Summarised science boosts business and democracy

We’ve all seen the unfortunate stereotype of the mad scientist, toiling away in his secret lab in his white coat. But most of us also know that scientists are neither crazy, nor do they crave secrecy.

by Endre Szvetnik, Senior Editor at Sparrho

Mad scientist?

Mad scientists?! Quite the opposite! Researchers want people to know about their discoveries and how these can improve society, but these achievements often get obscured in the noise of all the other news we receive.

Let’s consider this from the perspective of the ordinary citizen or an innovative business, who want to apply science to solve problems around them.

Information overload

We’re experiencing a phenomenal growth in published scientific research papers — over 2 million per year — such that it is increasingly difficult to dig out relevant information.

Even when you find a paper with a title and abstract that seems interesting, if you don’t already have a subscription, you’d still have to pay to read the entire text to figure out if you really needed it in the first place.

With so much research being financed by taxpayers’ money, we couldn’t blame you if you were not so keen on this ‘pay-to-find-out’ idea. You might even say that science is in fact undemocratic.

The latest reports estimate that 1.72% of global GDP — equivalent to US$2.2 trillion — will be spent on R&D in 2018 alone. How can we better capture that expenditure in real benefits for our economy and society?

1.72% of global GDP — equivalent to US$2.2 trillion — will be spent on R&D in 2018.

Experts required — to build trust and help make sense of science

We believe the key ingredient is trust. How can you know for sure that the paper you’re looking at is not some esoteric study, but belongs to an established field and builds on previous achievements?

And while witnessing all this technological and scientific progress, how can you make sense of research to make confident business or personal choices, when you’re surrounded by documents with often impenetrable language?

You need the experts’ help to classify and explain research in your language.

This is a pressing need for better communication of science between specialists and non-specialists. Did you know that of the 51.6 million people working in the science and R&D industry, only 8–10 million are scientists?

Of the 51.6 million people working in the science and R&D industry, only 8–10 million are scientists.

Aggregating, curating and summarising — the way to make science democratic

As you know, Sparrho offers an online tool for anybody interested in science to discover cutting-edge research. But we’re just at the beginning of laying down our three pillars for the democratisation of science…

For our first pillar, we aggregate — this means pulling in the world’s scientific publications all in one place.

Our machine learning engine sifts through the major scientific journals to create an easily searchable database — and not stopping there, Sparrho learns what users look for and recommends them similar papers.

Our users are then able to do what human experts do best: connect the dots and organise pieces of research from different journals and disciplines into relevant collections, or pinboards, as we call them. This is how our community becomes curators, picking out the latest and the most relevant discoveries in their field.

This curationis our second crucial pillar, as some people can already understand scientific papers and only need the latest and most relevant material to be collected for them.

But there are more and more citizens and businesses who use science discoveries to inform their decisions — if they can understand them.

This is why we encourage our curators to become experts who summarise the science into easy-to-understand, jargon-free digests, forming the third pillar of our vision, and connecting the world of science with society.

And how does the researcher benefit?

Sparrho’s platform is unique in offering aggregation, curation and summarisation all in one place.

New on the homepage — trending pinboards

As the demand for expert opinion increases, our curators will become a new class of trusted science communicators with added visibility and opportunities to work with industry through our platform.

New on the homepage — highlighted curators

We’ve refreshed our homepage to better highlight the solutions we offer to organisations and showcase our curators and their work to the world through trending pinboards, digests and profiles.

As with previous refreshes, our platforms works in the same way for current users, with all the great features available — like followed searches and recommended content.

By highlighting and building on the three pillars of Sparrho — aggregation, curation and summarisation — we get one step closer to our goal to make science democratic, trusted and supported by society.