Search for facts buried in articles with EvidenceFinder

Europe PubMed Central has this interesting “lab section“, where they experiment new tools to improve how one can search their database.

EvidenceFinder is a search engine that digs deep into the full text of articles to find facts related to your search queries. EvidenceFinder then converts these facts into a list of questions. And for each question, corresponds articles containing specific answers.

For example, if I enter the keyword “mucin” (a glycoprotein, major component of our mucus), the tool will come up with a series of questions that I might have been thinking of:

  • What is bound to intestinal mucin?
  • What is bound by salivary mucin?
  • What degrades intestinal mucin?
  • What produces mucin?
  • What is inhibited by submaxillary mucin?
  • What dilutes in gastric mucin?
  • ….

Let’s say I was looking for information about what can bind to salivary mucin, the tool then displays articles that contain answers to the question. For example, here we learn that salivary mucin bins to Choleragen and “WGA” for example. The tool makes accessing very specific facts easy.

I found that the search had a very natural feel, probably because very often my search queries actually originate from questions. Usualy, I first mentally transform a question into keywords, then it is up to me to do the data mining. Here, the data mining is done for us, and the tool provides a list of questions that have been addressed in the literature. The service is still in the experimental phase, and is a bit to slow to be used in my every day search, but I will definitely be keeping an eye on this.

EvidenceFinder is developed by The National Centre for Text Mining (NaCTeM), a UK-based text mining centre that provides text mining services to the UK academic community. The tool is hosted by Europe PMC (formerly named UKPMC),  an initiative supported by 19 funders of biomedical research, including charities and government organisations in the UK, Austria, and Italy, led by the Wellcome Trust.

I will very soon create a new section in the “Online tools for researchers” page gathering the most innovative and useful research-oriented search engines.