- Co-word Maps and Topic Modeling: A Comparison using small and medium-sized corpora (N < 1,000)
- Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
- Volume | Issue number
- 68 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Induced by “big data,” “topic modeling” has become an attractive alternative to mapping co-words in terms of co-occurrences and co-absences using network techniques. Does topic modeling provide an alternative for co-word mapping in research practices using moderately sized document collections? We return to the word/document matrix using first a single text with a strong argument (“The Leiden Manifesto”) and then upscale to a sample of moderate size (n = 687) to study the pros and cons of the two approaches in terms of the resulting possibilities for making semantic maps that can serve an argument. The results from co-word mapping (using two different routines) versus topic modeling are significantly uncorrelated. Whereas components in the co-word maps can easily be designated, the topic models provide sets of words that are very differently organized. In these samples, the topic models seem to reveal similarities other than semantic ones (e.g., linguistic ones). In other words, topic modeling does not replace co-word mapping in small and medium-sized sets; but the paper leaves open the possibility that topic modeling would work well for the semantic mapping of large sets.
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