Exploring research issues in selected forest journals 1979–2008
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• Forest science and policy have experienced significant changes under the pressure of global change. Assuming that scientific publications mirror contemporary issues, our objective was to verify whether titles of articles show a temporal trend, and whether it coincides with the new agenda set by sustainable forest management.
• We used ISI Web of Science to collect articles published 1979–2008 in 6 peer-reviewed forest(ry) journals (n = 20677). We split titles into strings and processed them to increase the homogeneity of our sample. We applied principal components analysis (PCA) as an indirect gradient analysis. We also searched titles for words related to the social, political and economic components of forestry.
• The PCA ordination revealed a dominant and distinct time gradient in the use of title words in our corpus. A few words have disappeared, but those with a positive trend clearly dominate, reflecting an opening of forest science towards more process-oriented research, especially in ecology and environmental and climate change. However, socio-economic aspects are still underrepresented.
• In our study, titles of forest(ry) publications increasingly include topics from neighboring natural sciences, but still very few from socio-economic disciplines.