Citation prediction by leveraging transformers and natural language processing heuristics

Buscaldi, Davide; Dessí, Danilo; Motta, Enrico; Murgia, Marco; Osborne, Francesco and Reforgiato Recupero, Diego (2023). Citation prediction by leveraging transformers and natural language processing heuristics. Information Processing & Management, 61(1), article no. 103583.



In scientific papers, it is common practice to cite other articles to substantiate claims, provide evidence for factual assertions, reference limitations, and research gaps, and fulfill various other purposes. When authors include a citation in a given sentence, there are two considerations they need to take into account: (i) where in the sentence to place the citation and (ii) which citation to choose to support the underlying claim. In this paper, we focus on the first task as it allows multiple potential approaches that rely on the researcher’s individual style and the specific norms and conventions of the relevant scientific community. We propose two automatic methodologies that leverage transformers architecture for either solving a Mask-Filling problem or a Named Entity Recognition problem. On top of the results of the proposed methodologies, we apply ad-hoc Natural Language Processing heuristics to further improve their outcome. We also introduce s2orc-9K, an open dataset for fine-tuning models on this task. A formal evaluation demonstrates that the generative approach significantly outperforms five alternative methods when fine-tuned on the novel dataset. Furthermore, this model’s results show no statistically significant deviation from the outputs of three senior researchers.

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