Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Ways to Mine Research May Lead to Scientific Breakthroughs

14.02.2011
The Internet has become not only a tool for disseminating knowledge through scientific publications, but it also has the potential to shape scientific research through expanding the field of metaknowledge—the study of knowledge itself.

The new possibilities for metaknowledge include developing a better understanding of science’s social context and the biases that can affect research findings and choices of research topics, according to an article published by University of Chicago researchers in the journal Science.

Pooling research-related information online can shed light on how scientists’ personal backgrounds or funding sources shape their research approaches, and could open up new fields of study, wrote James Evans, assistant professor in sociology at the University of Chicago, and Jacob Foster, a post-doctoral scholar at the University, in an analysis supported with a National Science Foundation grant.

“The computational production and consumption of metaknowledge will allow researchers and policymakers to leverage more scientific knowledge—explicit, implicit, contextual—in their efforts to advance science,” the two wrote in the Perspectives article “Metaknowledge,” published in the Feb. 11 issue of Science. Metaknowledge is essential in a digital era in which so many investigations are linked electronically, they point out.

An important new tool for metaknowledge researchers seeking previously hidden connections is natural language processing, one of the rapidly emerging fields of artificial intelligence. NLP permits machine reading, information extraction and automatic summarization.

Researchers at Google used computational content analysis to identify the emergence of influenza epidemics by identifying and tracking related Google searches. The process was faster than other techniques used by public health officials. These content analysis techniques complement the statistical techniques of meta-analysis, which typically incorporate data from many different studies in an effort to draw a larger conclusion about a research question, such as the influence of class size on student achievement.

For scientific research, meta-analysis can trace the connections between data and conclusions in ways that might not otherwise be noticed. For example, the availability of samples from the Southern Hemisphere related to continental drift has influenced the way in which geologists have made conclusions about plate tectonics.

Metaknowledge also has unveiled the possibility of “ghost theories” implicit assumptions that may undergird scientific conclusions, even when researchers do not acknowledge them. For example, psychologists frequently use college students as research subjects and accordingly publish papers based on the behavior of a group that may or may not be typical of the entire population. Scholars using traditional metaknowledge techniques found that 67 percent of the papers published in the Journal of Personality and Social Behavior were based on studies of undergraduates. The use of computation could accelerate and widen the discovery of such ghost theories.

Entrenched scientific ideas can develop when studies repeatedly find conclusions that support previous claims by well-known scholars and also when students of distinguished researchers go on to do their own work, which also reinforces previous claims. Both of those trends can be uncovered by scholars working in metaknowledge, Evans and Foster said.

Metaknowledge also helps scholars understand the role funding plays in research. “There is evidence from metaknowledge that embedding research in the private or public sector modulates its path,” they write. “Company projects tend to eschew dogma in an impatient hunt for commercial breakthroughs, leading to rapid but unsystematic accumulation of knowledge, whereas public research focuses on the careful accumulation of consistent results.”

The promise of metaknowedge is its capacity to steer researchers to new fields, they said.

“Metaknowledge could inform individual strategies about research investment, pointing out overgrazed fields where herding leads to diminishing returns as well as lush range where premature certainty has halted promising investigation,” Evans and Foster said.

William Harms | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uchicago.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>