State of the art in S-LCA: integrating literature review and automatic text analysis

  • Gabriella Arcese
  • Maria Claudia Lucchetti
  • Ilaria Massa
  • Clara Valente



Social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) method lacks of standard and code of practice. The aim of the study is to classify the wide variety of contributions on S-LCA for tracking the development of different themes and for defining and classifying the main approaches in a systematic and reproducible way.


The research addressed to study a collection of 51 articles published between January 2006 and November 2014 using statistical criteria. We used automatic text analysis (ATA) tools related to lexicon analysis to identify keywords useful in tracing the main topics covered in articles published in different periods. We conducted principal component analysis (PCA) to classify the different approaches in the literature and to outline the orientations of the various research groups.

Results and discussion

The results from lexicon analysis showed a rapid succession of different topics covered in the analyzed period. This alternation is strongly affected by the introduction of UNEP/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) S-LCA guidelines and methodological sheets. PCA analysis enabled to synthesize the information related to the numerous approaches. Results did not show a clear division into groups which indicates the absence of a dominant position on the subject in the literature.


This study attempted to map the state of art in S-LCA integrating literature review with multivariate statistical techniques. The analysis showed a highly fragmented field. These results confirm the existence of a variety of approaches that in part have already been identified by literature reviews on S-LCA. Alignment with the results in the literature confirms ATA to be a suitable instrument for the realization of reviews. Moreover, being systematic and reproducible allows ATA to be applied repeatedly, expanding the number of articles and topics analyzed.


Approaches synthesis Automatic text analysis (ATA) Literature review Principal component analysis (PCA) Social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriella Arcese
    • 1
  • Maria Claudia Lucchetti
    • 1
  • Ilaria Massa
    • 2
  • Clara Valente
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Business StudiesRoma Tre UniversityRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of ManagementSapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  3. 3.Østfoldforskning ASKråkerøyNorway

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