2017 Impact factor 2.982

News / Highlights / Colloquium

EPJ Data Science Highlight - Using patients’ trail of digital crumbs for public health surveillance

Patients' digital crumbs could be used to complement existing disease surveillance mechanisms.
© bakhtiarzein / Fotolia

Public health agencies could capitalise on streams of data related to patients on the internet but only once interpretation methods have been validated.

Data is ubiquitous. In the area of heath, there are growing data streams directly initiated by patients through their activities on the internet and on social networks and other related ones such as electronic medical records and pharmacy sales data. These so-called Novel Data Streams (NDS) are very appealing to public health surveillance officials due to their ease of collection. A new paper published in EPJ Data Science evaluates the currently available NDS surveillance papers before outlining a conceptual framework for integrating such data into current public health surveillance systems. The authors, who hail from public health agencies, academia, and the private sector, highlight the need for future rigorous evaluation and validation of standards before NDS can effectively reinforce existing public health surveillance systems.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - What 15 years of mobile data can say about us

Sample of a mobile phone network, obtained with a snowball sampling
© Blondel et al.

Mobile communication has not shrunk the world as expected, according to an overview of big data analysis revealing the nature of our social interactions with greater accuracy than ever before.

Large-scale anonymised datasets from mobile phones can give a better picture of society than ever before available. Mobile phone use helps us understand social networks, mobility and human behaviour. A review article recently published in EPJ Data Science highlights the main contributions in the field of mobile phone datasets analysis in the past 15 years. Vincent Blondel from the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium, and colleagues conclude, among other things, that predictions that the world would shrink into a small village have not completely materialised as distance still plays a role. Meanwhile, individuals appear to have highly predictable movements as populations evolve in a remarkably synchronised way.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Big Data reveals classical music creation secrets

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The backbone network of Western classical composers, built from comprehensive recordings data

Study uncovers how classical music composers collaborate, mix, and influence one another. Results show how culture evolves and predict the future of the recording market

A team of scientists has shed light on the dynamics of the creation, collaboration and dissemination processes involved in classical music works and styles. Their study focuses on analysing networks of composers contemporary to CD publications, using modern data analysis and data modelling techniques. These findings have just been published in EPJ Data Science by Doheum Park from the Graduate School of Culture Technology at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon and colleagues. This work explores the nature of culture in novel ways, as part of a broader movement of applying quantitative methods to music, the visual arts and literature.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Towards a scientific process freed from systemic bias

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Frank Schweitzer. © Frank Schweitzer

Large-scale analysis of bibliographic data can help us better understand the complex social processes in science and provide more accurate evaluation methods

Research on how science works—the science of science—can benefit from studying the digital traces generated during the research process, such as peer-reviewed publications. This type of research is crucial for the future of science and that of scientists, according to Frank Schweitzer, Chair of Systems Design at ETH Zurich, in Switzerland. Indeed, quantitative measures of scientific output and success in science already impact the evaluation of researchers and the funding of proposals. He shares his views in an Editorial spearheading a thematic series of articles entitled “Scientific networks and success in science”, published in EPJ Data Science. There, Schweitzer notes, “it is appropriate to ask whether such quantitative measures convey the right information and what insights might be missing.”

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Shadows over data sharing

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Many hurdles have stood in the way of genomic data sharing since it was produced. © Jer Thorp

Experience gained from data sharing during the human genome sequencing project could apply to the broader research community

In a paper about to be published in EPJ Data Science, Barbara Jasny, deputy editor for commentary at Science magazine in Washington, DC, USA, looks at the history of the debates surrounding data access during and after the human genome “war”. In this context, she outlines current challenges in accessing information affecting research, particularly with regard to the social sciences, personalised medicine and sustainability.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Tracking gene flow in marine plant evolution

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Genetic flow network for the Cymodocea nodosa marine plant. © A. P. Masucci et al.

Physicists and biologists apply Big Data statistical tools to study marine plant evolution

A new method that could give a deeper insight into evolutional biology by tracing directionality in gene migration has just appeared in EPJ Data Science. Paolo Masucci from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, at University College of London, UK, and colleagues identified the segregation of genes that a marine plant underwent during its evolution. They found that the exchange of genes, or gene flow, between populations of a marine plant went westward from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. This methodology could also be used to estimate the information flow in complex networks, including other biological or social networks.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Driven by friendship

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© Emilio Ferrara

Dynamics of Facebook: the structure of the network drives friends to congregate into many small, highly interconnected communities

For the first time, the dynamics of how Facebook user communities are formed have been identified, revealing surprisingly few large communities and innumerable highly connected small-size communities. These findings are about to be published in EPJ Data Science by Italian scientist Emilio Ferrara, affiliated with both Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, USA and his home University of Messina. This work could ultimately help identify the most efficient way to spread information, such as advertising, or ideas over large networks.

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EPJ Data Science Highlight - Twitter data crunching: the new crystal ball

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Scientists have devised a means to predict the outcome of election-based processes such as TV talent shows through the big data analysis of tweets.

Fabio Ciulla from Northeastern University, Boston, USA, and his colleagues demonstrated that the elimination of contestants in TV talent shows based on public voting, such as American Idol, can be anticipated. They unveiled the predictive power of microblogging Twitter signals—used as a proxy for the general preference of an audience—in a study recently published in EPJ Data Science.

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EPJ Data Science - Countering crowd control collapse

EPJ Data Science - Countering crowd control collapse
© Angel Herrero de Frutos, iStockphotos, 138179229

Understanding crowd dynamics can prevent disaster at cultural or sports events.

Physicists investigating a recent crowd disaster in Germany found that one of the key causes was that at some point the crowd dynamics turned turbulent, akin to behaviour found in unstable fluid flows. The study, led by Dirk Helbing from the Risk Center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich, Switzerland, is published in EPJ Data Science.

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EPJ Data Science - Positive words: the glue to social interaction

© Jennifer Stone/thinkstock.de

Words charged with a positive emotional content are used more frequently, thus enhancing human communication.

Scientists at ETH Zurich have studied the use of language, finding that words with a positive emotional content are more frequently used in written communication. This result supports the theory that social relations are enhanced by a positive bias in human communication. The study by David Garcia and his colleagues from the Chair of Systems Design is published in the first issue of the new SpringerOpen journal EPJ Data Science, and is freely available to the general public as an Open Access article.

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Editors-in-Chief
M. Strohmaier