Thursday, December 9, 2010

a brief history of stanford linguistics dissertations

The above image comes from the Stanford Dissertation Browser and is centered on Linguistics. This tool performs some kind of textual analysis of Stanford dissertations: every dissertation is taken as a weighted mixture of a unigram language model associated with every Stanford department. This lets us infer, that, say, dissertation X is 60% computer science, 20% physics, and so on...Essentially, the visualization shows word overlap between departments measured by letting the dissertations in one department borrow words from another department..

Thus, the image above suggests that Linguistics borrows more words from Computer Science, Education, and Psychology than it does from other disciplines. What was most interesting was using the Back button to creating a moving picture of dissertation language over the last 15 years. you'll see a lot of bouncing back and forth. Stats makes a couple jumps here and there.

HT Razib Khan


CoffeeTeaLinguistics said...

I'd love to see a ling-wide survey of dissertation-finishing by year. A while back, LL did one but it was just from linguist list information, which has like nothing. While we're on the topic of things I'd like to see: a plot of diss. subfield vs. employment. If you're doing CL or theoretical syn or acoustic phonetics, what's the probability that you'll get a job doing what you were trained to?

Chris said...

I suspect you'd rather NOT have that data, hehe. I recently told someone: there are two kinds of linguists. the top 15% and the unemployed.

CoffeeTeaLinguistics said...

Preaching to the choir, but we need focus in grad schools on non-academic job opportunities to apply our skills in. At least where I am, it's pretty ugly if you mention applications or the question of non-academic jobs. I realize that linguistics still has a foot in humanities in some ways, and that it's not job training in the sense of an engineering degree, but that's not to say that it's unapplicable. [and I'm not talking about CL, which is obviously immediately applicable]

Chris said...

This was an all too common complaint at my grad institution too. One problem was that few of the faculty had ever held a non-academic job, so they were clueless how to get one themselves, let alone train their students how to get them.