Innovation: eLife challenges Hack24 participants to transform research communication with technology

In March, eLife sponsored Hack24, a 24-hour hackathon in Nottingham, UK, involving 150 participants.
Inside eLife
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eLife challenge: Transform research communication with technology

Cutting-edge research is stuck in the past. Research publication, whilst the ultimate currency for researchers, does not typically enable them to show their workings in full. In addition, the traditional incentives to publish research discoveries offer few rewards for researchers who work collaboratively and transparently. This makes it hard to reproduce and build on results as a community, which should be the foundation for the best science. Further, much of science remains inaccessible to the wider public, making it difficult for citizens to make evidence-based decisions.

At eLife, we are looking for new tools or technologies that improve how scientists and the public interact with cutting-edge research. The opportunity is ripe for tools and processes used in the software and technology industries to be applied to science to help improve the discovery, sharing, consumption, and evaluation of research. For example, could StackOverflow inspire a new platform for researchers to share their work and gain credibility? Could artificial intelligence help researchers discover recent findings and foresee where the next big discovery may lie? Could a chatbot become the perfect research assistant? Could publishers better serve authors during peer review by mimicking the way that Domino’s Pizza lets you track how your pizza is cooking?

At Hack24, we will be looking for projects that improve research communication using new technologies. To help, details of the eLife application programming interface (API) and other open-source tools are listed at Hackers are welcome to build on other available APIs and be imaginative with the services they integrate into their hack. Inspiring entries from a previous hackathon are showcased at eLife Labs.

The best hacks will:

  • Improve how life sciences 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 Raspberry Pi Model 3 bundled with a GrovePi+ IoT Starter Kit.

The prize entries will be judged by Naomi Penfold, eLife’s Innovation Officer. With a background in life sciences research, Naomi brings to Hack24 an appreciation of how researchers work and the problems they face that technology could help solve. 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.

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 online-only, open-access eLife journal for outstanding advances in life sciences 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.