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The Full Story

The developments in research in the fields of computer science, engineering, mathematics, statistics, information systems, computational linguistics and more (hereafter: "computer science") and their applications in relation to the analysis of texts of various types and for various needs and at the same time the growing digitization of textual databases have opened new horizons for computational research of texts. In the last decade, the use of computational tools for text analysis by researchers in the world has greatly expanded in most disciplines in the social sciences (political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, communications, public policy), the humanities (history, philosophy, literature, linguistics, regional studies - East Asia and the Middle East, cultural studies, Bible, Talmud, religious studies), education, social work, arts, management and law (hereinafter "social sciences and humanities"). This move is part of the development of a broad field of data science, of which textual data analysis is a subfield. The transformation affects the research agenda.


As part of this transformation, researchers are examining types of sources that were previously not used because they were illegible, fragmented or access to them was very complicated and expensive in time and money. Types of textual sources that until recently were used on a small scale (tens and at most a few hundreds of texts) of "close reading" and analysis by individual researchers, can now be investigated in "distant reading" methods with the help of teams of researchers who perform digitization and computational analysis of the texts to the extent of thousands and tens of thousands of sources. The computational tools allow identifying authors, locating differences between editions, finding connections and influences between texts and authors spread over time and space, sorting texts according to external and internal categories, identifying sentiments, political positions and recommendations, level of language proficiency, analyzing interviews as part of qualitative research and more.


In the global academy, a new generation of young researchers is growing who are interested in the research questions of one of the disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities; they are well acquainted with the research literature and the main debates in that discipline and at the same time have developed computational research tools of various types for the purpose of analyzing texts. In almost all the leading universities in the world, many centers have been established in the last decade to promote research in the social sciences and humanities in the digital age. Some of these centers were established under the heading of artificial intelligence and human sciences, some as part of data science centers, some as digital humanities research centers, some of them as centers for textual and spatial research. Some centers were established as university-wide centers, others within specific faculties and some in libraries. In some leading universities, two or three centers were established with a division of labor between them. Such centers have served as an anchor for raising donations and other external resources for the development of the field in their parent institutions. The role of the centers is to promote and finance research in the field, to create collaborations between researchers from different disciplines and to provide professional support to researchers. At a supra-institutional level, there are vibrant international research communities, journals, conferences, trainings, literacy development and teaching in the field.

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