Multi-Dimensional Analysis, text constellations, and interdisciplinary discourse
Multi-Dimensional Analysis (MDA) has been widely used to explore register variation. This paper reports on a project using MDA to explore the features of an interdisciplinary academic domain. Six dimensions of variation are identified in a corpus of 11,000 journal articles in environmental studies. We then focus on articles in one interdisciplinary journal, Global Environmental Change (GEC). It is expected that these articles will diverge sufficiently to produce differences that are analogous to register differences. Instead of identifying these “registers” on external criteria, we use the dimensional profiles of individual texts to identify ‘constellations’ of texts sharing combinations of features. Six such constellations are derived, consisting of texts with commonalities in their approaches to research: the development of predictive models; quantitative research; discussions of theory and policy; and human-environment studies focusing on individual voices. The identification of these constellations could not have been achieved through an a priori categorisation of texts.
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