What does a stem cell word cloud tell us about the field?
Word clouds are fun and informative ways to do textual data mining. I’ve done some in the past that have providing penetrating looks at science including at the whole field of science in 2014.
What has the stem cell field overall been focusing on lately?
I turned to a word cloud to figure it out from the thousands of articles out there.
Above is a word cloud made from all the titles of 2015 articles with “stem cell” or “stem cells” in the title using a simple PubMed search and the WordItOut online tool.
Larger words are used more often. Note that the search terms, “stem”, “cell”, and “cells” were removed along with most commonly used words like “the”.
The word “mesenchymal” stands out as the top word by far.
Substantially smaller are other types of stem cells including “hematopoietic” and even smaller “embryonic” and “pluripotent”. That difference may reflect a significant difference in overall focus for the field. Mesenchymal stem cells are arguably the hottest type of stem cell in 2015 in the field overall. This search could have a bias against IPS cells since my PubMed search focusing on “stem cell(s)” would miss titles with “IPSC” or “IPS cells” in the title without “stem cell(s)” in the same title.
Also standing out as top-used words in stem cell article titles are “human” and “transplantation”, which is an encouraging indication of a focus on getting stem cells translated to the bedside to help patients.
It’s nice to see “differentiation” being an often-used word because so much more emphasis is needed on stem cell differentiation. Coming next in size are “bone” and “cancer”.
Overall, this stem cell word cloud provides a novel window into what the field is publishing this year.