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Clustering scientific documents with topic modeling


Topic modeling is a type of statistical model for discovering the latent “topics” that occur in a collection of documents through machine learning. Currently, latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) is a popular and common modeling approach. In this paper, we investigate methods, including LDA and its extensions, for separating a set of scientific publications into several clusters. To evaluate the results, we generate a collection of documents that contain academic papers from several different fields and see whether papers in the same field will be clustered together. We explore potential scientometric applications of such text analysis capabilities.

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  1. K-means was run in R from a inverse document frequency weighted (TfIdf) matrix with Euclidean distance clustering the data to the known number of clusters (7).

  2. Where we take the topical Boolean search results as true; however, we recognize that this is not absolute—knowledgeable authors or readers might classify the articles differently.

  3. Overall the sum of the seven topics F score with LDA was 0.007 smaller. Although this can be seen as small, the larger challenge came from the qualitative analysis of topics. The term clumped approach resulted in terms having a low frequency in any given topic and the overall results being more homogenous. This made assigning topics challenging.

  4. Words removed were: “results”, “paper”, ‘elsevier”, “rights”, “reserved”, “aim”, “aimed”, “aims”, “analyse”, “analysis”, “approach”, “approaches”, “data”, “describe”, “describes”, “discusses”, “discussion”, “dissemination”, “study”, “studies”, “suggests”, “theory”, “view”, “2010”, “2009”, “2008”, “2007”, “2006”, “2005”, “2004”, “2003”, “2002”, “2001”, “2000”, “1999”, “1998”, “1997”, “1996”, “1995”, “1994”, “1993”, “1992”, “1991”, “90”, “article”, “based”.


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We acknowledge support from the US National Science Foundation (NSF - Award #1064146). The findings and observations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF. Arho Suominen also acknowledges the support from the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Project: "Co-evolution of knowledge creation systems and innovation pipelines (CEK)").

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Yau, CK., Porter, A., Newman, N. et al. Clustering scientific documents with topic modeling. Scientometrics 100, 767–786 (2014).

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  • Topic modeling
  • Text analysis
  • Atent dirichlet allocation