3:30pm Tuesday, Nov. 25th, 2014 in Agriculture 5C61
A little semantics goes a long way, but a lot goes a long long way
Projections suggest that the delay between scientific discovery, and the dissemination and implementation of the knowledge embodied in that discovery, will soon vanish. At that point, all data and knowledge resulting from an investigation will be instantly interpreted and disseminated, influencing other researcher's experiments, and their results, immediately and transparently. This clearly requires that research results be of extremely high quality and reliability, and that research processes – from hypothesis to publication – become tightly integrated into the Web. Though the technologies necessary to achieve this kind of “Web Science” do not yet exist, our recently-published studies of automated in silico investigation demonstrate that we are enticingly close, and a path toward next-generation Web Science is now clear.
Scientific research has been largely unaffected by modern Web technologies. From hypothesis generation through experimentation to the publication of results, scientists continue to manually integrate data-sets, assemble analytical pipelines, and publish manuscripts that can cannot be understood by machines. This is despite voluminous evidence that (a) researchers cannot keep-up with the literature, (b) high-throughput studies are increasingly non-reproducible due to errors in integration, execution, or lack of methodological documentation, and (c) peer review is failing to detect these mistakes, thus global scientific knowledge is being contaminated with factual errors. Our research programme is targeted at providing an end-to-end in silico research platform that takes advantage of modern Semantic Web technologies to improve accuracy and reproducibility. Experiments are designed, executed, published, and re-used entirely within the Web. The hypotheses behind experiments are explicit; the experiments are self-describing; analytical pipelines automatically utilize globally distributed expertise to ensure accuracy; and results are fully annotated, facilitating rigorous peer-review. The Web, to date, has only cosmetically changed the research process. Our vision for Web-embedded science re-defines scientific methodology by fully integrating it with a global network of knowledge and expertise on the Semantic Web.