Themes in Academic Literature: Prejudice and Social Justice

David Rozadous

Previous scholarly literature has documented a marked increase of words denoting prejudice and social justice themes in news media content.1 This work investigates the prevalence dynamics of such terms in academic papers published in all fields of knowledge. We use the Semantic Scholar Open Research Corpus (SSORC) containing, as of 2020, over 175 million published scholarly articles and associated metadata.2 We quantify the prevalence of words denoting prejudice against ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, minority religious sentiment, age, body weight and disability in SSORC abstracts over the period 1970-2020. We then examine the relationship between the prevalence of such terms in the academic literature and their concomitant prevalence in news media content. Finally, we also analyze the temporal dynamics of an additional set of terms associated with social justice discourse in both the scholarly literature and in news media content. Taken together, these analyses allow us to illuminate the chronological dynamics of prejudice and social justice themes in academic discourse as well as their relationship with news media content.