Hypothesis Descriptions welcome at Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO journal)

14 February 2024

Hypothesis Description is the latest type of research outcome to join the ranks of publications accepted at the open-science journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO). The new article type is meant to facilitate the study of hypotheses from any scientific domain in and of themselves. The aim is to improve their testability, and to stimulate efforts towards standardisation and automation.

While valuable hypotheses can arise at any step in a research cycle or even beyond, few of these steps are traditionally published on their own, thereby impeding the reach of the associated hypotheses, founding Editor-in-Chief Dr. Daniel Mietchen and his colleagues Prof. Dr. Jonathan M. Jeschke and Dr. Tina Heger explained in a recent editorial. In the meantime, the very purpose of the RIO journal is to communicate the research process all along the research cycle and facilitate engagement with it. 

“Those hypotheses that were never communicated will essentially be forgotten, though any one of them might well be conceived independently by others,” the team points out.

By using a predefined structure, outlined in detail in a separate paper meant to serve as a starting point, the Hypothesis Description format combines a specific verbal definition of a hypothesis and a concise description of its components. These articles also need to point to prior work and align with formal ways of knowledge representation, in order to provide the necessary context and accessibility to both human and machine readers.

Currently, there is no Hypothesis Description manuscript type available from the submission interface at RIO. Instead, until the hypothesis-related workflows are refined, this scientific output is to be published as a Research Idea, whereas the authors can update its structure following the above-mentioned template.

Authors of Hypothesis Descriptions may also choose to add relevant nanopublications by using the nanopublication workflows available at RIO to further boost the formalisation and machine-readability of their scientific contributions.

Along with the introductory editorial and the Hypothesis Description template, the team also published their own Hypothesis Description paper to demonstrate the novel format in practice.

There, the team took to the field of ecology to describe the Enemy Release Hypothesis: a major and long-standing hypothesis in invasion biology, for which, however, there have been various textual definitions used in scientific papers over time. So, the purpose of the Hypothesis Description in this case is to bring those existing definitions together with a formalised representation of hypothesis variants, in order to enhance the accuracy of scientific discussions around the respective hypothesis from now on.

“Such a detailed definition of a hypothesis can be especially powerful when combined with the use of a controlled vocabulary, because this allows linking the used terms to definitions, while at the same time enhancing machine-actionability,” the team points out.


To follow the latest publications, news and highlights from RIO, we invite you to subscribe for the journal’s newsletter by using the Email alert field on this website’s homepage, and follow the journal on X (formerly Twitter)FacebookLinkedin and Mastodon.

This website uses cookies in order to improve your web experience. Read our Cookies Policy