Text analysis of disciplinary research papers

Emily Carey, James Gopsill, Linda Newnes

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding

5 Citations (SciVal)


Research literature terminology illustrates that publications claim to pertain to "disciplinary"approaches and researcher's align themselves to specific, multi-, inter- or trans-disciplinarities. Ambiguity exists in definition and application of disciplinarity, hence there is need to establish a coherent application of disciplinarity. We present results of content analysis of research literature claiming to be inter-, multi-, or transdisciplinary to assist in ascertaining commonalities or differences for those disciplinarities. We analyse the abstracts and keywords of 8834 papers, using n-grams and bi-grams, dating from 1970 until 2018, extracting a list of 76,552 terms for comparison. The top 15 most frequent terms characterise each disciplinarity and Venn diagrams of the top 15 features illustrate differences and overlap. A total of six terms appear common to all approaches in the abstracts, with four shared by multi- and inter-, two between inter- and trans-, and none common to multi- and trans-. The term "social science(s)"appears to be a unique feature in the trans- abstracts and our findings identify common text terms such as the "research"feature, common to all disciplinarities. This supports characterising the nature of transdisciplinarity and its unique differences from other approaches such as inclusion of social science(s).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransdisciplinary Engineering for Complex Socio-Technical Systems - Real-Life Applications - Proceedings of the 27th ISTE International Conference on Transdisciplinary Engineering
EditorsJerzy Pokojski, Maciej Gil, Linda Newnes, Josip Stjepandic, Nel Wognum
PublisherIOS Press BV
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781614994398
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2020
Event27th ISTE International Conference on Transdisciplinary Engineering, TE 2020 - Virtual, Online, Poland
Duration: 1 Jul 202010 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in Transdisciplinary Engineering


Conference27th ISTE International Conference on Transdisciplinary Engineering, TE 2020
CityVirtual, Online


  • Content Analysis
  • Disciplinarity
  • Engineering Research
  • Transdisciplinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Software
  • Algebra and Number Theory
  • Strategy and Management


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