EBTC Newsletter | January2021
In this newsletter (scroll down): 
  • New EBTC paper, about the streetlight effect in systematic review
  • Sign up! EBTC Online Symposium on EPA IRIS phthalate SRs
  • Catch up: Webinar on COSTER recommendations for SRs

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:

Sign up! EBTC Online Scientific Symposium
9am-10:30am EST, Tuesday 2 Feb 2021

Application of US EPA IRIS systematic review methods to health effects of phthalate exposures.

Click here to register.


  1. Introduction to the US EPA IRIS methodology being applied in the systematic reviews
  2. Methods used for systematically reviewing animal studies of phthalate exposures - Dr Laura Dishaw
  3. Summary of findings of the systematic reviews of animal studies -
    Dr Erin Yost
  4. Summary of findings of the systematic reviews of epidemiological
    studies - Dr Elizabeth Radke
  5. Methods used for dose-response modelling in the systematic
    reviews - Dr Todd Blessinger
  6. Panel session with audience Q&A

The Special Issue in which the systematic reviews have been published can be accessed here. An editorial by the authors and editors of the Special Issues, summarising the findings and lessons from the SRs, can be read here.

The Symposium will be held online at 9am-10:30am Eastern time, 2pm-3:30pm UK time, on Tuesday 2 February 2021. The Symposium is open to all - please register to participate using this link.

In case you missed it: EBTC Webinar on the COSTER recommendations for conduct of systematic reviews

COSTER is the first consensus statement on recommended practice for systematic reviews in environmental health and toxicology.

Last September, EBTC organised an online symposium in which COSTER was presented. In case you missed it, the video recording of the symposium can be viewed here.

The COSTER recommendations can be read here (open access).

The Evidence-based Toxicology Collaboration is an open international network of academic, government, non-profit and industry organizations, formed to foster collaborative development and adoption of evidence-based methodologies in toxicology. The EBTC is governed by the Board of Trustees.
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