Qian et al - Beyond iTunes for Papers - Redefining the Unit of Interaction in Literature Review Tools

Zotero and similar software orients literature review and knowledge synthesis around the {paper} as the fundamental unit, but {Grounded claims, after Qian et al} may be a more suitable atom for cognitive supports.

Syntopic reading requires that the reader juggle and synthesize claims across many papers; because the software makes papers the primary unit, it misses the opportunity to support making connections between claims within the papers. It’s costly to manipulate grounded claims when papers are the primary unit, because readers must {predict in advance which claims will be useful} and deliberately extract them (along with relevant context) to some other shared space (e.g. a text editor).

The authors prototyped a software system, Knowledge Compressor (video), which centers on grounded claims instead of on papers. It augments the PDF reading experience with a tool which allows the reader to summarize an excerpt with a short claim, then to connect those claims (now acting like handles) to related claims from other papers.

Q. Generate a grounded claim (as described by Qian et al). Create one you haven't used before.
A. (eg: Human channel capacity increases roughly linearly as chunk size increases, per Miller 1956's survey of various examples across modalities and scales)

Q. What types of connections can be made in Knowledge Compressor?
A. Claim/paper (many:many), claim/claim (many:many)


References

Qian, X., Erhart, M. J., Kittur, A., Lutters, W. G., & Chan, J. (2019). Beyond iTunes for Papers: Redefining the Unit of Interaction in Literature Review Tools. Conference Companion Publication of the 2019 on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, 341–346. https://doi.org/10.1145/3311957.3359455

Grounded claims, after Qian et al

When researchers synthesize knowledge (for instance by reading academic literature) they must assemble a densely connected web of “grounded claims”: precise statements including enough context (sources, evidence, scope, connections) to help the researcher practically use the claim in practice.

This construct is related to my practice of factoring notes so that they can have sharp titles acting like APIs (Evergreen note titles are like APIs). Both notions emphasize atomicity and precision. Grounded claims emphasize evidence and provenance to a greater degree. Evergreen note titles have a somewhat broader scope, since they’re not necessarily trying to be statements of fact (e.g. To what extent is exceptional ability heritable?).

This figure (Qian et al, 2019) illustrates a claim with its grounding context:


References

Qian, X., Erhart, M. J., Kittur, A., Lutters, W. G., & Chan, J. (2019). Beyond iTunes for Papers: Redefining the Unit of Interaction in Literature Review Tools. Conference Companion Publication of the 2019 on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, 341–346. https://doi.org/10.1145/3311957.3359455 Qian et al - Beyond iTunes for Papers - Redefining the Unit of Interaction in Literature Review Tools