The zeitgeist of behavior analytic research in the 21st century: a keyword analysis

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Behavior analysis appears to be at a crossroads of science and practice. Recent concerns and discussion within the flagship journal of the Association of Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI®; the Behavior Analyst) suggest that basic behavior analytic research has become too esoteric, while applied research has become too focused on service delivery approaches to children with developmental disabilities. Moreover, it has been argued that little overlap between basic and applied research has come via translation between these two wings of our science. The purpose of the present analysis was to chronicle the direction—using keywords—of behavior analytic research from the years 2000–2009 to assess the validity of these concerns and to document the publication trends of flagship journals. Keywords were extracted from each article published in Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, The Analysis of Verbal Behavior and the Behavior Analyst. Data were analyzed using frequency of keywords appearing in each journal as well as across journals. Word clouds were generated from the frequency data to show a visual representation of popular focus areas, where keywords with the highest frequencies appear graphically larger. Additionally, an analysis compared each of the journals with each other to quantify the degree of keyword overlap as a crude index of cross representation.

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