Tools for science writing

Writing a scientific research paper is tough at the best of times regardless of funding conditions and political intervention. As such, a scientist will turn to any tool they might find to help with this generally arduous task. Writing in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research, a Brazilian team has surveyed common tools and determined which tools have what useful features. Their summary points to the possibility of designing a new system for helping in the writing of scientific papers that has the pros of the best tools and none of the cons of the worst.

For Ralf Landim Reith, José Dutra de Oliveira Neto and Anderson de Andrade Santos of the University of São Paulo, as with most academic researchers, the scientific endeavour is a “publish or perish” environment. Researchers must maintain records of their hypotheses, experiments, results and their theories and interpretations. And periodically, they must pull this information together into a cogent, coherent and cohesive form that can be disseminated via conference poster, lecture and ultimately published paper. The ultimate aim to record the progress of their research endeavours so that they might be peer-reviewed and otherwise validated against other findings in their field.

There is also, of course, the business side of science. “The importance of scientific articles in the dissemination of research findings and results is unquestionable,” the team says. “Besides disseminating the findings, scientific papers play a key role in the distribution of funding and scholarships for research projects, where the number of publications is used as a quality index by various funding agencies.”

The team has investigated the benefits and limitations of software in terms of brainstorming, organisation of ideas, database of examples, schematic structure models, automatic identification of structure, automatic review of structure, indication of rhetorical strategies and the basis of writing standards. The tools include the likes of “Abstract Helper”, “AntMover”, “AMADEUS”, and “SciPo-Pharmacy”, indeed, most available tools are for abstracting rather than paper structure. Those that were useful for organising and brainstorming date back to the 1990s and are often incompatible with modern personal computers and so little used. Nevertheless, all the types of software assessed has had a place in the scientific writing process and features of even the most archaic and mundane might be useful in the modern context of the web, social media, digital journals and such.

The team points out that there is currently an almost complete lack of support for scientific writing, particularly in highly specialised areas such as production engineering. The study points to a significant gap in the “market” representing a need that might be fulfilled by a software company or the community itself with the requisite skills to create open source tools.

 

Reith, R.L., de Oliveira Neto, J.D. and de Andrade Santos, A. (2017) ‘Support tools to assist scientific writing: assessment of key features to construct a system for production engineering’, Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.353-362.

What’s gonna drive you home?

Popular music is jam-packed with classic songs about cars, racing engines, heading down the highway, backseat romance at the drive-in, and simply feeling safe in one’s car. The list is long, but, with the advent of the self-driving, autonomous, car will we see an emerging generation of songwriters crooning about these digitised vehicles with their fuel cells, silent motors and blocked up ashtrays? Will the list of songs about such cars be inexhaustive?

Erik Olson of the BI Norwegian Business School, in Oslo, Norway, discusses the implications of self-driving vehicle technology on consumer brand equity and relationships in the International Journal of Technology Marketing.

“The freedom, fun, status, and utility that the automobile provides consumers have made it one of the most widely adopted and loved products of all time, and this emotional attachment is reflected in the popular song lyrics” explains Olson. From The Beach Boys singing about drag racing their little Deuce Coupe to Janis Joplin beseeching The Lord to buy her a Mercedes-Benz, “No other product has been the subject of as many popular ‘love songs’ as the automobile and its brands, with Chevrolet alone mentioned in more than 100 popular songs,” Olson adds.

Innovation drives us forward, but autonomy might well put the brakes on the classic automobile song. Of course such worries may be most prevalent among those of us who grew up driving our own cars, because future generations may see steering wheels as a quaint inconvenience that interferes with their social media use during their morning ride to work, and indeed may not wish to own a car at all. Thus without the interaction that comes from owning and driving a particular car brand, it remains to be seen if future consumers and songwriters will feel the same inspiration to sing about an Uber or Google operated autonomous car.

If one of the first car songs talked of Henry making a lady out of Lizzie, referring to Henry Ford’s Model T, the “Tin Lizzie”, the best part of a century ago, then maybe one day, they’ll be singing the Uber Google Boogie…or maybe not.

Olson, E.L. (2017) ‘Will songs be written about autonomous cars? The implications of self-driving vehicle technology on consumer brand equity and relationships’, Int. J. Technology Marketing, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.23–41.

Emotional security system

A security system is being developed that analyses the user’s brainwaves. The system then determines whether the user is in a fit mental state and grants them access to resources only if appropriate. Such a system might be used to control entry to a building, access to computer resources or even the withdrawal of money from an automated teller machine. It could also have applications in the military, electronic learning, and healthcare, according to research published in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms.

Most security systems simply expect a PIN or password while biometric systems look for a fingerprint, a view of the user’s iris or retina or some other mundane but unique characteristic. Now, Violeta Tulceanu of the University of Iasi is adding an emotion detector to biometric security.

“The true engine of motivation is our capacity to perceive pleasure and fear pain, and thus, reward and punishment,” explains Tulceanu. “Our ability to react to dangerous situations is directly related to our capacity to relate to our environment, and our sense of self-preservation.” As such, if one is in a well-balanced emotional state one will react to external factors according to context, group expectations, education, cultural background, social norms and personal inclinations, these are what game theory refers to as rational players. However, we are emotional creatures subject to wants and desires, lusts, greed, happiness and sadness, as well as the psychoactive effects of chemical stimulants that might make access to particular resources in some contexts inappropriate or hazardous.

In the new approach, Tulceanu first trains the system to recognise a user’s emotional “fingerprint” based on the patterns of electrical brainwaves they generate when presented with specific, evocative auditive stimuli. Each emotional state is matched to a given pattern and these are then associated with particular configurations of the system that allow or preclude access to given resources. When the user next presents requesting access, the system simply measures the current electrical brain activity and if the result of processing the credentials matches the “emotional fingerprint” access is granted or refused accordingly.

The system might thus be used to assess whether a person is acting responsibly and of their own accord. Tulceanu suggests that such a system could be used to ensure the safety and security of individuals and those around them that might be at risk if access is granted to particular resources. After all, any of us might suffer from depression, stress, or anxiety, as well as substance abuse which might affect detrimentally decisions made when accessing sensitive resources. Future work on this system involves being able to predict slow variations in the emotional state that may indicate a degenerative mental illness or chronic depression, helping prevent critical episodes.

Until recently, studies of emotion have been tarred with a somewhat pseudoscientific brush dating back to the nineteenth century and such quackery as phrenology. However, modern research techniques show that far from being ineffable, emotion is completely neurological, and lies at the core of all learning mechanisms. Thus, it can be treated more objectively in appropriate contexts.

Tulceanu, V. (2017) ‘Brainwave authentication using emotional patterns‘, Int. J. Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.1-31.