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This volume offers various proposals for learning about the temporal development of different disciplines through a (distant) reading of large corpora of scientific literature. Even though these contributions represent only a first step into partially uncharted territory, the results reveal relevant events, moments and timings that corroborate, enrich or change the current narration of the history of ideas. Disciplines and research objects evolve over time, with the modes of communication of research results and scientific language evolving along with them.
The study of large corpora within a diachronic perspective is an innovative and interesting research branch, as today, the vast quantity of texts available for research influence methodological choices. Qualitative analyses are virtually impossible with large corpora, and even semi-automatic work strategies have become increasingly impractical; however, the selection of texts for analysis and the interpretation of results remain qualitative. The tension between qualitative and quantitative methods should be resolved with new mixed-method approaches and well-founded, data-driven computational tools. In the near future, new approaches will not only change how research is conducted in the humanities and social sciences, but also how research is planned and designed.
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