Applying Citizen Science to Gene, Drug, Disease Relationship Extraction from Biomedical Abstracts

17 Nov 2018 (modified: 05 May 2023)AKBC 2019Readers: Everyone
Keywords: citizen science, relationship extraction, biomedical literature, abstracts
Abstract: Biomedical literature is growing at a rate that outpaces our ability to harness the knowledge contained therein. In order to mine valuable inferences from the large volume of literature, many researchers have turned to information extraction algorithms to harvest information in biomedical texts. Information extraction is usually accomplished via a combination of manual expert curation and computational methods. Advances in computational methods usually depends on the generation of gold standards by a limited number of expert curators. This process can be time consuming and represents an area of biomedical research that is ripe for exploration with citizen science. Citizen scientists have been previously found to be willing and capable of performing named entity recognition of disease mentions in biomedical abstracts, but it was uncertain whether or not the same could be said of relationship extraction. Relationship extraction requires training on identifying named entities as well as a deeper understanding of how different entity types can relate to one another. Here, we used the web-based application Mark2Cure ( to demonstrate that citizen scientists can perform relationship extraction and confirm the importance of accurate named entity recognition on this task. We also discuss opportunities for future improvement of this system, as well as the potential synergies between citizen science, manual biocuration, and natural language processing.
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