked to it already? Could you help to validate news articles from the raw research?
  • Could you design a Stack Overflow for scientists based on the Microsoft Academic Graph?
  • Scientists are being asked to be coders now too, with little time to learn best practises: how might we matchmake researchers and developers to improve research code quality?
  • What would you do if you could extract all the facts from science already on the web using text and data-mining tools?
  • Science has a big impact on all of us as citizens, but much of it is done behind closed doors: can we use web tools to make science accessible to more people?

We’ll be looking out for hacks that:

  • Improve how life science and biomedical research is discovered, shared, consumed or evaluated
  • Produce a working prototype of a tool that is likely to be adopted in the real world
  • Embrace the principles of openness and collaboration

Members of the winning team will each receive a glow-in-the-dark plankton aquarium (got to be seen to be believed!), a copy of Reinventing Discovery, and the chance to feature their project on eLife Labs.

To help you hack, we will be on hand to assist with more ideas, resources and feedback. Hackers are encouraged to build on any available API and to be imaginative with the services they integrate into their hack.

Naomi Penfold, eLife’s Innovation Officer, will be judging the entries for the eLife challenge. At eLife, she engages with the research and technology communities to discover new tools and technologies that make the research process more rapid, open and collaborative. Throughout the weekend, feel free to approach Naomi to discuss your ideas for the hackathon and ask about the world of software development in a not-for-profit, mission-driven organisation.

Hack24 participants with questions about the eLife challenge and our openly available resources for developers are welcome to get in touch with Naomi through the Hack24 Slack channel, by email to, or via twitter @eLifeInnovation.

About eLife Innovation

The way that scientific research is shared and evaluated still bears the legacy of a system based around print media. New technologies in the digital era present a huge opportunity to accelerate discovery and make science collaborative instead of competitive. eLife is a unique collaboration between the funders and practitioners of research to improve the way important research is selected, presented and shared by exploiting new technologies. The open-access eLife journal for outstanding advances in life science and biomedical research was just the first step in this initiative. Now, eLife also supports the development of open tools, technologies and processes aimed at improving the discovery, sharing, consumption, and evaluation of scientific research. Explore innovation in research communication at eLife Labs.