Visualizing social connections in the humanities: Beyond bibliometrics


  • Chris Alen Sula

    An Assistant Professor
    1. School of Information & Library Science at Pratt Institute. He teaches courses in digital humanities, information visualization, knowledge organization and theory of information. In 2006 he co-founded Phylo (the Phylosophy Project) with David R. Morrow to explore the origins of contemporary philosophy by looking at historical relationships among individuals, institutions and ideas
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Editor's Summary

Reflecting the formal record of scholarly communication, bibliometrics in the humanities may inaccurately represent scholars as solitary, making limited references to colleagues. Bibliometric methods are derived from scientific and technical literature, where joint authorship and co-citation are more common than in the humanities. Yet the influence of social connections among humanities scholars is strong and lasting, especially through chains of personal relationships. The most significant social connections among academics are those between student and teacher, among departmental colleagues and, to a lesser extent, among conference participants and association members. Documenting the connections includes acknowledgments and citations but largely goes beyond bibliometrics, drawing on dissertation front matter, attendance records and departmental rosters. Visualization of these connections can disclose invisible colleges and spheres of influence, useful in the humanities as well as other fields.