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Use of Information Retrieval Systems in Scientific Research

Christina Magnifico
LI819: Information Retrieval

Use of Information Retrieval Systems in Scientific Research

Scientific research requires access to accurate, relevant and evidence-based
information that may be difficult to find in a timely manner. Information retrieval
systems play an integral role in helping scientists find, access, and organize information.
As the breadth of research grows, the ability to search accurately for the information
needed has become increasingly important. Retrieval systems have responded to this need
by creating new ways to search and view results, integrating semantic search engines, and
creating innovative tools to aid researchers in retrieving the information for their
research. As scientists continue to require access to full-text research articles instead of
abstracts, databases must expand to meet the access needs of their patron base.
With a vast world of information at their fingertips, the dissemination of scientific
information can now have an immediate and direct impact on the quality of research
produced by an organization, and thus the possibility of helping to procure additional
funding from grants. This transformation taking place in the scientific community,
requires each database to tailor their retrieval process to the type of research being
conducted. For example, the National Center for Biotechnology Information has created a
PubChem Structure Search that allows researchers to search the database using 3D
molecular structures created in the PubChem editor (Roth, 2008). This is just one
innovative use of an information retrieval system. Another feature of some information
retrieval systems, particularly Web of Science (Thomson Reuters, 2014), is the ability to
generate bibliometricor citation maps, utilizing citation information from individual
resources within the retrieval system.

Figure 1 Citation Map from Web of Science

Another aspect of searching scientific databases, especially those that integrate a
semantic search engine, is the ability for those databases to [provide researchers] with a
comprehensive and accurate associated knowledge query platform to greatly facilitate
implicit knowledge discovery (Chen, X; Chen, H; Bi, X; Gu, P; Chen, J; Wu, Z, 2014).
An example of a scientific database that uses a semantic search engine in order to
effectively search biological literature is BioTCM-SE, an information retrieval system
that contains modern biology and traditional Chinese medicine. The database allows
researchers to query and analyze data (p. 7) directly in the database, saving researchers
from having to synthesize the results of their query outside of the database.
As scientific information retrieval systems become increasingly more prevalent
within scientific research and laboratory practice, continued innovation and an increased
need for more efficient ways to query a database will be needed. Studies into the use of
scientific information retrieval systems will continue to be integral to the evaluation of
the systems as a whole. Since user experience is such an important aspect of designing
information retrieval systems, the feedback from the scientific community and the data
mined from their usage will be vital to those tasked with designing information retrieval
systems for the next generation of users.
Chen, X, Chen, H, Bi, X, Gu, P, Chen, J, Wu Z. (2014) BioTCM-SE: a semantic search
engine for the information retrieval of modern biology and traditional Chinese
medicine. Computational and mathematic methods in medicine, 2014(957231).
Retrieved from
Roth, D. (2008). Web-accessible chemical compound information. Journal of electronic
resources in medical libraries, 5(3), 228-242. Retrieved from
Thomson Reuters. (2014). Web of Science: Citation map. Retrieved from