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I am preparing a paper for a conference. At some point, I want to show that one area is gaining more interest over another area. Do you think that using a google trend diagram as a supportive (not the main) evidence is a good idea ? My area of research is web information systems.

  • I feel like it may look a bit unprofessional just using a screenshot from google. I've done similar things in the past for a talk and I believe google has an api. I'd pull the data and make my own plot - would look a bit better. – Aaron Shifman Jul 6 '16 at 19:31
  • Thanks, yes this is what I will be doing. But I was wondering whether it does really reflect the interest? because some people may argue that interest is not necessary connected to google searches. – M20 Jul 6 '16 at 19:36
  • I would check publications with certain search terms over time. Might give a better picture of interest. – Aaron Shifman Jul 6 '16 at 19:39
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Yes, you can use it, but treat it like any other source of data.

I have been encouraged to use Google Trends data as supporting evidence by my professors. You would need to explain the implications of the data, including caveats, just like any other type of data. In the case of Google Trends, be careful not to overstate what it is saying. It is only counting searches made on the Google platform, so what does this tell you directly, and what does it imply indirectly?

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You can use it. There is no rule that prevents you from doing this anyway. But consider a few points.

  1. Where are you going to include this? If this is part of the Introduction or Motivation sections, this should be fine, as there are (field dependent, of course) many papers that have introductions that are not-so-technical in the nature, and to build up the interest of the reader.

However, including this as part of a latter technical section such as Evaluation is a terrible idea, as it is not really technical.

  1. If you are indeed going to include this in the "Introduction" or "Motivation" as above, make sure to use it appropriately.

For example, Don't pay too much importance to the numbers (Search results). They mean nothing. Rather, discuss or point how they grew over time (Topic "A" appeared to grow exponentially in interest though it started with much lesser impact in the Internet compared to Topic "B" based on the Google Hits).

  1. Space is very expensive in research papers. Most of the conference papers give you a limited space (such as 10 pages). Are you sure you are not wasting the precious space with not-so-useful diagrams?

My point is, consider whether there are better ways to utilize the space while proving your point (Topic "A" is gaining more interest recently compared to Topic "B").

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