Using association rule mining and ontologies to generate metadata recommendations from multiple biomedical databases

by   Marcos Martinez-Romero, et al.

Metadata-the machine-readable descriptions of the data-are increasingly seen as crucial for describing the vast array of biomedical datasets that are currently being deposited in public repositories. While most public repositories have firm requirements that metadata must accompany submitted datasets, the quality of those metadata is generally very poor. A key problem is that the typical metadata acquisition process is onerous and time consuming, with little interactive guidance or assistance provided to users. Secondary problems include the lack of validation and sparse use of standardized terms or ontologies when authoring metadata. There is a pressing need for improvements to the metadata acquisition process that will help users to enter metadata quickly and accurately. In this paper we outline a recommendation system for metadata that aims to address this challenge. Our approach uses association rule mining to uncover hidden associations among metadata values and to represent them in the form of association rules. These rules are then used to present users with real-time recommendations when authoring metadata. The novelties of our method are that it is able to combine analyses of metadata from multiple repositories when generating recommendations and can enhance those recommendations by aligning them with ontology terms. We implemented our approach as a service integrated into the CEDAR Workbench metadata authoring platform, and evaluated it using metadata from two public biomedical repositories: US-based National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) BioSample and European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) BioSamples. The results show that our approach is able to use analyses of previous entered metadata coupled with ontology-based mappings to present users with accurate recommendations when authoring metadata.



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