eLife latest: How readers are using annotations on our website

We take a look at how readers are already using the annotation tool, Hypothesis, on our website.

Earlier this year, we launched the annotation and commenting tool, Hypothesis, on eLife to allow users to make notes on all content, including research articles, commentaries, magazine articles and blog posts. A couple of months on, and we are already seeing different ways in which the tool is being used for holding scientific conversations online. We take a closer look at these below:

Linking to article preprints

The annotation platform is providing a quick and simple way for users to highlight where an article has previously been published as a preprint. This is important for allowing others to see where and when new findings first appeared online, and how the work has evolved since appearing on a preprint server and later going through peer review. You can see an example of where an author has flagged their eLife Feature Article as previously appearing in PeerJ below:

Highlighting consistent results

Authors can also highlight easily where new results published in eLife are consistent (or even inconsistent) with their own previous discoveries, allowing others to see where recent research is (or is not) supported by other work. One author has noted some recent results in eLife as being consistent with their own research in Development, and we hope that others will make similar use of the tool in future to help provide wider knowledge around new findings.

Showcasing ReFigures

Back in August 2017, we introduced a project, supported by the eLife Innovation Initiative, called ReFigure – an open source browser extension that allows researchers to connect new and previously reported findings across publisher websites and repositories. We are now seeing the annotation tool being used as a way of flagging ReFigures to other users. Indeed, several papers published as part of the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology contain annotations that direct readers to view the original data and replication side-by-side on ReFigure. As examples, see:

Providing feedback on blog posts

eLife supports the development of open source tools that can be used, adopted and modified by any interested party to help move towards an ecosystem that serves science and scientists as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible. These tools are often showcased via blog posts on eLife Labs. We were pleased to see the Hypothesis tool being used on eLife Labs to both provide feedback on its own implementation and suggest an interesting way in which it could be developed further to enhance conversations around scientific content. You can view this feedback here: Enabling scientific discussion on eLife with Hypothesis.

Annotations on eLife Labs are also being used by guest authors to invite feedback from readers and encourage discussion around their projects. You can see an example of this in the following guest write-up about the fifth edition of Science Hack Day Berlin: How DIY communities are pushing the frontiers of science.

Inviting readers to engage more with published research

Similarly to the above example, Hypothesis provides a platform for authors of published research to introduce themselves alongside their work, say more about it and invite people to discuss any of their findings. For examples of where authors have taken advantage of this opportunity to engage more with their readers, see:

Future use cases

We envision Hypothesis being adopted in various other ways in future, including as an effective platform for members of journal clubs to discuss and evaluate recent discoveries. For now, we encourage continued use of the tool as a way of holding valuable scientific conversations online – such as by flagging preprints and consistencies among new and previous results, linking to ReFigures, and providing constructive feedback on each other’s research and projects.

To get started with annotating content on eLife, see: https://elifesciences.org/inside-elife/3afaf00a/elife-latest-now-add-notes-and-comments-as-you-read

And for more information about our collaboration with Hypothesis, visit: https://elifesciences.org/for-the-press/81d42f7d/elife-enhances-open-annotation-with-hypothesis-to-promote-scientific-discussion-online

We welcome comments and questions from researchers as well as other publishers.

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