Seminar Report


The ‘Interdisciplinary Research Discourse’ project held its second seminar at the University of Birmingham on 29th June. At the seminar, the results of various linguistic analyses, including Multi-Dimensional Analysis, Topic Modelling, and Phraseological Profiling, were presented. The aim of these analyses was to investigate the discourse of the interdisciplinary journal Global Environmental Change, along with 10 other journals dealing with environmental and related issues in the physical and social sciences. In addition, the researchers also interviewed and surveyed writers, reviewers and editors of the journal, the results of which were also presented at the seminar. The two-year project was funded by the ESRC and was supported by Elsevier publishers, who provided a corpus of the journal articles and assisted with conducting the survey and citation analysis.

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Investigating Global Environmental Change: topic modelling (part two)


In the previous post we have presented one part of our topic modelling exercise in which we have investigated which of the 100 identified topics were represented in the journal of Global Environmental Change (GEC) more than any other journal. These topics represent the distinctive aspects of the journal and analysing their distribution over the years will allows us to investigate whether and how the journal has changed over the years. By correlating the results of our labelling exercise and multi-dimensional analysis we can observe in what manner, or which type of papers and contexts, these topics are usually discussed. More importantly, as these topics are computationally calculated groups of words, identifying the contexts in which these topics occur in will allow us to interpret the topics themselves. Continue Reading


Investigating Global Environmental Change: topic modelling (part one)


We have conducted a topic modelling analysis on our corpus of 11 academic journals and created a model with 100 potential ‘topics’. Topics in this sense are collections of words and do not necessarily represent content topics in the traditional sense, like ‘environment protection’ for example. Rather, these topics are groups of words that statistically tend to co-occur in the same paragraphs. Continue Reading


Interim seminar: paper labelling


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. Continue Reading


Discussion: Citations, what are they good for?!

Last week we conducted an analysis of the use of citation in our GEC subcorpus. We decided against using particular framework, but rather have each member of the team provide their insight into the purpose and function of the citations used in the observed articles. We all decided to have a look at 5 articles each and came up with 4 different frameworks how to describe them.
Some of the descriptions were based on frameworks such as Swales’ (1990) distinction between integral and non-integral citations, the others focused on describing function with results akin to Nigel Harwood’s (2008) study, e.g. ‘saving space’, ‘justifying topic’, ‘justifying methdod’ etc. Furthermore, we noticed that in an interdisciplinary journal such as GEC many citations point outside the academia towards governmental and international institutions and their reports. Continue Reading