SIGHUM got a face lift!
Barbara McGillivray, Stefania Degaetano-Ortlieb, Sara Tonelli
The SIGHUM group (ACL Special Interest Group on Language Technologies for the Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities) was constituted in 2012 as one of the ACL special interest groups. SIGHUM groups together researchers interested in computational linguistics applications in all aspects of digital humanities, including for example computational humanities, computational social sciences, computational literary studies and digital libraries. We provide a forum for communication between ACL researchers and other digital humanities communities and organisations.
In July 2022, we were elected as the new members of SIGHUM’s board. Our first priority was to revive the group and update its strategy by actively involving members. We first established the new group mailing list as a Google group, which on February 1st 2023 had 408 members. In November 2022 we circulated a survey among the group members. The aim of the survey was to gather members’ input that would help us shape the group’s strategy. We are excited to share the highlights of this survey here.
We received 81 responses to the survey. This post summarises the main results of the survey.
About the respondents
Our community is attractive to younger generations. As you can see from the chart above, a third of the respondents identified themselves as early-career researchers.
The research fields of the respondents included, as expected, computational linguistics, but also a much larger set of areas, ranging from linguistics, philosophy, digital humanities, corpus linguistics, computational literary studies, law, and social sciences.
The list of the countries where the respondents are based contains over 30 countries, which is a testimony of the geographical diversity of our group. However, some countries stand out. The top country is Germany (16 responses), followed by Italy (10), USA (7), and Canada (3). This is a clear indication that more could be done to involve researchers from under-represented areas.
The respondents clearly consider the organisation of specific events a top priority to create a sense of community around SIGHUM, probably because they are scattered across several research areas and there aren’t many occasions to meet. This explains also why the LaTeCH-CLfL workshop, the official event of SIGHUM, has been so successful over the years. Other priorities concern funding opportunities and the need to support early career researchers. Also the need to engage with ACL is considered relevant, for instance to make specific topics more visible in the research community and include them in calls for papers of major conferences.
We also asked people whether they would like to support the group in specific tasks and we were very happy that a good number of respondents offered to help SIGHUM in different organisational areas. This shows a lively community. For example, half of the respondents recognised the need for the group to have a social media presence, which will be one of the first steps for the group. Respondents also provided useful feedback in the free text fields of the survey. For example, they suggested enforcing synergies and collaborations with existing networks (see for example COST actions) and other SIG groups. They also volunteered to contribute to the organisation of events, fund raising and training initiatives. This offer for help also allowed us to contact people and form subgroups working on the website, the management of social media channels and the group management.
Overall, we were very pleased with this high level of engagement and we are looking forward to supporting and expanding this lively community!