Integrating image caption information into biomedical document classification in support of biocuration

Database (Oxford). 2020 Jan 1;2020:baaa024. doi: 10.1093/database/baaa024.


Gathering information from the scientific literature is essential for biomedical research, as much knowledge is conveyed through publications. However, the large and rapidly increasing publication rate makes it impractical for researchers to quickly identify all and only those documents related to their interest. As such, automated biomedical document classification attracts much interest. Such classification is critical in the curation of biological databases, because biocurators must scan through a vast number of articles to identify pertinent information within documents most relevant to the database. This is a slow, labor-intensive process that can benefit from effective automation.

We present a document classification scheme aiming to identify papers containing information relevant to a specific topic, among a large collection of articles, for supporting the biocuration classification task. Our framework is based on a meta-classification scheme we have introduced before; here we incorporate into it features gathered from figure captions, in addition to those obtained from titles and abstracts. We trained and tested our classifier over a large imbalanced dataset, originally curated by the Gene Expression Database (GXD). GXD collects all the gene expression information in the Mouse Genome Informatics (MGI) resource. As part of the MGI literature classification pipeline, GXD curators identify MGI-selected papers that are relevant for GXD. The dataset consists of ~60 000 documents (5469 labeled as relevant; 52 866 as irrelevant), gathered throughout 2012-2016, in which each document is represented by the text of its title, abstract and figure captions. Our classifier attains precision 0.698, recall 0.784, f-measure 0.738 and Matthews correlation coefficient 0.711, demonstrating that the proposed framework effectively addresses the high imbalance in the GXD classification task. Moreover, our classifier's performance is significantly improved by utilizing information from image captions compared to using titles and abstracts alone; this observation clearly demonstrates that image captions provide substantial information for supporting biomedical document classification and curation.

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Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / classification
  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data*
  • Computational Biology / classification
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Data Curation / methods*
  • Data Mining / methods
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Humans
  • Internet