Tuesday, May 28, 2024

EPB turns 50

Its hard to believe that Environment and Planning B (EPB) is turning 50. To celebrate the fact, we have a special issue. Among the many number of contributed commentaries and editorials Mike Batty discusses the history of the journal, and I have a paper that reflects  on how EPB (and the authors who have published in it has shaped my own thinking of cities.  

We also have another commentary with Na (Richard) Jiang and the current editors of the journal (Linda See, Seraphim Alvanides, Dani Arribas-Bel, Levi Wolf, Mike Batty and myself) that  explore papers published in the journal over the last 50 years. By taking the abstracts from all the papers, we did some content analysis to look at the trends and themes over the decades. To some extent it was not surprising seeing a rising number of publications over the decades and the decrease in number of single authors papers. But what was quite evident by just generating some word clouds of the key terms in the abstracts, is one one can see that design’, ‘analysis’ and ‘development’ have remained as key concepts throughout the 50 years as shown below.

The top 50 words appearing in the titles of all 50 years and from the 1970s to 2020s

We also dug deeper into the abstracts by using Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) framework, which looks for relationships between words among different abstracts. BERTopic was used to classify all abstracts into 40 topics including one irrelevant or outlier topic. By excluding this outlier topic, 39 topics  emerged. These topics give a good overview of the types of papers that have appeared in EPB over the last 50 years as shown below. 

The evolution of topics over time based on topic modeling.

From the topic modeling, one can see the architectural history of the journal and the publication of quite specialized papers on shape grammars which is evident in topics 2, 5, 13, 14, and 17 while models of urban growth (topic 0) represent one of the main topics of research in the journal over time. Other topics represent emerging challenges, for example, topic 15 on the covid pandemic and topic 7 on climate change related research. If you wish to find out more about this analysis have a look at the commentaries listed below. 

Crooks, A.T. (2024), Environment and Planning B: Its Shaping of Urban Modeling and Me, Environment and Planning B, 51(5) 1020-1022. (pdf)
Crooks, A.T., Jiang, N., See, L. Alvanides, S., Arribas-Bel. D., Wolf, L.J. and Batty, M. (2024), EPB Turns 50 Years Old: An Analytical Tour of the Last Five Decades, Environment and Planning B, 51(5): 1028-1037. (pdf)

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