Science is making its way to Tinder, in the form of a brand new app called Papr that invites scientists to swipe to rate life-sciences preprints.

“It’s relatively simple, but it seems to work pretty well,” explained Nick Strayer, a phD student in biostatistics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He and fellow Vanderbilt biostatistician Lucy D’Agostino McGowan added the swipe function and the recommender engine to Papr after a simpler version of the app was launched in October 2016 by Jeff Leek, a biostatistician at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.

Leek has explained in a blog post how the swipe function makes the app “way more interesting”. Users initially see abstracts from bioRxiv preprints, and can swipe their screens in four directions to rate them. These include:

  • Right if the manuscript seems ‘exciting and probable’.
  • Up for ‘exciting questionable’.
  • Down for ‘boring and probable’.
  • Left for ‘boring and questionable’.

As well as this, the app can suggest connections with scientists who like the same preprints, by linking to their Twitter accounts, which could help scientists to meet new collaborators, said Strayer. Currently, 150 people have signed in to use the app, although many more are doing so anonymously, added, McGowan.

The two are considering releasing a leader board of the most popular paper, and also throwing preprints from the ArXiv physical-sciences server into the combination. Another idea is to allow users to click through from the app to read the full article, or even to use the app to identify popular topics in research.

Despite McGowan and Strayer being invited to work with Leek in his lab, for now, they say, they are concentrating on their theses, and see Papr as a side project.