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Google announces ‘Dataset Search’ to help journalists tell accurate stories

Google has launched Dataset Search, to help journalists (or indeed anyone else) find the data required for their reports and stories. The search tool, announced this week and still in beta, lets journalists find datasets wherever they’re hosted, whether it’s a publisher’s website, a digital library, or an author’s personal web page.

Google readily admits that the tool is only as good as the metadata that data publishers are willing to provide. To that end, the tech giant has developed guidelines for dataset providers so that Google (and other search engines) can better understand the content of the pages.

These guidelines must include all the relevant information about datasets – who created the dataset, how it was collected, date of publication, and what the data terms mean.

Google then collects and links to this information, analyzes where different versions of the same dataset might be, and finds publications that may be describing or discussing the dataset.

For publishers with in-depth datasets covering important topics, the search tool could provide a valuable uplift in organic search traffic.

Traditionally, datasets have been spread across individual research institutions, universities and other organizations – with Dataset Search, Google is aiming to help journalists, data geeks and researchers sift through the data in a single search bar.

Indeed, Google has been busy throughout 2018 assisting journalists in improving their story accuracy. Whether this is a ‘too little too late’ effort to combat fake news is a moot point, but the initiatives are welcome all the same.

Seven weeks ago, Google rolled out an improved representation of tabular data in search results and, at its developer conference in May, it rolled out a revamped Google News with improved personalization and discovery. The company also recently launched a program to train journalists in India to identify misinformation.