Text mining for the biocuration workflow

Hirschman L, Burns GA, Krallinger M, Arighi C, Cohen KB, Valencia A, Wu CH, Chatr-Aryamontri A, Dowell KG, Huala E, Lourenço A, Nash R, Veuthey AL,Wiegers T, Winter AG.

Database (Oxford). 2012 Apr; 2012:bas020

PMID: 22513129

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3328793

Abstract

Molecular biology has become heavily dependent on biological knowledge encoded in expert curated biological databases. As the volume of biological literature increases, biocurators need help in keeping up with the literature; (semi-) automated aids for biocuration would seem to be an ideal application for natural language processing and text mining.

However, to date, there have been few documented successes for improving biocuration throughput using text mining. Our initial investigations took place for the workshop on ‘Text Mining for the BioCuration Workflow’ at the third International Biocuration Conference (Berlin, 2009). We interviewed biocurators to obtain workflows from eight biological databases.

This initial study revealed high-level commonalities, including (i) selection of documents for curation; (ii) indexing of documents with biologically relevant entities (e.g. genes); and (iii) detailed curation of specific relations (e.g. interactions); however, the detailed workflows also showed many variabilities. Following the workshop, we conducted a survey of biocurators.

The survey identified biocurator priorities, including the handling of full text indexed with biological entities and support for the identification and prioritization of documents for curation. It also indicated that two-thirds of the biocuration teams had experimented with text mining and almost half were using text mining at that time.

Analysis of our interviews and survey provide a set of requirements for the integration of text mining into the biocuration workflow. These can guide the identification of common needs across curated databases and encourage joint experimentation involving biocurators, text mining developers and the larger biomedical research community.