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13.08.2020 15:09

New article shows innovative methodology in scientometric research

A new article by Andreas Rehs published in Scientometrics develops and tests an approach of machine learning based on structural topic modeling in order to measure scientific thematic change.

On the basis of titles of dissertations at German universities before and after German reunification the author shows how innovative methodology can help to quantify thematic differences in large scientific text collections. The full text of the article “A structural topic model approach to scientific reorientation of economics and chemistry after German reunification. (Scientometrics (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-020-03640-0 is available online.

In order to understand scientific change - one of the core areas of higher education and science research - the change of topics in different disciplines has to be understood. Since no one can reliably categorize every research or paper in any discipline, the detection of differences or similarities in scientific publications is an open problem in scientometric research. Therefore, alternative methods such as the statistical modeling of large scientific text collections are necessary to quantify thematic differences. In his article, Andreas Rehs shows how innovative methodology may offer clues for scientific change in different disciplines. The data set used is based on dissertations in economics, business administration, and chemistry from 1980 to 2010 from East and West German universities.

The difference between East and West before the reunification or the scientific change in East and West Germany after the reunification offers an excellent field, as a system change has taken place and, depending on the discipline, a more or less strong change in topics can be expected which can be studied with this new methodology.

The results on economics and business administration suggest substantial differences between East and West Germany before the reunification and a rapid conformation thereafter, whereas in chemistry minor differences can be observed between East and West before the reunification and a slightly increased similarity thereafter.