Thursday, August 09, 2012

Wow - Google Scholar "Updates" a big step forward in sifting through the scientific literature

I logged on to Google Scholar a few minutes ago and discovered something very new

This "updates" thing was not there earlier in the day.  So I clicked on the link and got to this page: Scholar Updates: Making New Connections - Google Scholar Blog where James Connor from Google reports
Since Google Scholar launched nearly eight years ago, we’ve been helping people find the research they’re looking for.  But often the spark for discovery comes from making a new connection or looking in a direction that you hadn’t yet considered and that -- before your aha! moment -- you wouldn’t have known to look for.  Today we hope to start fostering these new connections with Scholar Updates. 
We analyze your articles (as identified in your Scholar profile), scan the entire web looking for new articles relevant to your research, and then show you the most relevant articles when you visit Scholar.  We determine relevance using a statistical model that incorporates what your work is about, the citation graph between articles, the fact that interests can change over time, and the authors you work with and cite.  You don’t need to configure updates or enter any queries.  We’ll notify you about new updates by displaying a preview on the homepage and highlighting a bell icon on search results pages: ...
To get article updates relevant to your work, all you need to do is create a public Scholar profile. Article updates will automatically start to appear within a few days. 
Wow.  Completely awesome if it works well.  So, well, let's see if it works well.  For me the system recommends the following

Both have some relevance to me.  The first one is about evolution of a gene family and has a line in the abstract that clearly might have driven the automated suggestion: "Here, we characterize the phylogenomic distribution of the uniporter’s membrane-spanning pore subunit (MCU) and regulatory partner (MICU1)." But, well, I am not too interested in this paper.  Not really my thing.

But paper number 2 seems a bit closer to my heart: REGEN: Ancestral Genome Reconstruction for Bacteria.  And bonus - it is freely available.  And so, well, I read over it.  And it is definitely related to what I do and I probably would not have seen it without this notification.  Cool.

So I give Scholar Updates a 1.5 / 2 score which translates to a 7.5 out of 10.  Not bad.  But could be better.  So I clicked on the "See all Updates" link to see what else was there.  And this was a pleasant surprise.  Here is what I got (showing the first page).

50 papers in all with the "Top" selection selected at the top of the page.  And some even come with a comment like Cites A phylogeny-driven genomic encyclopaedia of Bacteria and Archaea or 

