Paper labelling was an exercise we categorised papers published in the journal of Global Environmental Change (GEC) in order to gain further insights into the types of papers that were published in the journal and to aid the interpretation of other analyses we employed. The papers were labelled, or categorised, in a bottom-up approach in which categories were established by reading a number of papers from the journal.
Initially we developed a system with seven categories, but these proved either too specific or too closely related, resulting in poor agreement when we categorised papers independently. Thus the number of categories was reduced and their description broadened. The final set included four categories: 1) Empirical, 2) Policy discussion, 3) Research agenda and Research Framework and 4) Other papers. Using this framework we have achieved a reasonable agreement rate (76.6%) between two researchers.
We observed that, at the beginning, the number of empirical papers was quite low and most of the papers fell into the other three categories. However, there was a significant rise of papers reporting empirical studies and a decrease of so-called ‘Other’ papers as the journal developed over the years. Another observation was that the number of empirical papers was negatively correlated with the number of research agenda and policy papers. One possible interpretation is that at the beginning the research field was focussed on policy discussions and research framework and agenda setting, whereas the continuous increase of empirical papers marked the establishment of the research field and its paradigms. Further details can be found in the presentation attached below.