Debbie Knight

A Day in the Life: November 14, 2012

In A Day in the Life, research log on November 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

From time to time, I will give a glimpse into the “glamorous” life of a research associate and talk about what I’m doing in the lab. These entries I will call “A Day in the Life…” 

This week I’ve been burrowing through scientific journal articles, ferreting out information that might help move my research project along. We, in the scientific community, call this a “literature search.” And my work is starting to pay off. So far, I have found one really solid lead that I may pursue.

While I was searching the scientific / medical article database called PubMed (maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology InformationU.S. National Library of Medicine), I noticed a cool feature that I hadn’t seen on this site before. There was this little chart (a histogram) that tells you how many articles were published each year on your topic of interest.

This is useful in that it tells you whether you’re looking at a “hot” area of research. Or what years the research was hot.

For example, I typed in the term “immunoglobulin and complement fixation” and saw this chart:

So in 1973 (the first bar on the left) there were 643 articles published. If I scroll back a few years, the research actually peaked in 1971 with a whopping 730 published articles.

And in 2012? (the bar on the far right) A measly 15 articles. Obviously not the hotbed of research it once was.

When I searched “immunoglobulin subclass,” I got this result:

I’m not sure what was going on in 1990, but that seems to be the peak of this topic’s publication, maxing out at 267 articles.

And when I typed in “nanoparticles” (a relatively new area of research), I got this:

Last year, there were an incredible 11,756 articles published on this topic. Talk about “hot” area of research! This dwarfs the previous two searches. And I’m sure that number will continue to climb.

I was amazed there were two articles on nanoparticles published in 1978.

I’m not sure when PubMed added this feature. Admittedly it’s been a few months since I searched for articles. But I like it.

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