The first 25 of the papers are listed below:
  1. Defining the human microbiome
  2. Measures of phylogenetic differentiation provide robust and complementary insights into microbial communities
  3. VIROME: a standard operating procedure for analysis of viral metagenome sequences
  4. Complete Genome Sequence of Paenibacillus strain Y4. 12MC10, a Novel Paenibacillus lautus strain Isolated from Obsidian Hot Spring in Yellowstone National Park
  5. Phylogenetic stratigraphy in the Guerrero Negro hypersaline microbial mat
  6. Non-contiguous finished genome sequence and description of Clostridium senegalense sp. nov.
  7. Non contiguous-finished genome sequence and description of Bacillus timonensis sp. nov.
  8. Complete genome sequence of Pyrobaculum oguniense
  9. Complete genome sequence of the moderately thermophilic mineral-sulfide-oxidizing firmicute Sulfobacillus acidophilus type strain (NALT)
  10. The Metadata Coverage Index (MCI): A standardized metric for quantifying database metadata richness
  11. Complete genome sequence of the aromatic-degrading deep-terrestrial-subsurface alphaproteobacterium Novosphingobium aromaticivorans type strain (F199 T), …
  12. Complete genome sequence of Thauera aminoaromatica strain MZ1T
  13. Non-contiguous finished genome sequence and description of Anaerococcus vaginalis
  14. Non-contiguous finished genome sequence and description of Alistipes senegalensis sp. nov.
  15. Metabolic potential of a single cell belonging to one of the most abundant lineages in freshwater bacterioplankton
  16. Predicting kinase-substrate interactions in the era of proteomics
  17. REGEN: Ancestral Genome Reconstruction for Bacteria
  18. Targeted recovery of novel phylogenetic diversity from next-generation sequence data
  19. A call for an international network of genomic observatories (GOs)
  20. Large and linked in scientific publishing
  21. The Biological Observation Matrix (BIOM) format or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the ome-ome
  22. Evaluation of methods to concentrate and purify ocean virus communities through comparative, replicated metagenomics
  23. Ultrafast clustering algorithms for metagenomic sequence analysis
  24. IMG/M-HMP: A Metagenome Comparative Analysis System for the Human Microbiome Project
  25. Microbiomes
  26. Metagenomic analysis of hadopelagic microbial assemblages thriving at the deepest part of Mediterranean Sea, Matapan‐Vavilov Deep
  27. Distance-Decay diversity patterns of phyllosphere bacteria on Tamarisk trees across the Sonoran Desert
  28. Exposure of Soil Microbial Communities to Chromium and Arsenic Alters Their Diversity and Structure
  29. Reconstruction of Ribosomal RNA Genes from Metagenomic Data
  30. Genome Sequence of the Unclassified Marine Gammaproteobacterium BDW918
  31. Surprising results on phylogenetic tree building methods based on molecular sequences
  32. Road map of the phylum Actinobacteria
  33. Building non-coding RNA families
  34. Bacterial assemblages of the eastern Atlantic Ocean reveal both vertical and latitudinal biogeographic signatures
  35. Metagenomic microbial community profiling using unique clade-specific marker genes
  36. Unlocking the potential of metagenomics through replicated experimental design
  37. Coordinating Environmental Genomics and Geochemistry Reveals Metabolic Transitions in a Hot Spring Ecosystem
  38. Minimizing the average distance to a closest leaf in a phylogenetic tree
  39. Parallel-META: efficient metagenomic data analysis based on high-performance computation
  40. Complete genome sequence of Dehalogenimonas lykanthroporepellens type strain (BL-DC-9T) and comparison to “Dehalococcoides” strains
  41. Complete genome sequence of the orange-red pigmented, radioresistant Deinococcus proteolyticus type strain (MRPT)
  42. Genome sequence of the ocean sediment bacterium Saccharomonospora marina type strain (XMU15T
  43. Genome sequence of the soil bacterium Saccharomonospora azurea type strain (NA-128T)
  44. Evolutionary Diversity of the Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter
  45. Phylogenetic Clustering Reveals Selective Events Driving the Turnover of Bacterial Community in Alpine Tundra Soils
  46. A comparative evaluation of sequence classification programs
  47. Complete genome sequence of the facultatively anaerobic, appendaged bacterium Muricauda ruestringensis type strain (B1T)
  48. Complete genome sequence of the termite hindgut bacterium Spirochaeta coccoides type strain (SPN1T), reclassification in the genus Sphaerochaeta as …
  49. Complete genome sequence of the aquatic bacterium Runella slithyformis type strain (LSU 4T)
  50. Permanent draft genome sequence of the gliding predator Saprospira grandis strain Sa g1 (= HR1)
And well, I'll be damned.  I kind of want to read almost all of them.  Son based on the top 50 I would give Scholar Updates a score of something like 47/50 or 9.4 / 10.  Many have complained about the limited developments in Google Scholar over the years but this is definitely a nice development.  I hope it means Google will be putting more effort into other developments.

Now - off to read some papers.  And if you do not have a Google Scholar page - you should definitely think about making one now as this is how you open up this feature.

UPDATE 1 8/9 1:45 AM

Just noticed that now in the top of the page when I go to Google Scholar there is also now a link to "Updates"

UPDATE 2: 8/9 10 AM - Some other posts about this
UPDATE 3: 8/9 10 AM - Other stuff from around the web about this


  1. Wow cool thanks for sharing...

  2. Looks awesome. Thanks for the heads-up! I haven't made a Google scholar profile yet, but will go make one now!

  3. This looks great! Thanks for the heads up!

  4. It may also be disruptive in the scholarly pub area. This downplays the role of journals (a good thing IMO) in favour of what the reader wants. It is also independent of publishers (whose motivation is to point to their "products" rather than the most appropriate). My main reservation is that we are putting so much reliance on one supplier rather than building our own systems. But of course Google can "do no evil" so that's OK.

  5. Sorry - the last was from Peter Murray-Rust - I failed to work the comment mechanism

  6. For me it is very sad. I spent 3 months building this exact product. RIP Paper Funnel.

  7. Aaarrggghhhhh!!! A shitload of papers I should have known about...

  8. wow. This is a great feature. I wonder if it's possible to hack it a bit to recommend related papers from any collection papers - e.g. a Mendeley collection.

    1. playing around with this as I type ... main issue is that you need a scholar account. So I think the only way to do this is to either set up a fake account somehow or to add various publications to your own list of papers and trick the system ...

  9. Ddin't work so well for me -- seems it looks simply for my most highly cited papers, not necessarily the ones closest to my heart...

    1. Yeah - for me it was not perfect but certainly I am interested in almost everything that came up. Now it is just a question of how we can get google to allow customization ...

  10. Snap. I also discovered this development a few days ago and found one suggested paper of direct relevance - see

  11. Its cool Feature. Google can determine relevance using a statistical model that incorporates what your work is about.


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