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UCL students launch Minimanuscript

27 November 2012

A UCL PhD student and an Junior Research Fellow at University College, Oxford have joined forces to launch a radical new website which could transform the student experience of teaching and learning.

The website – Minimanuscript – will include thousands of summarises of research articles, as well as drawing together media coverage and interpretations from Youtube, blogs and other researchers in one place. The site will also enable academics to showcase their own research, and readers to summarise what they’ve read in a similar way to Wikipedia.

Minimanuscript is the brainchild of Jake Fairnie, 25, a PhD student in cognitive neuroscience at UCL and Anna Remington, 30, a Junior Research Fellow at University College, Oxford, who came up with the idea when having to plough through large numbers of research papers when researching their PhD theses. Believing their idea was strong, Jake and Anna approached UCL Advances, UCL’s centre for entrepreneurship, for support in making it a reality. At this year’s UCL Awards for Enterprise, they received a Bright Ideas Award of £7500, more than they originally asked for, because the judges believed Minimanuscript had such promise. More recently, the pair also won a Shell Livewire Award in August 2012, providing free online business advice and funding for young entrepreneurs in the UK.

“The idea is to enable people to never read an irrelevant paper again,” says Jake. “Minimanuscript will enable anyone – undergraduates through to professors – to read summaries of research papers on every conceivable area of research.” The pair already has several academics at Oxford University and UCL in the area of neuroscience primed to provide summaries of their own and other’s research, and plan to aim for 10,000 users in the first six months of operation.

“MiniManuscript promises to become an exceptionally useful freely-available resource for busy students and researchers,” Professor Neil Burgess, Professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience, and Deputy Director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said.

“As an expert in attention, I think it's highly valuable to have a website that encourages people to focus on the relevant information and not to dwell on the irrelevant details,” added Professor Nilli Lavie, Professor of Psychology and Brain Sciences at UCL.

“We are envisaging Minimanuscript to become a community which will grow all the time,” adds Anna. “Users will both read and learn from the summaries and also expand the content of the site by providing their own, as their own reading and research expands.”

To ensure consistent quality, contributors will have to declare their academic status and credentials will be verified manually.

“This is a truly ground-breaking idea,” says Timothy Barnes, Director of UCL Advances. “The potential for growth is phenomenal – as is the impact it will have on academic study not just in the UK, but worldwide.”