How fast can you read? Probably not fast enough to keep up with scientific papers published at a rate of almost two a minute, or catch up with the around 50 million papers sitting waiting to be perused in public databases worldwide. All is not lost, though – a team of scientists and analysts have created a data mining tool that could help researchers mine medical literature and use the information to formulate hypotheses.
Being able to keep up with the latest breakthroughs is critical for scientific research, but the difficulties with access could slow scientific and medical research. While is is relatively straightforward to search the scientific literature, this can just generates a mass of information that can be difficult to analyse and use to draw conclusions. As Olivier Lichtarge, director of the Center of Computational and Integrative Biomedical Research at Baylor, explains, scientists formulate hypotheses based on what they read and know, but because there is so little that they can actually read in the time they have available, hypotheses can be biased. However, computers and data mining could provide an answer.
“A computer certainly may not reason as well as a scientist but the little it can, logically and objectively, may contribute greatly when applied to our entire body of knowledge,” says Lichtarge.