CZI Funds Hypothesis and bioRxiv ReviewR Project

By dwhly | 8 November, 2022

Today we’re announcing new funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) that will expand our partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and further extend the Hypothesis platform at bioRxiv and medRxiv. In a project called “ReviewR,” CSHL and Hypothesis will collaborate on further extensions to the Hypothesis platform to enable the biomedical community to comment and give feedback on preprints, providing authors of research studies the invaluable benefit of getting feedback on their work before it’s formally published.

The funding is part of a larger $6.1M grant that Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) announced today, supporting preprint services bioRxiv and medRxiv, which have become critical infrastructure for the scientific community, particularly during the COVID pandemic. The funds will support the expansion of the service’s operations until 2024, and underwrite the ReviewR initiative.

Begun nearly a decade ago, bioRxiv is a free, open service that shares biomedical research results as preprints prior to formal publication — as a way to “assist and accelerate the research community’s rapid dissemination and discussion of new scientific results,” according to the CSHL website. This not only embodies the idea we are always stressing, which is that annotation makes reading active, visible and social, it represents the changing landscape of scholarly publication — as it transitions from cloistered work to what we think of as collaborative scholarship.

In 2017, bioRxiv first selected Hypothesis’ open-source annotation framework for early efforts. We deepened our partnership in 2019 as part of CSHL’s Transparent Review in Preprints (TRiP) project, powered by Hypothesis as a way to allow participating organizations to post peer reviews in dedicated Hypothesis groups alongside relevant preprints on the bioRxiv website. Through this time, bioRxiv has maintained its original commenting system alongside the Hypothesis platform.

This latest initiative will focus on “ReviewR” — a new review, assessment and discussion platform for preprints. bioRxiv will create a preprint engagement platform by way of Hypothesis that will support public peer review by traditional and overlay journals, commentary and other new initiatives in the assessment, evaluation, and review of preprints. Using Hypothesis to enable a layer of scholarly discourse over preprints is a way that open collaborative annotation can advance human health.

This announcement follows a recent $14M round of funding, including a $2.5M investment from ITHAKA, the nonprofit provider of JSTOR. Funding such as this helps scale Hypothesis and bring us closer to realizing our mission of providing a conversation layer over all knowledge.

“There is rapidly growing interest in the public evaluation of preprints,” said John Inglis, cofounder of bioRxiv and medRxiv. “Hypothesis technology already underpins our Transparent Review in Preprints (TRiP) project, enabling peer reviews to be displayed on thousands of bioRxiv and medRxiv preprints. We are excited to be working with the Hypothesis team again, to conceive new approaches to commenting and author feedback around preprints.”

Dan Whaley, Hypothesis’ founder, said, “The promise of an open, interoperable conversation layer for feedback, review, community and more over the literature is profound. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with the team at bioRxiv to meet the needs of their community.”

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education to addressing the needs of our communities. Their mission is “to help build a more inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone.” For more information, visit CZI has championed this important work for several years, having helped fund bioRxiv since 2017 and medRxiv since 2020.

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