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Poster communications

Honoring our dead: text mining a century of academic obituaries in The Lancet

Abstract : In consecrating the lives of the deceased, obituaries offer a unique window into the values and social dynamics of academic communities. Here, we conduct a preliminary textual analysis of 5,069 obituaries published in The Lancet between 1850 and 2019 to understand how the genre has evolved in response to unfolding history and changing academic norms. We find that the rate of obituaries varied over time, peaking immediately following World War 1. On average, the sentiment of obituaries has increased over time. Largely, obituary text describes the life, accomplishments, and accomplishments of the deceased, although the prominence of these topics has changed over time. For example, discussion of military service was most prominent in the early 1900s, whereas more recent obituaries instead spend more time detailing the deceased’s scholarship and academic career. Ours is the first large-scale text analysis of academic obituaries. In conducting this analysis, we revealed how this genre of writing has evolved over the past century in response to conflicts and changing conventions. Moving forward, we aim to leverage obituaries to better understand how academic virtues evolved, and how they differ by gender, discipline, and more.
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Poster communications
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Contributor : Guillaume Cabanac <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, August 4, 2020 - 10:24:53 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 4:12:09 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Monday, November 30, 2020 - 2:01:58 PM


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  • HAL Id : hal-02911615, version 1


Dakota Murray, Vincent Larivière, Cassidy Sugimoto, Guillaume Cabanac. Honoring our dead: text mining a century of academic obituaries in The Lancet. IC2S2 2020: 6th International Conference on Computational Social Science, Jul 2020, Cambridge, MA, United States. 2020. ⟨hal-02911615⟩



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