Tag Archives: text-mining

Interestingly: the sentence adverbs of PubMed Central

Scientific writing – by which I mean journal articles – is a strange business, full of arcane rules and conventions with origins that no-one remembers but to which everyone adheres.

I’ve always been amused by one particular convention: the sentence adverb. Used with a comma to make a point at the start of a sentence, as in these examples:

Surprisingly, we find that the execution of karyokinesis and cytokinesis is timely…
Grossly, the tumor is well circumscribed with fibrous capsule…
Correspondingly, the short-term Smad7 gene expression is graded…

The example that always makes me smile is interestingly. “This is interesting. You may not have realised that. So I said interestingly, just to make it clear.”

With that in mind, let’s go looking for sentence adverbs in article abstracts.
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Abstract word clouds using R

A recent question over at BioStar asked whether abstracts returned from a PubMed search could easily be visualised as “word clouds”, using Wordle.

This got me thinking about ways to solve the problem using R. Here’s my first attempt, which demonstrates some functions from the RCurl and XML packages.

update: corrected a couple of copy/paste errors in the code
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