Friday, December 7, 2007

Page Count

Because I have been running into some PHP road blocks that I have been unable to resolve, I needed to answer a dumb question: How long are the articles in CCC over the past twenty years?

This simple line graph charts the page count of CCC articles over the period in question. It answers my question, and it also more or less affirms the lengthening of article manuscripts--a gradual inflation we may well know about implicitly. Glancing the stacks in this way simply attests to it. The shortest are, these days, less short; the longest are longer. At this rate, in as little as 50 years, scholarly articles will on average exceed 100 pages. With any luck I will retire before then. If nothing else, the next half-century will require us to be more discerning readers, if the manuscript up-tick we have already witnessed has not already.

In putting the graph hastily together, I have neglected a number of factors--pull quotes that made articles slightly longer, changes to the layout of the journal around 2000 (did the average words per page remain constant?), and probably a few other things I haven't thought about yet.

What remains puzzling is that the PHP script I have been working with will not do its thing with Rouzie's 49-page article from 2001, but it is successful with Selfe and Hawisher's biggest-of-them-all, a 50-pager from 2004. The difference between them is slight. It can be measured in words. I will see to that soon. But I am closer to troubleshooting the PHP, closer to figuring out why. Think of this as one of the what crumbs sprinkled along the uneven path.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at December 7, 2007 10:40 PM to Dissertation

I'm sorry! Seminar paper overload! All clear on Wednesday. :(

Posted by: JM at December 8, 2007 8:54 AM

No apologies necessary, J. I am finding that the script hiccups when whatever is between the body tags is too long. I was planning to send you a note about that realization any minute.

Plus, it's seminar paper season. And I hope those are going well, by the way.

Posted by: Derek at December 8, 2007 9:09 AM

What are you using to do all of this? I've been so mesmerized by the possibilities of the project that I've never given a thought to the praticalities of it--despite listening avidly to the C's presentation you all did in NY.

One of the side benefits of this work IS this sort of informal longitudinal study you all are doing.

If I don't get my old issues of the C's to you over winter break, I'll send them in the early summer.

Posted by: joanna at December 8, 2007 9:53 AM

I'm using a variety of things, Joanna. The graph shown here begins as a spreadsheet in Excel. One column has the names of all of the articles from the past twenty years (excluding interchanges, revisions, reviews and review essays; I did, however, include Johnson's recent "Musings"), the other column has the number of pages of each article. All I did was copy and paste them into Many Eyes and then try out a few of the visualizations. I also like the block histogram for the same data. Maybe I'll blog it later this weekend. I was reminded of Many Eyes from a couple of friends here in SU's information studies program, I think I will be using it for some of the graphs I will be creating in chapter four (in January, if everything goes as planned).

I appreciate the point you make about informal longitudinal study. I tend to think of 'longitudinal' as nice pairing with distant reading. As for informality, something as stable as page count could be regarded as highly formal and, perhaps, too obvious to bother with. And yet, where do we account explicitly for such things, not only in CCC, but in any of the other eight journals Maureen Daly-Goggin studied and even some of the others that have surfaced since?

Good about the back issues of the journal, too. We can email about how to handle the exchange. Except for their tremendous weight, I sometimes think about lugging several years' worth to a conference talk as a prop (doubtful, though, that I'll ever try this).

Posted by: Derek at December 8, 2007 10:12 AM