The effect of domain knowledge and implicitation on discourse relation inferences
Keywords:discourse relations, relational signals, discourse inferences, domain knowledge
Readers adopt their domain knowledge to make inferences about information that is left implicit in the text. The present research investigates the role of domain knowledge in discourse relation interpretation, as this has not been examined experimentally in previous work. We compare interpretations of experts from the field of economics and biomedical sciences in texts from within and outside of their domain of expertise. The results show that high-knowledge readers are better at inferring the correct relation interpretation compared to low-knowledge readers. This effect was stronger in relations that contained a connective in the original text than in relations that were originally implicit. The study provides insight on the impact of background knowledge on discourse relation inferencing and how readers interpret discourse relations when they lack the required domain knowledge.