So, in the spirit of #scio13  (I'm currently in the session about G+) , here's an email I sent a contact at Google - not sure if it ended up in the right person's inbox... but if you think it's a good idea, why don't you all share it and see if we can get their attention? H

Here’s the idea I’ve had – would be most grateful if you could pass this on to the relevant product team(s) in Google...


There's a huge debate in the science communications world as to whether journalists should link to primary research papers from science stories that are based on such papers. Although the majority of the primary audience of these stories – the lay public – largely don’t care about this, there is a small but important audience of scientifically/medically literate people who would benefit hugely from this. There’s a great article about this here:

My idea:

Google News currently aggregates all news stories on a particular topic. 

Google Scholar lists primary research papers. 

Given this - would it be technically possible for aggregated news stories somehow to be ‘scanned’ or searched for certain keywords or phrases, and then a link be made between the aggregate page on Google News, and the relevant entry on Google Scholar? This would allow users to see the story on News and then visit the research underpinning it via Scholar. I suspect most news stories would list the primary author, the institute, and most relevant keyword... it couldn’t be too hard for Google to do this. Alternatively, the link could be ‘crowdsourced’ from the wider community, and the system could ‘learn’ from this over time (I’d envisage a button on each news story on Google News saying ‘Which scientific paper’s this from? Link me up!’ or similar)

An example:

Recently, on one day, about 143 stories (according to Google news) appeared stating that “Soft drinks increased the risk of prostate cancer by 40 per cent”. 

 Here’s the aggregate page on Google News:
(edit: this link doesn't work any more) 

Almost all of these stories contain the lead author name (Drake), the year (2012), the institute (Lund) the journal (American Journal of Nutrition) and the words “soft drink” and “prostate cancer”. 

Searching Google Scholar for “Drake Lund prostate cancer 2012 soft drinks American Journal of Nutrition” gives the top result as:

Dietary intakes of carbohydrates in relation to prostate cancer risk: a prospective study in the Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort

I Drake, E Sonestedt, B Gullberg… - The American journal …, 2012 - Am Soc Nutrition

See! It works. 

I appreciate this is probably spectacularly naive but I thought I’d attempt to plant the seed of the idea with you guys and see if it grows... Happy to elaborate or discuss further with anyone at Google – details below,


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