Introducing Data Sets – A New Section

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We have launched a new section at CA focusing on the creation of data sets for the study of culture.

Building data sets takes a lot of work. In fact, it often takes the most amount of work. And it involves a great deal of critical choices. We want to reward that work and also make those decisions more transparent. By creating a peer-reviewed section that focuses on the creation of new data sets for public use, we want to start a conversation about data and the study of culture.

What are we looking for?

Any data set that you think is relevant to the study of culture is eligible for this section. An appropriate essay is one that addresses questions like: What questions does your data enable others to ask? What other kinds of data is your data in conversation with? What are the representational problems you faced when collecting your data -- what is your data representative of? How are you trying to address the under- or mis-representation of some aspect of culture or some cultural community? What steps did you take to prepare your data for computational analysis? What problems or concerns do you have about the biases encoded in your data? What in short are the limits of this data?

Data does not directly reflect the world it claims to represent. It does so with human interests, institutional investments, and a good deal of randomness built into the collection process. We are only just at the beginning of thinking about how data collection impacts the analysis of culture. This section is designed to give researchers the opportunity to reflect at length on a particular data set, whether they were the ones who created it or not. You are welcome to describe your own data set or engage in an extended analysis of data that has been used in existing studies. Understanding the way data represents culture is one of the primary aims of cultural analytics and we want to foster ways of enabling that conversation.

Contributions to the data sets section will be peer-reviewed with an eye to the ways in which the above questions are being addressed. Suggested length is between 3,000-5,000 words.

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