What is it about?

The creation of a suitable research question plays a vital role in the research process. For this purpose, the researcher uses prior knowledge, data already available, and literature search to generates a hypothesis as basis for future research activities. If one needs cross-domain knowledge, it often becomes a time consuming process due to the need to separately query different databases with different user interfaces. Thus, we developed a special tool that offers a one-step combined search in three different but interdependent databases: ClinicalTrials.gov (clinical trials), PubMed (research literature) and BioSamples (laboratory data and genetic information). In short, the Clinical Trial Information Mediator (CTIM) was developed to support the generation of research questions for the field of clinical research. For such joint searches a graphical user interface was developed to search linked data in these three databases; bridging the gap between different knowledge domains. CTIM was applied in three research use cases demonstrating that the information retrieval could be considerably improved for complex queries, compared to using the three databases separately. Our use cases showed that more relevant results were obtained and more associated publications and biosamples could be identified and retrieved as compared to single searches.

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Why is it important?

The main advantages of using CTIM is its ability to identify related information between clinical trials and publications employing a clinical trial centered kind of search, simplified access to the databases and reduced search time. CTIM can be used by researchers without prior training because of its intuitive user interface. Two search options are offered: use general search terms (single search field) or advanced search (definition of different options and restrictions for the search).

Perspectives

More and more data is being stored and the number of databases is increasing rapidly. It is therefore an urgent task to simplify and accelerate the search process itself. We are also convinced that new knowledge can be generated by linking data and enable searches on these linked information.

Wolfgang Kuchinke
Heinrich-Heine-Universitat Dusseldorf

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This page is a summary of: Clinical Trial Information Mediator, Journal of Biomedical Informatics, October 2016, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.jbi.2016.08.012.
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