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Rens van de Schoot from the ASReview team has received a Vici-grant. This prestigious NWO grant of one and a half million euros will enable him to expand his research group over the next five years.

‘Although the award is in my name, this is above all a team achievement, says Van de Schoot. Without UU staff, Jonathan de Bruin at Information and Technology Services (ITS) and Felix Weijdema and Jan de Boer from Utrecht University Library this would never have been possible. What we wanted: to make the enormous pile of scientific literature manageable for users. In this, we saw a big role for AI. The project we built grew into our university’s largest open source software project: ASReview. And now our team is getting the icing on the cake: this Vici grant.’

‘This is above all a team achievement’

Van de Schoot explains that the number of scientific articles is growing at lightning speed. If researchers want to extract relevant information for their own scientific research, they can spend months browsing. ‘That takes an awful lot of time. And on top of that, we humans can make mistakes: we are not necessarily good at screening so many texts. With artificial intelligence, such as large language models, we can speed up and improve this process. But machines also make mistakes.  We will explore how scientists can collaborate with such a language model, and test how well it actually works and which model should be used for which type of data. All this should be open source, so that everyone can access and benefit from the results.’

Prof. Rens van de Schoot

Vici is one of the largest individual science grants in the Netherlands and is aimed at advanced researchers. The funding allows researchers to conduct research of their own choice.