dh quantified

A Review of Quantitative Analyses of the Digital Humanities

As an historian who combines quantitative and qualitative methods to study the scholarly activities of dead scientists, it’s no shock that I sometimes turn the macroscope back on my own scholarly community. Other people do too, and there’s enough of them to warrant a list/review, so here it is.

Please contribute missing pieces in the comments, and I’ll add them.

Conferences & Events

There are a bunch of conferences, large and small, regional and global, digital humanities and humanities computing. Data for these are usually culled from conference programs. In some cases, submission data are also available, allowing for acceptance statistics.

The largest international conference is hosted by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO). The only other DH-related event that I know of that rivals ADHO’s in size is the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) in Victoria.


Before ADHO, the equivalent conference was ACH/ALLC. In the LLC article “Disciplined: Using Educational Studies to Analyse ‘Humanities Computing’“, Melissa Terras asks about the disciplinarity of Humanities Computing from an educational perspective. Part of the piece is a concordance analysis of ACH/ALLC conference abstracts from 1996-2005 (excluding 2003), another section looks at ALLC/ACH/Humanist-L membership statistics, and a large portion of it provided an in-depth analysis of people, topics, and geography at ACH/ALLC 2005.

More recently, I have worked on quantitative analyses of ADHO conferences, both submissions and acceptances, in a series of blog posts.  They cover topic, people, geography, and peer review bias. I’ve covered ADHO 2013 (1, 2), 2014 (1, 2), 2015 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), and 2016 (1, 2, …).

With Nickoal Eichmann, I started exploring earlier conferences in a similar fashion. We presented “What’s under the Big  Tent?” at DHSI 2015, looking at gender, geography, and topic at ADHO’s DH2004-DH2014, a closer look of which is hopefully forthcoming in Digital Studies / Le champ numérique.

With Nickoal Eichmann and Jeana Jorgensen, I explore ADHO’s DH2000-DH2015, looking specifically at diversity-related issues at the conference. “Representation at Digital Humanities Conferences (2000-2015)” will hopefully appear in an upcoming book, Feminist Debates in Digital Humanities, in 2017.

European Conferences

José Calvo Tello analyzed HDH2015 / EADH Day 2015 in Spain, looking at gender, academic affiliation, and geography. He also analyzes DHd2016 in Germany, looking primarily at institutional and country affiliation.

Max Kemman does a similar set of analyses for submissions to DHBenelux 2016, and a comparative analysis for submissions to DHBenelux 2014-2016. Recently, he added an analysis of submissions to DHBenelux 2017.

Asian Conferences

In “Exploring Regional Development of Digital Humanities Research: A Case Study for Taiwan“, Kuang-hua Chen and Bi-Shin Hsueh analyze DADH 2009-2012 in Taiwan, focusing on topics, citations, authorship, geography, and time. Their article is especially notable for how they classify subject area in references.


The disciplinary breadth of studies taking data from journals is probably the largest, since bibliometric analysis is fairly popular, and journals are the coin of that realm. The journals I’m most familiar with are Digital Humanities Quarterly (DHQ), Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (DSH) (previously known as Literary and Linguistic Computing (LLC)), and Digital Studies / Le champ numérique. This betrays my Western perspective, so I hope those out there knowing studies of other journals will add them in comments.

The largest-duration study I know of is by Julianne Nyhan and Oliver Duke-Williams, published in LLC, “Joint and multi-authored publication patterns in the Digital Humanities“. They analyze Computers and the Humanities (1966-2004) and Literary and Linguistic Computing (1986-2011), and find that a small group of people tend to co-author together, while the majority of authors do not connect with other co-authorship clusters. They also find that, despite common rhetoric of collaboration, single-authorships predominate and co-authorships aren’t really on the rise from 1966-2011. Some of their data are available here.

Lisa Spiro blogged a similar study in 2009, comparing collaborative authorship in LLC 2004-2008 to other humanities journals. She provides her data in a google spreadsheet.

Edward Vanhoutte provides a thematic breakdown of articles in DSH (previously LLC) in 2015 in a slide/tweet.

Muh-Chyun Tang, Yun-Jen Cheng, Kuang-hua Chen, and Jieh Hsiang presented “A Longitudinal Analysis of Knowledge Integration in Digital Humanities Using Co-citation Analysis” at DH2015. In the study, they analyze 2,509 articles relating to DH from over six journals, looking at structural properties of the resulting citation network. Their findings include a fracturing of the DH community and a table of the most important cited sources in the dataset. If the preliminary DH2016 conference schedule is any indication, the same group will be following up on this study at DH2016.

There is another study out of Taiwan, I believe it is a dissertation looking at references from 5 international DH journals, but since I cannot read the language I cannot report much more about it. Help would be appreciated.

