Modelling Research Topic Trends in Community Forestry

  • Stephen M. ClareEmail author
  • Gordon M. Hickey
Original Paper


How is community forestry (CF) research changing as CF policies mature around the world? In this research note we use bibliometrics and topic modelling to display trends in the geographic foci and research topics mentioned in the abstracts of CF-related research papers published between 1990 and 2017. We find that studies of CF in South Asia make up a substantial proportion of the literature, although CF research in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America has also developed. Using a structural topic model, we identify four major research areas and 20 topics latent in the text of the abstracts analyzed. The trends of topic proportions over time offer evidence of a shift in research focus from broad policy analysis to local outcomes and growing interest in carbon sequestration. Results identify the most prominent CF research topics and demonstrate the potential of topic models to analyze large amounts of scientific literature.


Community-based forestry Sustainable natural resource management Bibliometrics Topic modelling Research gaps 



This research was funded by the NSERC-CREATE Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability (BESS) program, the McGill University and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Neotropical Environment Option program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Supplementary material

11842_2018_9411_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Breakdown of regions by country (DOCX 13 kb)
11842_2018_9411_MOESM2_ESM.docx (25 kb)
All topics, with five highest probability terms and top five frequent and exclusive terms (DOCX 25 kb)
11842_2018_9411_MOESM3_ESM.docx (14 kb)
All journals, conference proceedings, and books from which abstracts were included in database. Count refers to number of abstracts included from each source (DOCX 14 kb)
11842_2018_9411_MOESM4_ESM.docx (160 kb)
All articles included in database (DOCX 159 kb)


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Copyright information

© Steve Harrison, John Herbohn 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesMcGill UniversitySte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada

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