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Concept: Search engine optimization


Internet search rankings have a significant impact on consumer choices, mainly because users trust and choose higher-ranked results more than lower-ranked results. Given the apparent power of search rankings, we asked whether they could be manipulated to alter the preferences of undecided voters in democratic elections. Here we report the results of five relevant double-blind, randomized controlled experiments, using a total of 4,556 undecided voters representing diverse demographic characteristics of the voting populations of the United States and India. The fifth experiment is especially notable in that it was conducted with eligible voters throughout India in the midst of India’s 2014 Lok Sabha elections just before the final votes were cast. The results of these experiments demonstrate that (i) biased search rankings can shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20% or more, (ii) the shift can be much higher in some demographic groups, and (iii) search ranking bias can be masked so that people show no awareness of the manipulation. We call this type of influence, which might be applicable to a variety of attitudes and beliefs, the search engine manipulation effect. Given that many elections are won by small margins, our results suggest that a search engine company has the power to influence the results of a substantial number of elections with impunity. The impact of such manipulations would be especially large in countries dominated by a single search engine company.

Concepts: Search engine optimization, Voting, Elections, Election, Democracy, Voting system, Lok Sabha, Voter turnout


Although traditionally the primary information sources for cancer patients have been the treating medical team, patients and their relatives increasingly turn to the Internet, though this source may be misleading and confusing. We assess Internet searching patterns to understand the information needs of cancer patients and their acquaintances, as well as to discern their underlying psychological states. We screened 232,681 anonymous users who initiated cancer-specific queries on the Yahoo Web search engine over three months, and selected for study users with high levels of interest in this topic. Searches were partitioned by expected survival for the disease being searched. We compared the search patterns of anonymous users and their contacts. Users seeking information on aggressive malignancies exhibited shorter search periods, focusing on disease- and treatment-related information. Users seeking knowledge regarding more indolent tumors searched for longer periods, alternated between different subjects, and demonstrated a high interest in topics such as support groups. Acquaintances searched for longer periods than the proband user when seeking information on aggressive (compared to indolent) cancers. Information needs can be modeled as transitioning between five discrete states, each with a unique signature representing the type of information of interest to the user. Thus, early phases of information-seeking for cancer follow a specific dynamic pattern. Areas of interest are disease dependent and vary between probands and their contacts. These patterns can be used by physicians and medical Web site authors to tailor information to the needs of patients and family members.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Web search engine, Search engine optimization, World Wide Web, Internet, Searching, Yahoo!


BACKGROUND: For shotgun mass spectrometry based proteomics the most computationally expensive step is in matching the spectra against an increasingly large database of sequences and their post-translational modifications with known masses. Each mass spectrometer can generate data at an astonishingly high rate, and the scope of what is searched for is continually increasing. Therefore solutions for improving our ability to perform these searches are needed. RESULTS: We present a sequence database search engine that is specifically designed to run efficiently on the Hadoop MapReduce distributed computing framework. The search engine implements the K-score algorithm, generating comparable output for the same input files as the original implementation. The scalability of the system is shown, and the architecture required for the development of such distributed processing is discussed. CONCLUSION: The software is scalable in its ability to handle a large peptide database, numerous modifications and large numbers of spectra. Performance scales with the number of processors in the cluster, allowing throughput to expand with the available resources.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Phosphorylation, Search engine optimization, Computer science, Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization, Peer-to-peer, Hadoop, Distributed computing


BACKGROUND: In searches for clinical trials and systematic reviews, it is said that Google Scholar (GS) should never be used in isolation, but in addition to PubMed, Cochrane, and other trusted sources of information. We therefore performed a study to assess the coverage of GS specifically for the studies included in systematic reviews and evaluate if GS was sensitive enough to be used alone for systematic reviews. METHODS: All the original studies included in 29 systematic reviews published in the Cochrane Database Syst Rev or in the JAMA in 2009 were gathered in a gold standard database. GS was searched for all these studies one by one to assess the percentage of studies which could have been identified by searching only GS. RESULTS: All the 738 original studies included in the gold standard database were retrieved in GS (100%). CONCLUSION: The coverage of GS for the studies included in the systematic reviews is 100%. If the authors of the 29 systematic reviews had used only GS, no reference would have been missed. With some improvement in the research options, to increase its precision, GS could become the leading bibliographic database in medicine and could be used alone for systematic reviews.

Concepts: Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Cochrane Collaboration, MEDLINE, Review, Search engine optimization, Bibliographic databases, Reference management software


Previously, we reported on the low recall of Google Scholar (GS) for systematic review (SR) searching. Here, we test our conclusions further in a prospective study by comparing the coverage, recall, and precision of SR search strategies previously performed in Embase, MEDLINE, and GS.

