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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to describe the underlying topics and the topic evolution in the 50-year history of educational leadership research literature.

Methods: We used automated text data mining with probabilistic latent topic models to examine the full text of the entire publication history of all 1,539 articles published in Educational Administration Quarterly from 1965 to 2014. Given the computationally intensive data analysis required by probabilistic topic models, relying on high performance computing, we used a 10-fold cross validation to estimate the model in which we categorized each article in each year into one of 19 latent topics and illustrated the rise and fall of topics over the EAQ’s 50-year history.

Findings: Our model identified a total of 19 topics from the 1965-2014 EAQ corpus. Among them, five topics—inequity and social justice, female leadership, school leadership preparation and development, trust, and teaching and instructional leadership—gained research attention over the 50-year time period; whereas the research interest appears to have declined for the topic of epistemology of educational leadership since the 2000s. Other topics waxed and waned over the last five decades.

Implications: This study maps the temporal terrain of topics in the educational leadership field over the past 50 years, and sheds new light on the development and current status of the central topics in educational leadership research literature. More importantly, the panoramic view of topical landscape provides a unique backdrop as scholars contemplate the future of educational leadership research.


Accepted manuscript version of an article published by Sage in:

Wang, Y., Bowers, A. J., & Fikis, D. (2017). Automated text data mining analysis of five decades of educational leadership research literature: Probabilistic topic modeling of EAQ articles from 1965 to 2014. Educational Administration Quarterly, 53(2), 289-323.