RefAI: a GPT-powered retrieval-augmented generative tool for biomedical literature recommendation and summarization

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2024 Jun 10:ocae129. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocae129. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: Precise literature recommendation and summarization are crucial for biomedical professionals. While the latest iteration of generative pretrained transformer (GPT) incorporates 2 distinct modes-real-time search and pretrained model utilization-it encounters challenges in dealing with these tasks. Specifically, the real-time search can pinpoint some relevant articles but occasionally provides fabricated papers, whereas the pretrained model excels in generating well-structured summaries but struggles to cite specific sources. In response, this study introduces RefAI, an innovative retrieval-augmented generative tool designed to synergize the strengths of large language models (LLMs) while overcoming their limitations.

Materials and methods: RefAI utilized PubMed for systematic literature retrieval, employed a novel multivariable algorithm for article recommendation, and leveraged GPT-4 turbo for summarization. Ten queries under 2 prevalent topics ("cancer immunotherapy and target therapy" and "LLMs in medicine") were chosen as use cases and 3 established counterparts (ChatGPT-4, ScholarAI, and Gemini) as our baselines. The evaluation was conducted by 10 domain experts through standard statistical analyses for performance comparison.

Results: The overall performance of RefAI surpassed that of the baselines across 5 evaluated dimensions-relevance and quality for literature recommendation, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and reference integration for summarization, with the majority exhibiting statistically significant improvements (P-values <.05).

Discussion: RefAI demonstrated substantial improvements in literature recommendation and summarization over existing tools, addressing issues like fabricated papers, metadata inaccuracies, restricted recommendations, and poor reference integration.

Conclusion: By augmenting LLM with external resources and a novel ranking algorithm, RefAI is uniquely capable of recommending high-quality literature and generating well-structured summaries, holding the potential to meet the critical needs of biomedical professionals in navigating and synthesizing vast amounts of scientific literature.

Keywords: generative pretrained transformer; large language model; literature recommendation; retrieval-augmented generation; text summarization.