Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Trends in ecology, 2011

What were the topics of research that dominated ecology in 2011, and where is ecology likely to head in 2012?

A brief answer can be found by looking at the most common keywords found in ecology papers published during 2011*. "Abundance" proved the most common keyword. Interestingly, "climate change" and "global warming" appeared less common as keywords compared to last year. In contrast, words tying research to places ("Great Barrier Reef") and systems ("rainforest") seemed more common. Although it's hard to draw any specific conclusions from this kind of thing, it's notable that many of the most common words are related to community ecology, lending credence to Marc Cadotte's assertion that community ecology is flourishing as a discipline.

*Although hardly rigorous, I analyzed the keywords from 4000 randomly selected ecology papers published in 2011 found using a Web of Science search. The most common 150 terms are represented in the word cloud, where text size represents the frequency with which a word appears on the list.


Unknown said...

Nice post.

Do you use R? You could use the rplos package we (rOpenSci) developed recently to analyze *full text* of all PLoS journals.

Scott Chamberlain

Caroline Tucker said...

Thanks Scott! I wasn't aware of the rplos package; I will definitely look in to it for future years.

Thiago Gonçalves Souza said...

Nice post Caroline.

I was just wondering if the trend in the top ecology journals (e.g., Top 20) is dictating the "right" way to go to the remainder ecology journals?

Someone could randomly select "n" ecology papers, but from the "Top 20" journals, and represent the word cloud. Then, compare it with the same "n" ecology paper but from the remainder ecological journals.


Caroline Tucker said...

Definitely Thiago - I imagine that looking only at top journals might be a clearer indicator or what is truly "hot" at a given moment. I also wonder if, given funding cycles and length of time required to take a project to completion, looking at longer time periods might be more informative. For example, comparing keywords from the 1990s to the 2000s might give a more informative picture of how ecology is changing.

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Anonymous said...

Very cool; I always love a Wordle. Thanks for creating this one! Building on your comment, Scott, and on your last one, Caroline, it'd be neat to see how the keyword analysis from open access journals compares to that from popular journals that are not open access.

Sandra Chung said...

oops, bungled the OpenID on my comment. That last one's from me.

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Angela Andrea said...

All´s ideas sound very interesting!!! And more... With this kind of analysis, We could answer how the behavioral ecology, population ecology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology are changing? Are there convergent trends?
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