Roberts makes an important point in his note when he draws attention to the limitations of databases both in terms of their coverage of the literature and their retrieval capabilities. These limitations will have two effects on their potential use for creating new knowledge: first, some ‘undiscovered public knowledge’ (to use Swanson's term for apparently novel inferences that could be drawn by making connections between facts that are separated in the existing literature) will escape our notice and second, some of the inferences that are made will turn out not to be new after all since they will have already been suggested in the literature that was not retrieved or not covered by the databases.
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