Prof. Dr. Christoph Bieber
Head of Reseacrh Incubator
+49 234 544 96 062
To identify potentially important topics in digitalization research, CAIS conducted an automated content analysis of key text documents. An insight into the process and the insights gained.
Anticipating social developments and reacting to them in an appropriate way are key tasks for political and social actors. But which digitalization topics does the political domain address in the first place? And which of these does it address in the short- or medium-term? How do funding bodies (e.g. the German Research Foundation and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research) act in this field? Do they have different focal points? And which topics with a focus on the digital transformation do other institutions address?
To answer these questions, we conducted an automated text analysis of such key documents in fall 2020. Together with the findings of the online real-time Delphi study of fall 2019, as well as the expert discussions with researchers in digitalization research conducted a year later, this automated text analysis is a further component whereby CAIS identifies research topics of future significance.
The automated text analysis of 471 documents included important texts, such as the digitalization strategies of federal states, calls for research projects issued by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and self-descriptions of existing research contexts with a digital focus. Data collection took place between 20 August and 7 September 2020. Drawing on the bag-of-words approach, we gained an exploratory insight into the basic structures and themes of the texts.
Due to the selection of sources, words such as “digitalization” and “digital” naturally take center stage. The focus of the texts on a business-related, practice-oriented vocabulary indicates that the discussion in the texts is strongly related to the application of digital technologies (see also Figure 2). Besides a focus on policy- and business-related content, a topic-modeling approach (LDA) also reveals a high proportion of research-related vocabulary.
Analyzing the overlap between topics from the real-time Delphi study and from the expert discussions on the one hand, and topics from the automated text analysis on the other, points to a focus on the topic of IT/cybersecurity. There are also overlaps, for example, with regard to the topics of digital literacy, surveillance, and environmental protection.
Since the text corpus in its current form is too small and too heterogeneous, the methods used have not yet been able to produce sufficiently precise results. Nevertheless, they do give us valuable indications of the focal points emphasized by different social and political actors with regard to issues of digitalization. Expanding the data basis and sharpening the analytical tools will help improve the process, although, being constantly aligned with the other components, it already fits into the overall structure of identifying topics for the CAIS research programs on digitalization research.
The whole process of identifying topics can be seen in the video.