In “Analysing an Academic Field through the Lenses of Internet Science: Digital Humanities as a Virtual Community“, Almila Akdag Salah, Andrea Scharnhorst, and Sally Wyatt explore nearly 700 DH-related journal articles from various sources, situating the community within a larger disciplinary context (mostly structural). The same authors, swapping Sally Wyatt with Loet Leydesdorff, presented “Mapping the Flow of ‘Digital Humanities’” at DH2010 with similar research. Akdag-Salah and Leydesdorff also published “Maps on the basis of the Arts & Humanities Citation Index: The journals Leonardo and Art Journal versus “digital humanities” as a topic“, which among other analyses presents a structural citation map drawn from around 100 digital humanities journal articles in 2008. 

In “Mapping Cultures in the Big Tent: Multidisciplinary Networks in the Digital Humanities Quarterly“, a team of information visualization students (Dulce Maria de la Cruz, Jake Kaupp, Max Kemman, Kristin Lewis, and Teh-Hen Yu) performed a citation and co-authorship analysis of 200 Digital Humanities Quarterly (DHQ) articles, plus the 4,000 references they all cite. The study spans 2007-2014, shows some structural properties of the networks, as well as key research articles and authors.


Money makes the world go ’round. I have the suspicion that the A.W. Mellon Foundation (which funds my position at CMU) probably funds as much DH in the U.S. as the NEH, but only the NEH data are easily accessible.

John D. Martin III and Carolyn Runyon have an interesting piece exploring the representation of genders and races/ethnicities within grant projects, “Digital humanities, digital hegemony: exploring funding practices and unequal access in the digital humanities“. They look at $225 million in NEH funding for 656 DH-related projects from 2007-2016, analyzing what genders and races/ethnicities are the subjects of those grants.

Blogs & Platforms

DH happens in blogs, yeah? Also platforms like HASTAC and Hypotheses.org. Here’s some analysis:

Matt Burton’s 2015 dissertation, “Blogs as Infrastructure for Scholarly Communication”, analyzes 400 DH blogs comprising 100,000 posts, 1995-2013, using trace ethnography and topic modeling. Among other things, the piece explores the themes of DH blogging, and the topical diversity of individual blogs.

In 2015, Cornelius Puschmann and Marco Bastos published “How Digital Are the Digital Humanities? An Analysis of Two Scholarly Blogging Platforms“, which thematically analyzes Hypotheses.org and HASTAC as scholarly platforms from 2006-2013. Their study utilizes word co-occurrence and topic modeling on 14,000 posts, and primarily looks for markers of disciplinarity. Their 14,000-post data are available at the link above.

Social Media

By social media use in digital humanities, mostly people mean Twitter. If you want to know how DHers use Twitter, see Quan-Haase, Martin, & McCay-Peet (2015) for a survey perspective. Many in DH call social media the back-channel, where conferences and similar are the front-channel.

In “Disciplinary differences in Twitter scholarly communication“, Kim Holberg & Mike Thelwall analyze many tweets, 90,000 of them being tagged as DH-related. The study was primarily focused on how different communities use Twitter differently.

Ross, Terras, Warwick, and Welsh looked at 5,000 tweets from three 2009 DH conferences in “Enabled backchannel: conference Twitter use by digital humanists“, based on hashtags. While they include some thematic and author-based analysis, the piece largely analyzes Twitter user practices: whether they RT, are taking part in a conversation, are sharing links, etc.

Two particularly prolific researchers in this area are Martin Grandjean and Yannick Rochat, who have collaborated on several analysis of DH on Twitter. Some analyses one or both have contributed to include a Twitter visualization of the DH Summer School in Switzerland, 2013, of the 5e colloque international de l’Institut Historique Allemand in Paris, 2013, of Francophone THATCamp St. Malo, 2013, of ADHO’s DH2014 in Switzerland, and others. Grandjean has also worked on the larger DH Twitter network, not associated with a particular event (2014 – 800 users, 2015 – 1400 users).


A number of surveys have gone around asking for DH responses. They ask after what resources DHers use, how they interact online, what departments they find themselves in, etc. I’ll be honest, I haven’t really been following what comes out of them, so I’d particularly appreciate help tracking down these results.

One cool and expansive project has a home at mapahd.org, which tracks DH community happenings among speakers of Spanish and Portuguese. Élika Ortega and Silvia E. Gutiérrez ran the survey in 2013, which received around 80 respondents, and presented their analysis of geography, disciplinary home, methodological interests, institutional affiliation, etc. A writeup of their work is available at “Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades Digitales: Técnicas, herramientas y experiencias de e-Research e investigación en colaboración“.

Another survey & study, performed by Bowman, Demarest, me (ahem Weingart), Simpson, Lariviere, Thelwall, & Sugimoto, looks at the communicative practices of digital humanists. “Mapping DH through heterogeneous communicative practices” (and slides) presents analysis of a survey on where practicioners produce and consume research, as well as how they participate in conferences, mailing lists, etc.

Centers & Research Groups

There aren’t many analyses of DH centers or research communities, but there are a few large-scale visualizations to mention. One is project GrinUGR’s Atlas of Social Sciences & Digital Humanities, mapping people, centers, and projects in Spanish, English, and other languages. Another is ADHO’s centerNET, a map of about 200 DH centers around the world.


DHers love collecting syllabuses and arguing about the correct pluralization of the word syllabus, but I don’t believe there are many quantitative analyses of those syllabi or curricula.

