Revisiting the Academic–Practitioner Divide : Evidence from Computational Social Science and Corpus Linguistics

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationPublic Administration Review
Publication statusOnline published - 29 Aug 2023


As a design science, public administration is focused on addressing real-world problems. However, within public administration argument and evidence on the relevance of academic research to practice agendas is equivocal. We investigate the “academic-practitioner divide” using computational social science techniques to identify the topics of “academic”, “academic-practitioner” and practitioner corpora over a 25-year period. Topic modeling results of the 50 topics identified in each of these corpora suggest that the topics of academics and practitioners have more differences than similarities: nearly seven-tenths of the identified topics differ between the practice corpus and the academic and academic-practice corpora. Corpus linguistics analysis is applied to contrast the keyness of topics over time, and the results confirm the largely different agendas of the corpora albeit with some convergence on governance and outcomes. Corpora examined in this article is largely suggestive of a lack of relevance of academic research to practice agendas.

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