Do medicine and cell biology talk to each other? A study of vocabulary similarities between fields
A close interaction between basic science and applied medicine is to be expected. Therefore, it is important to measure how far apart the field of cell biology and medicine are. Our approach to estimating the distance between these fields was to compare their vocabularies and to quantify the difference in word repertoire. We compared the vocabulary of the title and abstract of articles available in PubMed in two selected high-impact journals in each field: cell biology, medicine, and translational science. Although each journal has its own editorial policy, we showed that within each field there is a small vocabulary difference between the two journals. We developed a word similarity index that can measure how much journals share a common vocabulary. We found a high similarity index between each cell biology (91%), medical (71-74%), and translational journal (65%). In contrast, the comparison between medicine and biology journals produced low correlation values (22-36%), suggesting that their vocabularies are quite dissimilar. Translational medicine journals had medium similarity values when compared to cell biology journals (52-70%) and medicine journals (27-59%). This approach was also performed in 10-year periods to evaluate the evolution of each field. Using the “onomics” strategy presented here, we observed that differences in vocabulary of basic science and medicine have been increasing over time. Since translational medicine has an intermediate vocabulary, we confirmed that translational medicine is an efficient approach to bridge this gap.