We are introducing a new section to eLife today - eLife Labs. We aim to improve our services to researchers on an ongoing basis. Sometimes that calls for large changes to how things are done (such as our take on peer review), but often it calls for iterative modifications to our existing services, or to exploring speculative ideas that may bear fruit months or years later.
A critical component in deciding what to change, and where to place our efforts, is in getting feedback on these ideas from the community, and also having a place to simply test out features of functionality. Up until now we have been doing much of this experimentation and testing internally within eLife. We have decided that it would be great to also have a slightly more public space in which we can test out some of our ideas and very early prototypes, and that’s the role that we hope eLife Labs will play.
We are going to use eLife Labs to put up on the web small scale experiments. We anticipate putting up often incomplete or very rough sketches of ideas, and we hope to garner feedback through a number of ways such as direct user testing, usage metrics from the front end and server side, and from gathering general comments and feedback as we receive them.
We fully expect that most of the things that get released here will never make it into the main site, and we hope that learning early what works and what doesn’t will let us get to what does work faster.
So it’s with a sense of experimentation that we simultaneously release our first two experiments in this vein - an experimental search interface for eLife Lens documents and eLife Labs itself.
In a few month’s time we will go back and review whether this experiment has been helpful to us and to our community – we would love to hear your thoughts.