Shaheen Syed (SAF21 ESR) published the paper “Narrow lenses for capturing the complexity of fisheries: A topic analysis of fisheries science from 1990 to 2016” in the #1 fisheries journal Fish and Fisheries. The paper is an interdisciplinary collaboration with Melania Borit (SAF21 coordinator) and Marco Spruit (Utrecht University) where they used the latest computational tools to identify topics and trends in fisheries journals. Instead of manually reading over 46,000 articles they applied a modern machine learning technique. Their results shed an interesting light on to the last 26 years of fisheries science while providing insights into emerging research areas.

The paper is open-access and can be found here:

or downloaded from here

Here is a short summary of the paper:

Despite increased fisheries science output and publication outlets, the global crisis in fisheries management is as present as ever. Since a narrow research focus may be a contributing factor to this failure, this study uncovers topics in fisheries research and their trends over time. This interdisciplinary research evaluates whether science is diversifying fisheries research topics in an attempt to capture the complexity of the fisheries system, or whether it is multiplying research on similar topics, attempting to achieve an in‐depth, but possibly marginal, understanding of a few selected components of this system. By utilizing latent Dirichlet allocation as a generative probabilistic topic model, we analyse a unique dataset consisting of 46,582 full‐text articles published in the last 26 years in 21 specialized scientific fisheries journals. Among the 25 topics uncovered by the model, only one (Fisheries management) refers to the human dimension of fisheries understood as socio‐ecological complex adaptive systems. The most prevalent topics in our dataset directly relating to fisheries refer to Fisheries management, Stock assessment, and Fishing gear, with Fisheries management attracting the most interest. We propose directions for future research focus that most likely could contribute to providing useful advice for successful management of fisheries.


Syed S, Borit M, Spruit M. Narrow lenses for capturing the complexity of fisheries: A topic analysis of fisheries science from 1990 to 2016. Fish Fish. 2018;00:1–19.