Scholarly Research and Publications Over Time: Identifying Trends for an Open Access Journal by Applying Data-Mining Methods

Keywords: scholarly-led publishing, open access, data analysis, journals, data mining, research topics


Journal editors of all types of scholarly publishing face various issues and choices in order to support the development of the journals they lead and manage. One particular issue is what strategic choices can be made to enhance the visibility, accessibility and impact of research published in their journal as much as possible. Another issue is how to provide potential authors of the journal with useful information that will support them with their publication choice.

The objective of this study is twofold. First, it aims to provide an approach that can be used by journal editors to identify topical trends in scholarly-led publishing in their journal, in order to better inform potential future authors of the journal. In particular, we analyse what factors impact the trends and research cooperations over time with a view to research topics and thematic streams, regions, and the research methods employed by authors in previous publications. Second, this study derives potential factors responsible for specific journal developments, such as the influence of open access principles, guest editors, indexing systems, research cooperations and topics addressed by the journal on the visibility, accessibility and impact of the journal.

To attain the above-mentioned objectives, this study uses data-mining methods to analyse all the articles published in one journal in particular, namely the (diamond(/platinum) open access e-journal for eDemocracy and Open Government called “JeDEM” (see that was set up in 2009. The methods used are a combination of data mining (such as the text mining, topic modelling, k-means clustering, social network analysis and community detection) of journal content and metadata with further qualitative interpretation of results from a journal management perspective. The qualitative part confirms or challenges the data analysis part, particularly with view to potential outliers or developments that cannot be explained by quantitative data analysis alone. Combined with internal knowledge from the journal management perspective, we are able to provide an interpretative component and are to relate the trends emerging from the data to strategic decisions or publication details.

The results are as follows. First, our study shows the most prominent research topics of the studied journal, and their evolution over time. Second, the research methods employed by authors publishing in the journal are identified, as well as the research cooperations established through publications in the journal. Third, the crucial factors such as indexing, communication with the community and changes in journal management are derived.

The developed approach was found to be useful to gain insights concerning journal developments, and might also be used by editors of other journals to determine their journal strategy. For example, using data mining methods, editors can analyse whether the topics included in their call for papers match the topics on which the journal publishes or whether it needs adaptations to better manage the expectations of future authors of the journal. Thus, our results might also help authors with their publication choices and tracing the evolutionary stages of the studying scientific problem. Finally, our study derives further research questions aiming at achieving a critical assessment of scholarly developments within the publishing sphere over time.

Author Biographies

Judith Schoßböck, Danube University Krems

Judith Schoßböck is a research fellow at the Centre for E-Governance at Danube University Krems. She is Managing Editor of the open access e-journal JeDEM and recipient of the HKPFS scholarship (City University of Hong Kong). Her main research interests are electronic participation and governance, online activism, open scholarship and digital literacy.

Noella Edelmann, Danube University Krems

Dr. Noella Edelmann  is a senior researcher at the Department for Governance and Public Administration at the Danube University Krems. Her main research interests are the digital transformation of governments, organisational behaviour and the use of social media in the public sector as well as Open Access scholarly literature. Noella is the Managing Editor of the international Open Access eJournal for E-Democracy and Open Government (JeDEM), and Chair of the Social Media Track at the EGOV-CeDEM-ePart Conference and a member of IFIP.

Nina Rizun, Gdansk University of Technology

Dr. Nina Rizun is Assistant Professor at the Department of Applied Informatics in Management at the Faculty of Management and Economics of the Gdansk University of Technology. Her main research interests are application of big data and text analytics methods for service quality evaluation, decision-making logic discovery and business sentiment analysis.

Anneke Zuiderwijk, Delft University of Technology

Dr. Anneke Zuiderwijk is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Her research focuses on theory development concerning infrastructural and institutional arrangements that incentivize open data sharing and use behavior by governments, researchers, companies and citizens. Anneke is currently editor-in-chief of the JeDEM open access e-Journal.