Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tracking a Discipline's Evolution

Inside Higher Ed
September 16th, 2014

Two Kent State University professors frustrated by the lack of analytical data on the evolution of their discipline have compiled all of the field’s doctoral dissertations into a database to track growth and changes in the field.
Professors David Kaplan and Jennifer Mapes hope their study will provide geographers with a comprehensive overview of shifts in the regions and topics of interest from the ground up.
Some findings were as they expected. Dissertations related to more analytical work, such as geographic information systems, have grown more popular in the past few decades, for example.
But even some of the most basic data compiled in the study have proved interesting, Kaplan said.
When he and Mapes started this study, they’d ask colleagues at conferences and meetings how many dissertations they thought there were in geography.
“People really had no clue,” Kaplan said.
They do now, thanks to Kaplan and Mapes's compilation. There have been 10,290 dissertations, dating back to 1888.
And in recent years, there have been about 300 annual dissertations in geography. That’s a lot for a small field, Kaplan said.

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