Blog Archives

Project Tycho, ggplot2 and the shameless stealing of blog ideas

April 14, 2015
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Project Tycho, ggplot2 and the shameless stealing of blog ideas

Last week, Mick Watson posted a terrific article on using R to recreate the visualizations in this WSJ article on the impact of vaccination. Someone beat me to the obvious joke. @BioMickWatson @pathogenomenick Nice quilt plot. — Ed Yong (@edyong209) April 9, 2015 Someone also beat me to the standard response whenever base R graphics

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Configuring the R BatchJobs package for Torque batch queues

March 31, 2015
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Configuring the R BatchJobs package for Torque batch queues

I was asked recently to look at some R code which performs “embarrassingly parallel” computations (the same function, multiple times, different parameters) and see whether I could modify it to run on one of our high-performance computing clusters. The machine has 63 virtual compute nodes and uses the TORQUE batch queue system to allocate nodes

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PubMed retraction reporting update

March 23, 2015
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PubMed retraction reporting update

Just a quick update to the previous post. At the helpful suggestion of Steve Royle, I’ve added a new section to the report which attempts to normalise retractions by journal. So for example, J. Biol. Chem. has (as of now) 94 retracted articles and in total 170 842 publications indexed in PubMed. That becomes (100

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PMRetract: PubMed retraction reporting rewritten as an interactive RMarkdown document

March 22, 2015
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PMRetract: PubMed retraction reporting rewritten as an interactive RMarkdown document

Back in 2010, I wrote a web application called PMRetract to monitor retraction notices in the PubMed database. It was written primarily as a way for me to explore some technologies: the Ruby web framework Sinatra, MongoDB (hosted at MongoHQ, now Compose) and Heroku, where the app was hosted. I automated the update process using

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Just how many retracted articles are there in PubMed anyway?

March 19, 2015
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Just how many retracted articles are there in PubMed anyway?

I am forever returning to PubMed data, downloaded as XML, trying to extract information from it and becoming deeply confused in the process. Take the seemingly-simple question “how many retracted articles are there in PubMed?” Well, one way is to search for records with the publication type “Retracted Article”. As of right now, that returns

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Make prettier documents by reusing chunks in RMarkdown

February 23, 2015
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Make prettier documents by reusing chunks in RMarkdown

No revelations here, just a little R tip for generating more readable documents. There are times when I want to show code in a document, but I don’t want it to be the first thing that people see. What I want to see first is the output from that code. In this silly example, I

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Counting things is hard for a given value of “things”

December 1, 2014
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Counting things is hard for a given value of “things”

This post is just a summary of some interesting online discussion from last week around open access publishing. I learned a few things about definitions and PubMed/PMC filters. It all begins with an opinion piece, “Open access is tiring out peer reviewers.” With a title like that you might expect rebuttals from people like Michael

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Bioinformatics journals: time from submission to acceptance, revisited

October 13, 2014
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Bioinformatics journals: time from submission to acceptance, revisited

Before we start: yes, we’ve been here before. There was the Biostars question “Calculating Time From Submission To Publication / Degree Of Burden In Submitting A Paper.” That gave rise to Pierre’s excellent blog post and code + data on Figshare. So why are we here again? 1. It’s been a couple of years. 2.

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PubMed Publication Date: what is it, exactly?

September 23, 2014
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PubMed Publication Date: what is it, exactly?

File this one under “has troubled me (and others) for some years now, let’s try to resolve it.” Let’s use the excellent R/rentrez package to search PubMed for articles that were retracted in 2013. 117 articles. Now let’s fetch the records in XML format. Next question: which XML element specifies the “Date of publication” (PDAT)?

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Ebola, Wikipedia and data janitors

September 21, 2014
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Ebola, Wikipedia and data janitors

Sometimes, several strands of thought come together in one place. For me right now, it’s the Wikipedia page “Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa”, which got me thinking about the perennial topic of “data wrangling”, how best to provide public data and why I can’t shake my irritation with the term “data science”. Not to

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