Terms in journal articles associating with high quality: can qualitative research be world-leading?
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractPurpose: Scholars often aim to conduct high quality research and their success is judged primarily by peer reviewers. Research quality is difficult for either group to identify, however, and misunderstandings can reduce the efficiency of the scientific enterprise. In response, we use a novel term association strategy to seek quantitative evidence of aspects of research that associate with high or low quality. Design/methodology/approach: We extracted the words and 2–5-word phrases most strongly associating with different quality scores in each of 34 Units of Assessment (UoAs) in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. We extracted the terms from 122,331 journal articles 2014-2020 with individual REF2021 quality scores. Findings: The terms associating with high- or low-quality scores vary between fields but relate to writing styles, methods, and topics. We show that the first-person writing style strongly associates with higher quality research in many areas because it is the norm for a set of large prestigious journals. We found methods and topics that associate with both high- and low-quality scores. Worryingly, terms associating with educational and qualitative research attract lower quality scores in multiple areas. REF experts may rarely give high scores to qualitative or educational research because the authors tend to be less competent, because it is harder to make world leading research with these themes, or because they do not value them. Originality: This is the first investigation of journal article terms associating with research quality.
CitationThelwall, M., Kousha, K., Abdoli, M., Stuart, E., Makita, M., Wilson, P. and Levitt, J. (2023) Terms in journal articles associating with high quality: can qualitative research be world-leading? Journal of Documentation, 79(5), pp. 1110-1123. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-12-2022-0261
JournalJournal of Documentation
DescriptionThis is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Emerald in Journal of Documentation on 07/02/2023, available online: https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-12-2022-0261 The accepted version of the publication may differ from the final published version.
SponsorsThis study was funded by Research England, Scottish Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland as part of the Future Research Assessment Programme (https://www.jisc.ac.uk/future-research-assessment-programme).
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/