Evolution of research in finance over the last two decades – A topographical view

Yasser Alhenawi, M. Kabir Hassan, Rashedul Hasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


A standard literature review focuses on the historical development of a particular topic. In contrast, the novel approach introduced in this study constructs a topographical map demarcating the relative importance, dispersion, and interrelationship among many finance topics. The final product is a bird’s eye view of the whole literature illustrating historical trends, concentrations, and territories. We apply qualitative analysis, purposive sampling, and syntactic analysis to 34,261 articles published in 52 journals over the past two decades. First, we analyze the proliferation and historical development of topics. We find that a few topics (e.g., insurance) are losing ground to newer ones (e.g., blockchain and digital currency). However, several topics seem to occupy a stable, sizeable portion of finance literature (e.g., investment strategies and portfolio management). Next, we analyze the relationship between topics and journals and report strong tendencies that are not always confined by the traditional scope of journals. For instance, papers addressing investment strategy and portfolio management issues seem to appear in numerous journals; while special topics such as blockchain, digital currencies, dividends, and real estate can only be found in a limited number of journals. We also report strong interdependence among topics. More than a third of the papers screened in this study discuss two topics or more. We identify a list of topics that are likely to be investigated jointly. Overall, our work demonstrates the historical evolution of the entire finance literature; and identifies fertile areas for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101550
JournalResearch in International Business and Finance
Early online date20 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Research in International Business and Finance. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Research in International Business and Finance, 59, (2021) DOI: 10.1016/j.ribaf.2021.101550

© 2021, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Finance
  • Literature review
  • Purposive sampling
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Topographical map

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Finance


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