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Identification and visualization of key topics in scientific publications with transformer-based language models and document clustering methods

With the rapidly growing number of scientific publications, researchers face an increasing challenge of discovering the current research topics and methodologies in a scientific domain. This paper describes an unsupervised topic detection approach that utilizes the new development of transformer-based GPT-3 (Generative Pretrained Transformer 3) similarity embedding models and modern document clustering techniques. In total, 593 publication abstracts across urban study and machine learning domains were used as a case study to demonstrate the three phases of our approach. The iterative clustering phase uses the GPT-3 embeddings to represent the semantic meaning of abstracts and deploys the HDBSCAN (Hierarchical Density-based Spatial Clustering of Applications with Noise) clustering algorithm along with silhouette scores to group similar abstracts. The keyword extraction phase identifies candidate words from each abstract and selects keywords using the Maximal Marginal Relevance ranking algorithm. The keyword grouping phase produces the keyword groups to represent topics in each abstract cluster, again using GPT-3 embeddings, the HDBSCAN algorithm, and silhouette scores. The results are visualized in a web-based interactive tool that allows users to explore abstract clusters and examine the topics in each cluster through keyword grouping. Our unsupervised topic detection approach does not require labeled datasets for training and has the potential to be used in bibliometric analysis in a large collection of publications.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
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