Extracting and understanding information, themes and relationships from large collections of documents is an important task for biomedical researchers. Latent Dirichlet Allocation is an unsupervised topic modeling technique using the bag-of-words assumption that has been applied extensively to unveil hidden thematic information within large sets of documents. In this paper, we added MeSH descriptors to the bag-of-words assumption to generate ‘hybrid topics’, which are mixed vectors of words and descriptors. We evaluated this approach on the quality and interpretability of topics in both a general corpus and a specialized corpus. Our results demonstrated that the coherence of ‘hybrid topics’ is higher than that of regular bag-of-words topics in the specialized corpus. We also found that the proportion of topics that are not associated with MeSH descriptors is higher in the specialized corpus than in the general corpus.
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