The artificial intelligence behind ScienceDirect topics

Every research paper begins a new path. Each topic within that paper has the potential to lay the next stone on the path, leading to new sources and illuminating contextual information—the trail markers to discovery. Imagine if search tools could anticipate your researcher’s need for contextual information on the central amygdala while reading a neuroscience paper? Or if it connected the reader to decades of comprehensive foundational texts on kinematics as they dove into a journal paper on biomedical engineering?

No matter where your patrons are in their scientific careers, whether student, post-doc, professor or researcher, they require reliable contextual information to help them make sense of the journal articles they read.

In many cases, this critical knowledge can be found in books but is not easily discoverable. That's because technology traditionally surfaces journal articles as a priority on scholarly platforms. Moreover, search engines produce an avalanche of results, many of them unreliable. The key content from books is buried and not readily accessible.

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning Elsevier has created a new feature on ScienceDirect called ScienceDirect Topics. Free to access, ScienceDirect Topics reveals succinct and selected contextual information from reference books, surfacing valuable content when and where it is needed in the research process.


"Refreshing and up to date knowledge regarding immunotherapy in treating cancer."

Perry S. Williams MD, Grand Lake Regional Cancer Center*

This enhancement provides a necessary bridge between journal and book content and contributes to a more natural research workflow for researchers, academics and students. Offering tens of thousands of free topic pages, each containing key contextual information taken from reference books, providing definitions, snippets and related terms, ScienceDirect Topics brings the path of discovery to your users.

Students and researchers on working desks with computers | Elsevier

The topic pages are seamlessly hyperlinked via key terms within journal articles and scholarly literature on ScienceDirect to speed your research and learning. The topic pages are also accessible through search engines such as Google to offer a free layer of content users seeking a quick overview to a subject.

With ScienceDirect Topics, researchers now have rapid access to the most relevant content – filtered to prevent information overload — right when and where they need it.

We have recently released an additional 30,000 topic pages, making over 110,000 live pages in total in the below subject areas with more to come in 2018!

  • Neuroscience
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Earth and Planetary Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Food Science
  • Materials Science & Materials Engineering

ScienceDirect has already witnessed an explosion of usage of Topic pages, and traffic continues to increase every month. The current Topic pages have generated significant engagement, with millions of visits to the pages in just a few months. Additionally, 55% of these visits are by return users, which suggests that these researchers are finding value in the pages and returning to look at additional pages. We have heard from many users about the benefits of the Topic pages in their research, education and learning, including:


"My students gained a greater ability to further curate their own research and felt an increased level of confidence when using the Topic pages on ScienceDirect."

Elaine Reynolds, Associate Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, Lafayette College, and development partner for ScienceDirect Topics

"They helped me to understand a topic that I was having trouble finding information on. This saved me a lot of time because if I hadn’t found the Topic pages, I would have spent hours researching the University library."

User of ScienceDirect Topics, March 2018

ScienceDirect Topics will streamline understanding for an ever-widening circle of researchers, and an even broader range of Topic pages are slated for launch in the near future. By the end of 2018, ScienceDirect Topics will include even more pages, hyperlinked from more than 4 million journal articles on ScienceDirect. This means that, for many researchers, the days of frustrating data silos have ended — and that connected, intelligently indexed insights are here to stay.

Learn more about ScienceDirect Topics here


Source of quotes:
—TechValidate. TVID: B35-E3B-316
—TechValidate. TVID: 9E8-E36-F2F