What is being published? A word cloud of titles from The Cochrane Library

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Abstract text
Background: Word clouds or tag clouds are a type of picture composed of words, where the prominence with which a word is displayed reflects its frequency in the entered text, that is, the more frequent a word appears in a text the larger it appears in the word cloud. Word clouds are capable of conveying large amounts of textual information in a visually appealing and accessible manner however; it is difficult to determine precise frequency counts from these graphs.

Objectives: To determine the priorities of Cochrane authors, by reviewing the titles of published Cochrane reviews and protocols.

Methods: The titles of all published Cochrane reviews and protocols were retrieved from Issue2, 2012 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. These titles were then entered into an online word cloud generator (http://www.tagxedo.com/app.html, accessed 10 April 2012). Prepositions like ‘for’, ‘or’ and ‘in’ were excluded from the analysis.

Results: A total of 7092 records were retrieved from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. The most striking feature of the word cloud, see Figure 1, is the prominence of the words ‘treatment’, ‘prevention’, ‘therapy’, ‘interventions’ and ‘disease’ reflecting the strong focus of Cochrane reviews on the treatment and prevention of disease. However, there are also many population and disease specific terms prominently displayed for example, ‘cancer’, ‘children’, ‘infection’ and ‘pain’.

Conclusions: Word clouds represent an interesting alternative technique to visualising textual data. While our analyses is limited to published reviews and protocols and while more information may be obtained by examining the full text and abstracts of articles, our analyses do indicate that Cochrane authors deal with a wide range of populations, conditions, interventions and age groups. Importantly however, the primary focus of Cochrane reviews remains focussed on the treatment and prevention of disease.
McGee R1, Craig J2, Webster A2
1 Sydney School of Public Health, Australia
2 Cochrane Renal Group, Australia
Presenting author and contact person
Presenting author: 
Richard McGee
Contact person Affiliation Country
Richard McGee (Contact this person) Sydney School of Public Health Australia