New Publication: Addressing the streetlight effect in systematic review
Click here to read (open access)
The "streetlight effect" is the phenomenon whereby scientists are cut off from research papers which are relevant to their interests, simply because they do not know the papers are conceptually related to the work they are doing.
This issue plagues systematic review and evidence mapping exercises: because conceptual relations are only coded into research databases such as PubMed in a limited way, unless a research team knows that two concepts are related, they will miss evidence relevant to their review.
Our new paper, "Knowledge Organization Systems for Systematic Chemical Assessments", written in collaboration with US EPA scientists and published in Environmental Health Perspectives, explains how ontologies can be used to augment research databases with information about how concepts are linked to each other.
This would mean the database "knows" on behalf of the researchers what evidence is conceptually relevant to their systematic review project, overcoming the need for the researchers to know for themselves all the indirectly relevant outcomes and exposures which would be informative of their findings but not easily known to be so.
The paper presents Adverse Outcome Pathways as a particularly powerful potential application of ontologies in chemical assessments, and presents a 4-step strategy for the development and implementation of ontologies in research.
You can read the paper here: https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP6994