A Scalable and Adaptive Method for Finding Semantically Equivalent Cue Words of Uncertainty

by   Chaomei Chen, et al.

Scientific knowledge is constantly subject to a variety of changes due to new discoveries, alternative interpretations, and fresh perspectives. Understanding uncertainties associated with various stages of scientific inquiries is an integral part of scientists' domain expertise and it serves as the core of their meta-knowledge of science. Despite the growing interest in areas such as computational linguistics, systematically characterizing and tracking the epistemic status of scientific claims and their evolution in scientific disciplines remains a challenge. We present a unifying framework for the study of uncertainties explicitly and implicitly conveyed in scientific publications. The framework aims to accommodate a wide range of uncertain types, from speculations to inconsistencies and controversies. We introduce a scalable and adaptive method to recognize semantically equivalent cues of uncertainty across different fields of research and accommodate individual analysts' unique perspectives. We demonstrate how the new method can be used to expand a small seed list of uncertainty cue words and how the validity of the expanded candidate cue words are verified. We visualize the mixture of the original and expanded uncertainty cue words to reveal the diversity of expressions of uncertainty. These cue words offer a novel resource for the study of uncertainty in scientific assertions.


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