Digital Notebooks for Enhanced Accessibility to Scientific Research

An application that uses optical character recognition to create an editable copy of a physical or digital paper to help researchers continually improve upon a paper’s accessibility by providing them with the tools to make sketches, expound upon text and jot down their insights.

Researchers often make notes on the papers they read only to have them usually discarded later on with no real means of centralising their insights for other researchers to gain deeper understanding from which in turn hinders the levels of productivity when reviewing the literature.

The scope of this project is to create an open-source platform that will enable researchers to better annotate and organise their notes and insights through a collaborative, centralised platform. The platform uses optical character recognition to create an editable copy of a physical or digital paper: making the process of discovery more amenable by providing the researcher with the tools to elucidate understanding by sketching diagrams and explicating sections of a given article with comments and examples to further highlight applications. The users’ comments/sketches would be viewable by other users’ of the application (after a vetting process) for further scrutiny.

The platform would nudge users to continually improve upon an article’s accessibility in a synergistic way: users would be able to overcome hindrances, such as not being able to access definitions referenced from another paper because, say, it was stuck behind a paywall.

Moreover, this improves upon the communication of results in a way that can ultimately filter down to non-scientific audiences. By providing researchers with the tools for saving and expounding upon insights, that would have otherwise been discarded, opens up new vistas for science communication. We currently live in a time where issues, such as climate change and vaccines, are poorly understood. Partly, because we lack the tools and resources to make to compelling and convincing arguments to a wider audience. Thus, this platform would provide much needed guidance by gathering researchers to a central space and equipping them with the tools to better organise and disseminate their results in a way that is less prohibitive and more productive.

Image courtesy of Dominic Mills-Howell


Group Leader

Dominic Mills-Howell, Lindau Alumnus 2019
RealDecoy Global Services, Jamaica