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Journal Article

Topic modelling exposes disciplinary divergence in research on the nexus between human mobility and the environment


Zander,  Kerstin
External Organizations;

Garnett,  Stephen
External Organizations;

Sterly,  Harald
External Organizations;

Ayeb-Karlsson,  Sonja
External Organizations;


Sedova,  Barbora
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Lotze-Campen,  Hermann
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Richerzhagen,  Carmen
External Organizations;

Baggen,  Hunter
External Organizations;

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Zander, K., Garnett, S., Sterly, H., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Sedova, B., Lotze-Campen, H., Richerzhagen, C., Baggen, H. (2022): Topic modelling exposes disciplinary divergence in research on the nexus between human mobility and the environment. - Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9, 34.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_26529
Human mobility is increasingly associated with environmental and climatic factors. One way to explore how mobility and the environment are linked is to review the research on different aspects of the topic. However, so many relevant articles are published that analysis of the literature using conventional techniques is becoming prohibitively arduous. To overcome this constraint, we have applied automated textual analysis. Using unsupervised topic modelling on 3,197 peer-reviewed articles on the nexus between mobility and the environment published over the last 30 years, we identify 37 major topics. Based on their language use, the topics were deeply branched into two categories of focus: Impact and Adaptation. The Impact theme further clustered into sub-themes on vulnerability and residential mobility while articles within the Adaptation theme clustered into governance, disaster management and farming. The analysis revealed opportunities for greater collaboration within environmental mobility research, particularly improved integration of adaptation and impact research. The topic analysis also revealed that, in the last 30 years, very little research appears to have been undertaken in migration destinations or on the fate of environmentally-influenced migrants during their migration process and after arriving in a new location. There are also research gaps in gender and Indigenous issues within the Impact theme, as well as on adaptive capacity and capacity-building.