DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly

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Working on and with Categories for Text Analysis: Challenges and Findings from and for Digital Humanities Practices

Guest editors: Dominik Gerstorfer, Evelyn Gius and Janina Jacke

Abstracts due (extended deadline): June 22, 2022

Introduction

In the digital humanities, computational social sciences and related fields, the development and use of category systems (e.g. ontologies, taxonomies or typologies) plays an important role in the systematization and analysis of texts. Categories allow for the linguistic labeling of texts or (textual) phenomena, as well as for their combination or differentiation based on selected relevant features. By selecting suitable parameters for grouping, categories usually allow for a systematic reduction of complexity and the ordering of complex textual artifacts and data sets, which in turn considerably facilitates both their analysis and the communication of analysis results.

At the same time, category systems offer the possibility of a detailed text systematization or description through the formation of subcategories. If category systems are created as ontologies or taxonomies, they can additionally provide information about the relationship of relevant (text) phenomena to each other. Moreover, since the creation of categories usually requires the specification of explicit definitions of terms or categories, the scholarly exchange of information on subjects in the humanities, cultural studies, or social sciences is greatly facilitated – among other things, through easier understanding and better comparability of statements.

While work on and with categories in the traditional humanities remains the exception rather than the rule and is limited to certain sub-disciplines, it is omnipresent in the digital humanities due to the influence of standards from the formal sciences. This omnipresence of category-system development in the digital humanities is in stark contrast to the lack of systematic reflection in this field of research. This concerns questions as: Which categories or which types of category systems are appropriate for (certain) objects in the humanities? What determines the validity and fruitfulness of categories in this field? Which – existing or new – procedures can be used to develop and revise a category system?

We invite contributions addressing these questions. While the work on and with categories used for text annotation and analysis is the one focus, a second focus is on systems and methods for the organization and classification of texts in the context of databases – as well as the connection between these two fields of work in which category systems play a role. This also includes work on ontologies or the establishment and revision of systems for text analyses from information science, as well as mathematical category theory, which has already been successfully applied to knowledge representation and management in the natural sciences. Contributions should be based on concrete studies in the field of the digital humanities and related fields or provide an information science perspective that has been, or can be, adapted in the digital humanities. Contributions about concrete studies should address one or more of the following questions:

  • Through which steps did the development of the analysis concepts used in the analysis take place? Who was involved and when? Were existing categories used or developed further?
  • Which development steps were defined in advance, which ones resulted from the process?
  • Was the type of category system to be developed – e.g. ontology, taxonomy, typology or network of concepts – defined? Why was this form chosen?
  • Were there problems with the categories? Which adjustments of the categories or the development process were necessary?
  • To what extent and, if applicable, how was the development of the analysis categories documented?
  • What recommendations can be derived from experience for similar approaches to category development?
  • How does the procedure relate to non-digital procedures that are common in the original discipline?

Contributions from an information science perspective should address one or more of the following questions:

  • Which aspects of the work done in computer science concerning ontology languages, methodologies, development environments and tools (for visualization, documentation and validation) can fruitfully be applied to the field of digital humanities/social sciences?
  • What are the prerequisites for an application of such computer science or mathematics approaches for working with categories in text analyses?
  • In which way might the adaptation of computer science research on category development to other fields pose difficulties? What are possible solutions?
  • How can these approaches be implemented in concrete research (i.e., use cases from the humanities/social sciences)?

Submission formats

Full papers can be one of the following:

  1. Articles: Article-length pieces describing original research.
  2. Case Studies: Detailed critical analyses of specific projects that contextualize the project within the DH field, and demonstrate its significance for other practitioners
  3. Issues in Digital Humanities: Substantive, provocative opinion-driven essays of any length. (Except in special cases, we don’t expect to have these in a special issue.)
  4. Reviews: Reviews of other publications (digital or print), tools, artworks, conferences, and other relevant material. (Except in special cases, we don’t expect to have these in a special issue.)

Provisional schedule

  • 22 June 2022 (extended deadline): Proposals due to editors (dhq@fortext.org); 750 words plus an indication of the intended DHQ submission format
  • July 2022: Notification of acceptance of proposals sent to authors
  • 25 November 2022: Full papers due (3,000-8,000 words). Submit manuscripts to DHQ at http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/submissions/index.html. (N.B. Acceptance of invited papers will depend on the DHQ peer review process.)
  • February 2023: Notificatinos of acceptance of manuscripts and revision requests
  • April 2023: Revised manuscripts due
  • June 2023: Publication of special issue

Past CFPs can be found in our CFP archive.