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Category: Annotation

Current & Ideal Academic Discourse

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) provides a basic definition of scholarly communication as “the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels, such as electronic listservs.” (2003,

The subject for my work is augmenting scholarly document discourse to increase clarity and credibility in the following document lifecycle:

•  discovering document of relevant and of high quality to read,
•  reading to critically understand,
•  write/enter text to get thoughts cleanly and quickly out of head onto a substrate
•  construct argument to more deeply understand your text
•  cite external & internal material to tie into the web of scholarly discourse and to increase credibility
•  copy-edit document to present a clear and coherent argument
•  review of the work (primarily by supervisors/teachers but also by peers and editors) to increase quality and chance of publication/pass grade
•  publishing credibly (logically presented and correctly cited) and clearly (in a readable and clear format) & archiving to augment the first spoke in the cyclical wheel
•  archive document for future access, also to augment the first spoke in the cyclical wheel



Approaching Ideal Academic Discourse

The subject of my work is not to simply replicate the early generations of digital work where a serious focus was on replicating the capabilities (and, more importantly,) the limitations of the previous media of paper (WYSIWYG to WYSIAYG). The subject of my work is to explore and develop new digital capabilities far above what the previous capabilities of paper publishing would allow.

This will not be linear process. With new technologies come new opportunities, which are often spent on flashy demos which simply aims to sell the technology itself. To find out what truly useful utility the new opportunities offer is an exploration of the new capability space – we can not know how to map the opportunities fully until we explore the territory.

I am therefore a proponent of the facilitated evolution (Engelbart, 2009) model where the human system and the tool system co-evolves through trial and error towards a continuously re-defined and refined future of ever deeper literacies (my term, I did not get a chance to discuss that term with Doug but I have a feeling he would have appreciated it).

This is why I have engaged in dialog with academics to work to uncover how to provide augmentations to remove impediments to the scholarly communications process, to make tasks smoother and thus more likely to be carried out, and by providing advanced functions to go beyond anything we have been able to do before.



Here is the above mapped onto potential future work/features for Author:


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A review of documentation of the XLibris in regard to literature review and annotation, as suggested by Livia Polanyi.



Beyond Paper: Supporting Active Reading with Free Form Digital Ink Annotations by Bill N. Schilit, Gene Golovchinsky, Morgan N. Price at FX Palo Alto Laboratory, Inc.


The system provides a ‘collapsed’ view to only show citation and it also provides a skimming mode view, which is similar to something Doug and I came up with.

Web Description


XLibris Examples



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PDF Reader Concept

Having been struggling with the Literature Review process I came up with this small project, which I may end up implementing, to help with the PDF reading Literature Review process:


Liquid | Reader

pdf reader and annotator for or macOS for PhD Researchers
Use Liquid | Author code and style as the basis for the project, copying as much basic functionality along as is feasible.

Annotating Text

•  Select text to highlight and unless there is an action performed on it within 1 second (such as copy or Liquid | Flow), the selection turns into an annotation automatically, going yellow. The duration can be changed in Preferences.
•  To Undo the annotation simply select the text again and the reverse happens.
•  (second phase of implementation) To add notes to the annotation, the user should simply start typing after selecting the text and a dialog appears, centre of screen, with your typed text, as fast as the system can produce it. Whatever character was typed first will be copied in to the dialog as well, so the experience is seamless. Same visual design box as the Notes dialog in Author.

Finding Annotated text

•  Pinch to collapse the document to only see annotated text. It is similar to the result of pinch in Author, except here there are no Headings, only annotations. In Author, when we implement annotations, the pinch command will show Headings as well as the users annotations.
•  Pinch back to return to normal view
•  Click on text to jump to that section
•  (please give separate costing for this feature) Cmd-f in Annotation view searches the annotations only. Cmd-f in regular view searches document and shows results in the same was as Author

Visual Style

Use code and visual design from Author for this project for the annotation view (show PDF as-is, but use #fdde7e as the yellow for highlighting). The visual style of the text should be the same as default Author style (Read mode) and should have the same option in Preferences to change. The display of the collapsed view showing only annotated text should have “quotes” around it and if the user added text it should be after the selected text, after – such as:

“This is selected text in the document” – And this is the comment the user wrote.

“This is selected text in the document. This quote is quite a bit longer though with more words so we can see what that looks like. Another sentence is here” – And this is the comment the user wrote.

“This is also a bit of selected text but is has no writing from the user after it”

As you can see above, there is an empty line between each entry, just as we have in Author when showing results of keyword search.

Copying Text

(second phase of implementation) Copying text and going into another application will include all the date for Citation, as done for Author from Liquid | Flow now. This means that the document must know what it is, so on opening the user might have to be asked to: “Select the title of this document” so that the system can look up the citation information from Mendely or other service.


(second phase of implementation) On MacOS the annotated text (only) will be made available for Spotlight searching.


Select text and Liquid | Flow can work, since this application will support macOS Services. Other PDF readers do not now.

Other commands: Spacebar on selected text for text to speech.

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