Automated publishing: Let's shake up the public research game

By | December 1, 2014

I can't wait for a project like Narrative Science to be combined with a bot that goes around scraping abstracts and research projects, and turning them into pop-sci news on a (not yet existing) automated news outlet. Because that would do something that open journals – and other open research approaches – have failed to do: raising knowledge accessibility by turning complex research into understandable articles.

And if such a portal does become one of the critical criteria in determining how effective publicly funded research is, then perhaps we would also see increased monitoring of these portals to consider comments that average folk like you and me have on all those complex projects and implications – and finally help to bridge the communications gap between the academic world, industry applications, and the general public.

/via +Wayne Radinsky

Narrative Science raises $10M, taking it a step closer to automating this post
Narrative Science, the company that has developed software to automate writing reports based on structured data, has raised an additional $10 million in funding. The round — which brings overall funding to $32 million — was led by USAA, and from existing investors Sapphire Ventures (formerly SAP Ventures), Jump Capital and Battery Ventures. Note that USAA…

3 thoughts on “Automated publishing: Let's shake up the public research game

  1. Wayne Radinsky

    I understand why they do what they do, because scientists are under more pressure than ever to make their work "relevant" to the public, to justify continued funding. But I just find as a practical matter I need to de-hype a lot of press releases in order to get to what was actually discovered or invented.

    Reply
  2. Sophie Wrobel

    +Wayne Radinsky I agree, there's a big lack of people who do have enough scientific background to actually understand what they're writing about, and enough connection to common people to be able to put things in terms that they can understand. And out of that lack, there are a lot of research that slips by undetected. And, to be fair, university press writers don't have the same pull as, say, an editor on phys.org.

    I think there's a fine line of balance between putting enough speculation that a common reader understands the significance of what they're reading about, and not over-hyping… and if software can manage to do that, perhaps it will solve the problem created by the lack of capable writers. After all, software can write articles these days that no one could tell was written by software and not journalists, so… I think it's really quite feasible and would be a great help in connecting the public with science.

    Reply
  3. Wayne Radinsky

    Right now this sort of thing is done by the organization the researchers are affiliated with. For example, if the researchers work for a university, the university might have a press release, and the press release writer will write a press release where they try to make the scientific discovery "relevant to the public." Unfortunately there are a lot of research papers for which no press release is ever written, and even when they do write press releases, they are often really bad (in my humble opinion — but I am not a press release writer, so what do I know?) What I often see them doing is over-hyping the discovery, claiming it will someday lead to some miracle cure for some disease or somesuch. This practice has the dual problem of a) having a press release that makes a lot of speculative claims that the actual researchers never made — the actual researchers usually try to describe what they know and don't know very precisely and aren't prone to wild speculations, and b) all the discussion about what "could" happen "someday" obscures what the scientists actually discovered, which is usually something previously unknown and can be quite interesting in its own right.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.