Concepts: Medical research, Review, Search engine optimization, Bibliographic databases, Searching, The Search


BACKGROUND: Krokodil, a homemade injectable opioid, gained its moniker from the excessive harms associated with its use, such as ulcerations, amputations and discolored scale-like skin. While a relatively new phenomenon, krokodil use is prevalent in Russia and the Ukraine, with at least 100,000 and around 20,000 people respectively estimated to have injected the drug in 2011. In this paper we review the existing information on the production and use of krokodil, within the context of the region’s recent social history. METHODS: We searched PubMed, Google Advanced Search, Google Scholar, YouTube and the media search engine for peer reviewed or media reports, grey literature and video reports. Survey data from HIV prevention and treatment NGOs was consulted, as well as regional experts and NGO representatives. FINDINGS: Krokodil production emerged in an atypical homemade drug production and injecting risk environment that predates the fall of communism. Made from codeine, the active ingredient is reportedly desomorphine, but - given the rudimentary ‘laboratory’ conditions - the solution injected may include various opioid alkaloids as well as high concentrations of processing chemicals, responsible for the localized and systemic injuries reported here. Links between health care and law enforcement, stigma and maltreatment by medical providers are likely to thwart users seeking timely medical help. CONCLUSION: A comprehensive response to the emergence of krokodil and associated harms should focus both on the substance itself and its rudimentary production methods, as well as on its micro and macro risk environments - that of the on-going syndemic of drug injecting, HIV, HCV, TB and STIs in the region and the recent upheaval in local and international heroin supply. The feasibility of harm reduction strategies for people who inject krokodil may depend more on political will than on the practical implementation of interventions. The legal status of opioid substitution treatment in Russia is a point in case.

Concepts: Opioid, Morphine, Drug addiction, Heroin, Pharmaceutical drug, Search engine optimization, Russia, Codeine


Purpose: To develop a transdisciplinary conceptualization of social belonging that could be used to guide measurement approaches aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of community-based programs for people with disabilities. Method: We conducted a narrative, scoping review of peer reviewed English language literature published between 1990 and July 2011 using multiple databases, with “sense of belonging” as a key search term. The search engine ranked articles for relevance to the search strategy. Articles were searched in order until theoretical saturation was reached. We augmented this search strategy by reviewing reference lists of relevant papers. Results: Theoretical saturation was reached after 40 articles; 22 of which were qualitative accounts. We identified five intersecting themes: subjectivity; groundedness to an external referent; reciprocity; dynamism and self-determination. Conclusion: We define a sense of belonging as a subjective feeling of value and respect derived from a reciprocal relationship to an external referent that is built on a foundation of shared experiences, beliefs or personal characteristics. These feelings of external connectedness are grounded to the context or referent group, to whom one chooses, wants and feels permission to belong. This dynamic phenomenon may be either hindered or promoted by complex interactions between environmental and personal factors. [Box: see text].

Concepts: Philosophy of language, Semantics, Review, Search engine optimization, Reciprocity, Searching, Reference, Reciprocal


Calcium hydroxide has been used extensively in dentistry for a century. Despite its widespread use as a pulp-capping agent, its mechanisms of action still remain ambiguous. Understanding its modes of action will lead to a broader understanding of the mechanisms associated with induced dentinogenesis and help in optimizing the currently available agents to target specific regenerative processes to obtain the best possible clinical outcomes. A literature search relating to mechanisms of dentinogenesis of calcium hydroxide up to December 2011 was carried out using pubmed and MEDLINE database searches as well as manual searching of cross-references from identified studies. Resulting suggestions regarding dentinogenic mechanisms of calcium hydroxide range from direct irritating action of the material to induction of release of biologically active molecules. The purpose of this article is to discuss various mechanisms through which calcium hydroxide may induce tertiary dentinogenesis in the light of observations made in included studies.

Concepts: Chemistry, Search engine optimization, Agent, Searching, Calcium hydroxide


Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a mycotoxin found in a wide range of food and feedstuffs. Intake of OTA-contaminated food causes health concern due to the harmful effects reported on humans and animals. Much effort is currently devoted to set up and optimise highly sensitive and accurate methods of OTA analysis. This work describes the comparison of fluorescence-based immunosensing strategies for the analysis of OTA. First, an indirect competitive fluoroimmunoassay was designed and optimised. The assay enabled the quantification of the toxin at the levels set by the European legislation. Then, a flow-immunoassay based on kinetic exclusion measurements was developed. It showed the theoretical lowest limit of detection enabled by the affinity of the anti-OTA antibody (IC(80)=12ngL(-1) in the assay solution). Wine and cereal samples were analysed using the optimised flow system. No significant matrix effects were observed after simple pre-treatment of wine and OTA extraction from corn-flakes samples. This simple and highly sensitive automated biosensing-system allows OTA quantification in food and beverages. It is envisaged as a powerful tool for rapid and reliable toxin screening.

Concepts: Scientific method, Energy, Measurement, Mycotoxin, Cereal, Search engine optimization, Ochratoxin, Ochratoxin A


Proteomics research routinely involves identifying peptides and proteins via tandem mass spectrometry sequence database search. Thus the database search engine is an integral tool in many proteomics research groups. Here, we introduce the Comet search engine to the existing landscape of commercial and open source database search tools. Comet is open source, freely available, and based on one of the original sequence database search tools that has been widely used for many years.

Concepts: Protein, Mass spectrometry, Peptide, In-gel digestion, Search engine optimization, Tandem mass spectrometry, Top-down proteomics, Netscape