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Discovering Hidden Analogies in an Online Humanities Database

Kenneth A. Cory
Computers and the Humanities
Vol. 31, No. 1 (1997), pp. 1-12
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30200413
Page Count: 12
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Discovering Hidden Analogies in an Online Humanities Database
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Abstract

Voluminous databases contain hidden knowledge, i.e., literatures that are logically but not bibliographically linked. Unlinked literatures containing academically interesting commonalities cannot be retrieved via normal searching methods. Extracting hidden knowledge from humanities databases is especially problematic because the literature, written in "everyday" rather than technical language, lacks precision required for efficient retrieval, and because humanities scholars seek new analogies rather than causes. Drawing upon an efficacious method for discovering previously unknown causes of medical syndromes, and searching in Humanities Index, a periodical index included in WILS, the Wilson Database, an illuminating new humanities analogy was found by constructing a search statement in which proper names were coupled with associated concepts.

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