In celebration of 500 Donders Wonders blogs: a look back

The Donders Wonders has reached 500 blog posts! To celebrate, today we take a look back at those 500 blogs.

This post is also available in Dutch.

As you may already know from our last two posts, the Donders Wonders blog was founded in 2014 by a group of PhD students at the Donders Institute. Since then, the Donders Wonders has grown to an average of 627 views per day. A large majority of our readers (you!) are located in the Netherlands, followed by the U.S. and Belgium. However, according to our site stats, the Donders Wonders has reached more than 150 countries. That’s amazing and we’re so grateful for all of you!

“On brains and science?”

If you had to describe the Donders Wonders to a friend, how would you describe it? Our slogan is “on brains and science,” but do we stay true to our word? To find out, we made a word cloud of our blog posts.

A word cloud (aka tag cloud) is a visual representation of text content, with the relative size (and sometimes color) of each word in the cloud reflecting its frequency in certain source, such as a website or book: the larger a word is, the more often it occurs. We analyzed the words used most often in Donders Wonders’ first 500 blogs.

We did this by first removing non-informative words (referred to as “stop words”) such as “the,” “different,” and “example” that occur frequently in general1. The resulting list of words (pictured below) is a better representation of the content of our blogs.

A word cloud of the most frequently used words in Donders Wonders’ English blogs. (Only the top 999 words are pictured, due to limited space.)

Word frequencies obtained using the R packages tm, wordcloud and SnowballC. Background image originally by Henry Vandyke Carter via Wikipedia Commons (public domain).

As you can see, true to our slogan, the most frequent (biggest) words have to do with the “brain” (with 1369 occurrences) and science. Within science, our most-blogged about topics are language (359 occurrences), memory (255), stress (239), and pain (221). This is consistent with our most popular topics (which you can find on the menu to the right of this blog): science (127 blog posts) and health (106 blog posts).

Your favorite blog posts

But what do our readers come to Donders Wonders for? To examine this question, we took a look at our most popular blog posts. Because older posts have a higher chance of having more views just because they’ve been published longer, we ranked our blog posts by number of views per days published. The top 10 Donders Wonders blog posts of all-time are:

RankTitleTranslation (if applicable)AuthorDate publishedViews
1When trauma affects decision making Lara Todorova11/9/179613
2“Zo licht als een veertje” ontmaskerd door de wetenschap“As light as a feather” exposed by science (blog only available in Dutch)Romy Bakker30/4/1512,703
3Compassie is beter dan empathieCompassion is more helpful than empathyClara García-Gorro9/10/175121
4The neuroscience of transgender identity: Transgender brains match their gender identityLara Todorova3/4/176078
5De pil beïnvloedt de hersenen en gedragThe birth control pill influences brain and behaviorAngelique Tinga30/4/182797
6Hoe werkt smaak?How does taste work?Annelies van Nuland17/5/164961
7Wat is een ‘meme’?What is a Meme?Jeroen van Baar11/5/173433
8The dilemma young scientists face: Should I work without getting paid?Marisha Manahova16/9/19473
9Zonnesteek: een aanval op je breinHeat Stroke: An attack on your brainRalf Weijs6/7/172764
10Sporten is goed voor je hersenenExercising is good for your brain (blog only available in Dutch)Jeanette Mostert26/6/145236

So now we’d like to ask you: What is your favorite Donders Wonders blog? Have you been wondering about something we haven’t blogged about yet? Leave your wonderings and topic suggestions in a comment and we’ll have a look! Who knows? Maybe our next blog post will be your favorite!


1Stop word exclusion was based on lists from Lewis et al. (2004), the Snowball stemmer project (license), and Gene Diaz (MIT License).

Original language: English

Author: Mónica Wagner
Buddy: Christienne Damatac
Translator: Wessel Hieselaar
Editor translation: Ellen Lommerse

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