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Learning from the rapidly growing body of scientific articles is constrained by human bandwidth. Existing methods in machine learning have been developed to extract knowledge from human language and may automate this process. Here, we apply sentiment analysis, a type of natural language processing, to facilitate a literature review in reintroduction biology. We analyzed 1,030,558 words from 4,313 scientific abstracts published over four decades using four previously trained lexicon-based models and one recursive neural tensor network model. We find frequently used terms share both a general and a domain-specific value, with either positive (success, protect, growth) or negative (threaten, loss, risk) sentiment. Sentiment trends suggest that reintroduction studies have become less variable and increasingly successful over time and seem to capture known successes and challenges for conservation biology. This approach offers promise for rapidly extracting explicit and latent information from a large corpus of scientific texts.

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