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The Role of Knowledge in Conceptual Retrieval: A Study in the Domain of Clinical Medicine
Despite its intuitive appeal, the hypothesis that retrieval at the level of concepts should outperform purely term-based approaches remains unverified empirically. In addition, the use of 'knowledge' has not consistently resulted in performance gains. After identifying possible reasons for previous negative results, we present a novel framework for 'conceptual retrieval' that articulates the types of knowledge that are important for information seeking. We instantiate this general framework in the domain of clinical medicine based on the principles of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Experiments show that an EBM-based scoring algorithm dramatically outperforms a state-of-the-art baseline that employs only term statistics. Ablation studies further yield a better understanding of the performance contributions of different components. Finally, we discuss how other domains can benefit from knowledge-based approaches.