Using semantics to reveal knowledge divides in Dutch development: the case of the Millennium Development Goals


  • Iina Hellsten University of Amsterdam
  • Sarah Cummings


knowledge management, scientometrics, MDGs, global goals, semantic maps, Netherlands


The paper is a first effort at examining the potential of scientometrics analysis to the field of development in the expectation that this type of analysis will make general patterns of knowledge within development more visible. In particular, we assume that it will reveal information on these patterns and in particular on knowledge divergences and divides within the sector. Semantic maps make it possible to compare semantics across the three domains under study, and reveal implicit frames within them. This methodology is tested using a pilot study comparing the semantics around Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in three domains involved in development: policy, science and the mass media. In particular, it compares the semantics on MDGs in the website of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in scientific articles authored by Dutch scholars, and in Dutch newspaper articles. In conclusion, the semantic maps method provided fruitful insights into comparing the semantics of the debate around MDGs in the three separate knowledge domains involved in the debate.


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