Understanding the Field of Public Affairs through the Lens of Ranked Ph.D. Programs in the United States

Zhiya Zuo, Haifeng Qian, and Kang Zhao



The goal of this article is to understand the multidisciplinary field of public affairs. Based on data and text mining on the profiles and publications of all faculty members from a list of research-oriented U.S. public affairs programs, we describe the landscape of public affairs schools and scholars, identify 15 topics in public affairs research and discuss their trends of change between 1986 and 2015, and show the clustering and hiring networks of public affairs schools. Our results suggest a broader approach to understanding the field of public affairs than the public administration focus in the literature. Although public administration is highly visible in the field, which is evidenced by the journals most favored by public affair scholars, various specific policy areas (such as health, social, urban, environmental, global, and education policies) show strong representations based on our topical analysis of public affairs research.

KEY WORDS: public affairs, policy schools, text mining, topical analysis