Daily Archives: December 10, 2020
No matter how many months or years authors take to produce a scientific paper, Sabine Louët needs only a few seconds to generate a coherent 300-word summary of it. But she leaves the thinking to an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that statistically analyses the text, identifies meaningful words and phrases, and pieces it all together into a crisp, readable chunk.
“We’re trying to tell a story, and we want to make it as digestible as possible,” says Louët, chief executive of SciencePOD, a Dublin-based science communication company.
As the volume of research continues to grow, natural-language processing programs that can rapidly sort and summarize scientific papers have become an increasingly important tool for scientific publishers and researchers alike, says Markus Kaindl, senior manager for data development at Springer Nature, which publishes Nature Index. (Nature Index is editorially independent of its publisher.)
He points to the roughly 2,000 papers published on COVID-19 each week, enough to overwhelm anyone trying to stay on top of the field. “It’s like an ocean of content, and it feels like our users are close to drowning,” he says. “We need to help them surf that wave instead.”
AI can help identify the papers most suited to a particular user’s needs. For example, Semantic Scholar, developed by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle, Washington, goes beyond keywords to rank the most relevant papers for any query. “It’s a brilliant platform because it really tries to understand what the publications are about,” Kaindl says. Springer Nature expects to go further by offering personalized summaries and search results. “If you are a senior career researcher, a postdoc or a principal investigator, your needs from a paper or a chapter may be very different from someone at an earlier career stage,” he says.
The company has engaged SciencePOD and others to explore the use of AI to enhance content appeal and accessibility. “AI can really help us as science publishers, by summarizing information, translating it for wider audiences and increasing the impact,” says Kaindl.