If this were true, it would make it more difficult to promote a quality website of terrific scientists, right?

Maybe - maybe not. Perhaps it is instead the case that information democracy is replacing sources that are hampered by niche fields or ideology or politics.

We're at the top of Google! Provided you type in 'Scientific Blogging.' Credit: Google

As more and more people are turning to the Internet to find information, important science websites are in danger of becoming buried in the sheer avalanche of facts now available online. Key science sites are failing to register in the top 30 Google search results.

reads a press release from the Economic & Social Research Council.

And then ...

Traditionally publishers have held a central position because of the importance of academic articles, but this is changing with increasing uses of the Internet and Web.

That doesn't sound like such a bad thing. All we hear every day is that this outlet or that is biased. The Internet is supposed to be the great equalizer. The study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council says that anyone using the Web to search for information must pay attention not only to quality but to how easy sites are to find.

A fundamental observation was that, despite popular perception, the Web is far from being a neutral source of information. It has a particular structure that steers the search in directions that may not be intended by the user and so makes some sites more accessible than others. Search engines such as Google play an increasingly important gate-keeping role that will influence the information that is found. They can shape "winners and losers" by means that are not always apparent and moreover do so in a manner which can vary according to subject matter.

Visibility on the Web is of increasing importance. Do people looking for research results on global warming or evolution find themselves directed to a few top sites? Since Google accepts money for the ads and ranks the pages, is there concern that credibility can be purchased?

Not at Scientific Blogging. We have outstanding writers in many different fields and we have no barriers, no editorial policies, no political or ideological litmus test. Thats as honest as it gets. And it's all free. We may never be at the top of Google but you will always know where to find us.

Source: Economic & Social Research Council