In scientific papers, I read something along the lines of the following at times:
Our results on banana transmogrifation may inform studies on apple transmogrification.
Given the context, I am pretty certain that this is intended to mean:
Our results on banana transmogrifation may be provide (useful) information to people performing studies on apple transmogrification.
However, I never encountered inform in the sense of to provide information to applied to an object such as studies, that is neither a person nor an entity representing persons (such as research groups or the government) or similar and thus cannot actually digest information. The dictionaries I consulted1, 2 neither explicitly excluded such a usage nor did they give examples for it.
As all such sentences may have been written by non-native speakers of English and been missed by the copy editor, I thus want to know whether it is actually possible to use inform in this way or whether this is usage is based on a mistranslation or similar.
I am aware that inform can be used with unthinking objects when used in the meaning of to give an essential quality to or similar, but this meaning would not make the sense in the contexts I am talking about – what is “informing” can not be regarded essential in most cases.