Introducing web-based annotation to neuroscience

By memartone | 29 September, 2015

For as long as we have produced scholarly works, we have annotated them.  From scribbles in the margin, to underlines and highlights, to learned commentary providing additional information, academics routinely add knowledge to scholarly output.  But scholarly works are no longer in scrolls or even on paper, they are on web pages.  So shouldn’t our annotations be too?  With, Hypothesis you can annotate any web article, e.g., journal articles, including PDF’s, news stories or even Wikipedia entries, as you read them.

A simple way to add, communicate and link knowledge on the web can potentially transform neuroscience, which by its nature, has to link and integrate information across many different disciplines. Neuroscience information is published in millions of articles, read by thousands of individuals every day.  Hypothesis changes the paradigm of the static article by allowing users to add their annotations directly to these articles as an interactive overlay.  With Hypothesis, you can add commentary, additional information, links or images to specific statements in the text. Annotations can be private or publica.  And, because they are interactive, focused, threaded conversations can begin from there.

To get started, simply install our browser plug-in or paste a link to a page you want to annotate at our homepage.

Hypothesis is collaborating with the scientific community to incorporate on-line annotation into research practice.  We are working with journals and publishers to make annotation part of pre-publication peer review. Scientists are using Hypothesis for targeted tasks like extract imaging parameters from published papers. With the Neuroscience Information Framework, we are improving identification of research resources in the literature and linking them to additional information.  

Hypothesis is a great tool for journal clubs, lab meetings or the classroom for discussing articles at a fine level of detail with students and colleagues.  You can use Hypothesis to add value and impact to your own work by creating lay summaries of your abstracts in Pub Med or Pub Med Central. I’ve enjoyed going back and re-reading some of my old articles and providing additional backstories and updated content.  

Hypothesis also presents the opportunity for scientists to engage not just with their colleagues, but with educators, students and the general public to improve science communication and literacy. We are partnering with the Science in the Classroom program to use annotations to make the content of Science articles understandable to students. These annotations provide definitions for key concepts and provide links to additional learning resources. A group of climate scientists are using Hypothesis to fact check and provide public feedback on news articles about climate change.  

To introduce the neuroscience community to the potential of on-line annotation, we are partnering with the Neuroscience Information Framework to encourage neuroscientists to share their knowledge and improve research through open annotation.  As an added incentive, if you are attending the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago, you can annotate for the chance to win an Apple Watch.  Simply use Hypothesis to annotate neuroscience content on the web, register for the contest and stop at the at the Neuroscience Information Framework booth, #2115, in Chicago. #yAnnotate

But whether you use Hypothesis to share your knowledge with the world, conveniently take private notes on the web or interact with your favorite colleagues, we want you to give Hypothesis a try.  And we’d love to hear from you when you do.


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