Chris Alen Sula, Sarah Hackney, and Phillip Cunningham performed one such analysis recently, exploring the amount and makeup of global DH educational programs, 1990-2016. Their data and visualizations are available on Tableau.

Other work includes Melissa Terras’ “Disciplined: Using Educational Studies to Analyse ‘Humanities Computing’“, described above, and Lisa Spiro’s analysis of 134 DH syllabim (1, 2, 3), 2006-2011. Spiro covers topics such as disciplinary home, type of degree program, common words or readings, and so forth.

In 2015, Daniel Carter and Tanya Clement collected information on 22 DH certificate/degree programs in the US and Canada, and the 253 courses listed in those programs. They then hand-categorized the courses and Carter created a visualization connecting these 253 DH courses across 22 programs between 7 categories.



I know there are some out there – help me find them?

Mailing Lists

The two big DH mailing lists are Humanist-L and TEI-L. I think I’ve seen a handful of analyses of these listservs, but the only one I remember is David McClure’s great visualization from 2014, which analyzes 12 million words in Humanist-L messages from 1987-2014 (the data for which are available here). The project mostly presents common connecting words for the list, showing for example how “printers” and “wordperfect” were eventually replaced by “electronic” and “preservation” as topics of discussion.


Like DH more generally, some studies defy easy classification.

Probably the most famous DH quantification is Melissa Terras’ 2012 infographic “Quantifying Digital Humanities“, which includes lots of data gathered at and before that time. It’s a snapshot of the size of the community, showing the number of centers, subscriptions to the journal LLC, views of common DH resources, money allocations, and so forth.

6 thoughts on “dh quantified”

  1. This is great — thanks Scott. Very useful. Here are a few more that might be good for your list (they aren’t all quantitative, but might still be appropriate. Figured I’d list them anyway!)

    First, CLIR has published several really useful reports about DH:

    1) A Survey of Digital Humanities Centers in the United States, by Diane M. Zorich, http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub143

    2) Working Together or Apart: Promoting the Next Generation of Digital Scholarship, by Amy Friedlander. http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/reports/pub145

    3) One Culture: Computationally Intensive Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, by Christa Williford & Chuck Henry, http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub151

    4) Many More than a Million: Building the digital environment for the age of abundance, by Amy Friedlander & Greg Crane, http://www.clir.org/pubs/resources/promoting-digital-scholarship-i/Nov28final.pdf


    1) Survey of DH at Community Colleges, by Anne McGrail. https://blogs.lanecc.edu/dhatthecc/2014/02/03/survey-data-available-from-national-survey-of-digital-humanities-in-community-colleges/

    2) Sustaining the Digital Humanities: Host Institution Support beyond the Start-Up Phase, by Nancy Maron (Ithaka). http://www.sr.ithaka.org/blog/new-report-sustaining-the-digital-humanities-host-institution-support-beyond-the-start-up-phase/

    And, of course:

    Our Cultural Commonwealth, by John Unsworth, http://www.acls.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/Programs/Our_Cultural_Commonwealth.pdf

    1. Thanks so much for this, Brett, I knew there was an ocean of things I was missing. I’ll go through and add ’em over the next few days.

  2. Hi, I am not sure if this is of any help: the English abstract of the Master thesis “Exploring research characteristics and references patterns of scholarly literature in digital humanities” by Bi-Shin Hsueh from Taiwan University is as follows:

    This study demonstrates common characteristics found in important publications of digital humanities. We conducted the research based on bibliographies of DH articles. The study analyzed references and source articles listed in the following publications: Proceedings of International Conference of Digital Archives and Digital Humanities (DADH), Journal of Digital Humanities, Digital Humanities Quarterly, Digital Studies, Digital Medievalist and International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing from 2009 to 2013. DADH was held annually in Taiwan, and has become a big event in the Asian Pacific area. The other 5 international journals published important research outputs of digital humanities. The references and source articles of these research targets were investigated based on descriptive analysis and subject analysis of library practices on cataloguing. The methodology of content analysis was used to carry out the whole study. The results were analyzed from totally 8,686 references in 415 source articles.
    The results showed that digital humanities has transformed from the traditional humanities but added in more technology parts. From descriptive analysis in references, there were characteristics noticed as follows. (1) “Book” was the popular one in type of reference. However, UK and North America alike used resources on Internet often. (2) For number of author in the articles, many humanities authors tend to publish alone rather than to cooperate with others. Still, there are some organizations and projects supporting this kind of studies. (3) The subject-year figure depicted a long-low head and short-high tail curve in references published which demonstrated both characteristics of researches of humanities and applications of technology in Digital Humanities.
    For the aspects of subject analyses, Taiwan, UK, and North America had some features in common. History and data mining are two core issues in digital humanities, both for source articles and references. However, the information of temporal tags and spatial coverage were not well recognized in bibliographical records. From the number of domain, DH articles tend to have more than one subject discussed, showing the cross-discipline nature of DH.
    The study analyzed DH based on bibliographical records. From both source articles and references, the characteristics existed in the publications for digital humanities were also revealed, helping related scholars to know better about the field.

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