Short Statement of Research Philosophy

As a researcher, I bring the methodological affordances of citation and textual analysis to bear on issues of disciplinarity and how academic traditions form. My work has been funded in a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, published in disciplinary journals in rhetoric and writing studies, and presented at national and international computational humanities conferences. I inherit and DH’s and writing studies’ mutual emphases on boundary work and process. I extend these commitments by emphasizing reproducibility and transparency, which are vital to collaboration and methodological transfer. Responding to current digital scholarship in both fields that chart their histories to re-draw their boundaries, I advocate for an emphasis on data analysis as rhetoric in its application and pedagogy.

From my training as a digital humanist, I understand data analysis as an exploratory and iterative 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. Applied at different scales, data analysis can guide and augment rather than supplant close analysis. Its re-ordering of information at these different scales is consistent with the subjectivity that commonly characterizes the humanities. 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. For me, reflexivity in data analysis is one way to resist a tool-bounded paradigm that digital humanities shares with the ed-tech aligned parts of writing studies. Instead, my emphasis is on synthesizing methods across tools and fields, with reflection on the frictions that come with using methods beyond one’s disciplinary expertise and determining how much of the their underpinnings to understand.

Dissertation Abstract

My dissertation project theorizes and demonstrates an approach to co-citation analysis for tactically linking distinct research areas with shared values and practices, as well as for supporting citational justice. Citation metrics and their analytics can reproduce inequity in scholarly advancement and the academic publishing record by way of information retrieval. Using the same bibliometric methods like co-citation analysis, which counts and visualizes clustered networks of sources often cited together, scholars can support an ongoing project of citing interventionally to build bridges and shift the academic landscape.

My project critiques the conceptual metaphors for academic fields, as well as the spatial vantage from which practitioners navigate these computational methods. I do so by recuperating the methodological literature that first introduced co-citation analysis, in which bibliometricians plot maps of co-citation frequencies that resemble a physicist’s potential diagram or a geographer’s contoured map of terrain. In this early literature, atuhors position themselves as subjective surveyors of these “landscapes.” I reconcile the enduring representation of academic fields as bounded “territories,” to be claimed and border policed, with more recent metaphors of “networked” communities of practice. I argue that the landscape representation—as topography, however, rather than territory—enables an approach to co-citation that is more consistent with feminist understandings of vantage and the role of data analysis at different scales.

Structurally, the project employs rhetorician Jacqueline Jones Royster’s heuristic for “disciplinary landscaping”—re-designing intellectual space—in processes of “story-telling,” “history-telling,” and “theory-making.” My chapters reflect my commitment to this heuristic in the form that each chapter takes: the close reading of metaphor in bibliometric scholarship; an evocative ethnography of mixing metaphors and methods; and a code notebook applying co-citation techniques to a corpus of citation data from digital humanities (DH) and writing studies. The notebook enacts the role of analysts and our thresholding choices when “excavating” an academic landscape, at different levels, to unearth “bridges” between the hills of co-citations represented in network diagrams.

Selected Publications

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)