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Web Crawling in Scientific Research


Scientific World – Before the Era of Web Crawling

Evolution is possible only when there is integration both in our physical distance and in our purpose. Today, we tend to ping our colleagues through the social network, whose desks are 10 feet away. If we go back not more than 150 years, this was not the same. Back then, building a fast and healthy communication system across the planet was a virtual concept. The entire progress of our civilization suffered from this.

The Scientific world was not an exception to this truth. It did not bar the progress of the science completely, just made it slow. In different disconnected pockets across the world, scientists were pursuing their knowledge hunt, but, without any sort of communication from the other parts of this planet, which could have saved a sizeable amount of their time and resources, even their failure.

What was needed, back then, was not the heavy amount of idle information but the continuous flow of it. So, communication or the exchange of information was the only solution but the world lacked the bliss of a search engine or a scientific way of information retrieval from a global data bank or web crawling technology as there was no ‘world wide web’.

Today, we are using technologies like, web crawling, web scraping and data mining to predict and design the future of every parameter integrated with our lives as there is a common and open source of data, where a continuous data crawling and data indexing is going on to make every new update searchable. Even today, Google gets some pretty weird search phrase like “how to use a screwdriver?”.

Insane. Right?

It is, as you know how to use a screwdriver and that’s not a big deal to you, but it is a big deal to that person who doesn’t know it. Probably, you would have done the same for rocket science as we know that there is a definite answer to our every quest on the world wide web and someone has published an answer on it. So, gaining knowledge by harnessing information and global connectivity are just the two opposite faces of the same coin. Admittedly, it is the bottom line of requirements for the advancement of science.

The present – World is Crawling the Web

The basic purpose of any type of communication is to build a strong flow of information and the present growth of the scientific world hinges on easy and quick availability of information. The speed of information retrieval and authenticity of the same are the two most powerful weapons current scientists have. Still, there are loopholes. Important factors like locating the true source for authentic information, availability of critical information at the right moment for an ongoing research and other ancillaries are still falling behind.

According to the modern economists, both the ever-evolving global economics and the growing competition between the nations are pushing our scientific world to new discoveries. It seems, everyone dreams to stay at the cutting edge in this parade of scientific breakthroughs and they are leaving no stone unturned to achieve it.

Role of Web Crawling in Future Scientific Research

Statistically, around 35 percent of all scientific research papers published nowadays, have an active international collaboration. 15 years back, the volume of the same was less than the half of its current size. From the very start of this century, digital version of more than 11 million scientific research papers became available and that became the holy bible for budding scientists and they branded this trend with a new name, ‘networked science’.

The whole idea behind this was, no scientific document should not be buried deep enough that the world wide web can not touch, crawl, and index for the future. New dedicated data banks have emerged to collect and store these published documents and research papers. Moreover, the web is carrying more than 1.5 million data sets like books, presentations, videos and research and development entities are e-marketing these polished diamonds to other organizations. Scientists from every corner of this planet are leveraging these documents and pushing themselves to online forums and debates to deliver new discoveries.

According to the scientists, for getting bigger breakthroughs to feed the growing demand of this human society and to build a smarter future, “the future of scientific research depends on sifting through more information, more quickly, and more effectively. For a researcher to expect to be able to search 1,000 databases simultaneously for critical information is not unreasonable.”

Admittedly, all these depend upon harnessing right information at the right time and without web crawling this can be anything but a reality.

If we look into the matter a bit deep then we can find that, this evolution of web crawling is the heart of any modern search engine with which our every quest for wisdom starts. Technically, web crawlers are programs or automated scripts which browse the world wide web in a methodical manner for the purpose of web indexing and that is nothing but a storehouse of web addresses with their relevant data.

Through this web crawling process scientists across the globe can harness the dedicated information, they need from the world wide web. Firstly, harnessing information from large data sets that float on the web, are not possible manually, but a scientific discovery solely depends on the availability of the critical information which decides the future direction of an on-going research and the future of it.

In this age of big data, every research, regarding any particular discipline starts with analyzing available dedicated data. The chief aim is to chew that data and get the necessary insight from the same and this is the main reason behind the rise of web crawling services. DaaS or Data as a Service is a well-established market trend today and they are serving every sector of this society, from marketing to the film industry to scientific research.

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