Short Statement of Research Philosophy
My research seeks to illuminate how we can use digital technologies to highlight scholarship bridging communities of researchers that don’t often cite one another, bringing different academic traditions with common values and practices into conversation.
This research program involves combining methodologies from English with others not typical in my field. I draw on my graduate training in writing studies research methods and threshold concepts, computational text analysis, text-encoding, and digital archives, as well as grant-funded project management and research experience. However, my work also involves exporting and parsing bibliometric data from large databases and using computational methods to transform this tabular data for analysis and visualization. I thus use my knowledge of disciplinary writing practices to navigate the literature beyond my fields and implement digital methods with feedback from colleagues in other disciplines.
What defines my digital scholarship, however, is not only that I use digital methods to answer disciplinary questions, but how I use digital methods to answer disciplinary questions. As a digital humanist, I understand data analysis as an exploratory practice: it can corroborate what we may already know about our interests and assumptions, answer novel research questions we may have, and prompt further questions based on the patterns we see in the results from our situated vantages. As I’ve argued in “Transforming Text: Four Valences of a Digital Humanities Informed Writing Analytics,” for the Journal of Writing Analytics, working with data (cleaning, transforming, analyzing, and presenting it) is a means of writing just as writing is a means of analytical rearrangement. Treating text as malleable data abides with digital rhetoric scholars’ understanding of writing and coding as resonant practices. Rendering this approach legible in the field of writing studies, I advocate for an emphasis on data analysis and data pedagogy as rhetoric.
My dissertation project, “Re-Landscaping Digital Scholarship: A Computational Analysis of Citations in Digital Humanities and Writing Studies,” argues that bibliometric methods like citation analysis can be tactical means of bringing together resonant work from disparate academic traditions that have shared values and practices, as well as for resisting scholarly analytics’ potential to reproduce inequity. Digital humanities scholars have imported co-citation analysis methods from information science to plot network graphs, in which publications are represented by nodes arranged based on how commonly they are cited together in other publications. These plots are material instantiations of writing studies’ conceptual model for citations — as inscriptions of scholars’ mental maps of their disciplinary networks.
In early work with co-citation analysis, bibliometricians made plots of co-citation counts that resembled a physicist’s potential diagram or a geographer’s contoured map of mountain terrain; researchers used topographical metaphors to position themselves as the subjective analysts of these citation “landscapes,” locating relative geographies of research specialties and wandering “paths” through their surveys. Returning to this methodology, I reconcile contemporary metaphors for disciplines like “networked communities of practice” with more enduring metaphors for disciplines as “territories” that that we plant flags in and draw borders around.
The project critiques how these land-based metaphors structure the bibliometric methods that underpin information retrieval and indexed data used for scholarly advancement. I adopt writing and rhetoric’s conceptual view of metaphor — as an element of language that structures what we know and value, rather than a figurative embellishment found only in “creative” writing — to better understand how these techniques can be used to change what we value and how we map it. While bibliometrics tend to propagate inequity by continuing to emphasize already highly-cited material, they also serve a transformative rhetorical purpose: surfacing work happening at the borderlands between fields.
I’ve structured my dissertation according to rhetorician Jacqueline Jones Royster’s heuristic for disciplinary “landscaping”—re-designing intellectual space—in “separable processes” of “story-telling,” “history-telling,” and “theory-making.” Each chapter uses methods that manifest differently in form: an evocative autoethnography of mixing texts and methods, an interactive code notebook applying co-citation methods to my corpus of citation data to find work that “bridges” fields, and a close reading of metaphor in bibliometric scholarship with disciplinary rhetoric.
Editors’ Introduction, General Issue with Forum on Data and Comuptational Pedagogy, with Kelly Hammond and Brandon Walsh, in Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, 18 (2020).
“DH2018: A Space to Build Bridges,” with Molly Nebiolo, in Digital Humanities Quarterly, 13.1 (2019).
“Transforming Text: Four Valences of a Digital Humanities Informed Writing Analytics,” in The Journal of Writing Analytics, Vol 1 (2017)