Two young London-based cognitive neuroscientists claim that they have managed to get the academic world working together for the first time.
Jake Fairnie, 25, a PhD student from University College London (UCL) and Dr Anna Remington, 30, a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford have launched MiniManuscript.com, an online platform designed to make it easier for students and academics to work together to summarise research papers.
Touted as the only openly-editable database of article summaries, MiniManuscript.com reportedly makes it very easy for a large amount of literature to be covered in a short space of time. Users can post, read and discuss condensed versions of scientific publications and view related online content – such as YouTube videos and podcasts. Students and academics can use it to examine a large amount of literature very quickly, thus freeing up valuable time to increase the pace of scientific discovery.
Jake Fairnie and Dr Anna Remington, the site’s creators, say they’ve succeeded in creating a “worldwide academic superbrain” that uses “a collaborative approach to reading papers so that users can pool their resources, increase efficiency and free up valuable time for the finer things in life, like data collection (or Facebook).”
According to MiniManuscript co-founder Jake Fairnie, the website will operate on a Wikipedia style model. “Users can contribute as well as freely access summaries of published articles. Plus there are links to such related media content as YouTube videos and podcasts. There are no plans to charge users for the basic service – but as a business we do believe we could one day be a unique universe of influence.”
Along with the MiniManuscript summaries and the sharing of multimedia content related to the articles, there are also discussion threads and it’s all designed to “bring the literature to life for those who may prefer a less text-heavy learning route,” says Fairnie.
Co-founder Anna Remington, explains: “As Jake and I work in a similar area of research we quickly realised we were reading a lot of the same literature. So we created a shared document where we’d write short outlines of research papers. We covered the material in half the time. We thought: this should happen on a global scale.”
MiniManuscript.com appears to have taken some sections of the academic world by storm. They believe it will help hundreds of thousands of students and academics worldwide more easily understand complex technical research documents.
The site recently won the University of London’s UCL Bright Ideas Award (2012). The awards offer financial support for good business ideas created by UCL students and alumni. The judges were so impressed with the website they awarded Fairnie and Remington an extra £1,500 in addition to their actual prize of £6,000 because, according to Timothy Barnes, Director of Enterprise Operations at UCL, they “didn’t ask for enough!” The site also won the 2012 Shell Livewire Grand Ideas Award.
“This is a truly ground-breaking idea. The potential for growth is phenomenal – as is the impact it will have on academic study not just in the UK, but worldwide,” said Timothy Barnes, Director, UCL Advances.
Glyn Humphreys, Professor of Experimental Psychology and Head of Department, Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford said, “I think this would be an invaluable tool for researchers and students alike – even helping to structure how we think about research.”
Shelly Channon, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology, UC noted, “This is an innovative idea… The potential for users to interact with the system, effectively giving a quality rating and interactive commentary for each MiniManuscript summary, will be particularly valuable once there is a critical mass of users and readers. Whilst there is no substitute for reading original papers, this tool will help researchers to focus their efforts on the most relevant material.”
BFS Robot can Read 250 pages a minute
The Ishikawa Oku Laboratory at the University of Tokyo has developed a new high-speed book scanning robot called the BFS-Auto that can digitize a book into original media format at the rate of an amazing 250 pages a minute! It uses a fully-automated page flipper, recognizes the content in 3D real-time and ensures high-accuracy restoration to a flat document image.
According to the developers, the system “continuously observes 3D deformation of each flipped page at 500 times per second, and recognizes the best moment for book image digitization at the highest quality.” The technology can also detect an image which has been distorted by page curling and restore the captured image to a flat original document image.