Helsinki Computational History Group News for 2024

Warming up to a new year and new outputs
From Digital Humanities to Historical Journals

A few years ago, when RiCEP project was funded by the Research Council of Finland, we implemented also some strategic changes at COMHIS. While we have always been dedicated to work in the historical domain, much of our output in the humanities was previously presented in digital humanities conference proceedings. While these publications are valuable and readily accessible due to their open access nature, they have not always effectively reached the intended audience within history, culture and linguistic studies. This is partly because they were not primarily composed as historical or linguistic research. Conference proceedings certainly have their place in our strategy, but for work primarily focused, for example, on the historical application of computational methods (as opposed to method development and data work), publishing in established historical journals is crucial.

In short, we partly shifted our focus, fully aware of the lengthy publication cycles in humanities journals for work with a digital humanities edge. We are currently anticipating the publication of a handful of papers associated with our RiCEP project, which have been in development for some time and are currently in press. In 2024, keep an eye out for COMHIS publications in journals like The Historical Journal, Huntington Library Quarterly, Connections, Linguistica, and more, as the wheels keep turning. There are also some chapters in books coming out in 2024.

Simultaneously, we are eagerly exploring a new research avenue, centered on our vast collection of printing-related images from ECCO. This focus on visual data allows us to examine publisher and printer networks in a novel way. We are planning to share the results of our first case study on image analysis in book history soon.

Text Reuse at Scale

Our collaborative efforts in the High-Performance Computing for Detection of Historical Discourses (HPC-HD) project, have led to a wealth of joint ventures. We've been actively engaged in text reuse research and have several exciting developments in progress. This includes advancing to the next stage when it comes to text reuse, as we discussed in our Text Reuse Workshop in November 2023:

In addition, in early 2023, we introduced a user-friendly public tool, the Reception Reader, accessible at Designed specifically for historians, this straightforward yet powerful tool enables users to work with text reuse in ECCO, thanks to GALE's generous permission to make it available to all interested individuals. No computational skills are required to utilise it. For detailed information about its features and capabilities, please refer to our article:

We are also making efforts to publish with respect to application of text reuse in historical cases. Our paper "A Comparative Text Similarity Analysis of the Works of Bernard Mandeville" was published in the new journal Digital Enlightenment Studies ( in December 2023. Additionally, we have applied our text reuse analysis in broader reception studies, particularly examining the reception of David Hume’s essays and his Treatise for two different Cambridge Guides, also scheduled to be published in 2024. Additionally, other members of the HPC-HD team are leading data science papers that are currently in progress. These forthcoming publications are set to cater also to the interests of those in the computational humanities field.

In 2024, within the HPC-HD project, we are gearing up to introduce new research on genres and more applications of Large Language Models (LLMs), also on the multilingual front, which is the promised next step and should be of great interest to the digital humanities community. Furthermore, we have completed a manuscript analysing the EEBO and particularly EEBO-TCP databases, offering insights that will be valuable for researchers using computational methods on early modern sources.

MSCA Doctoral Networks

COMHIS will participate in two Marie Skłodowska-Curie Training Networks projects, MECANO and CASCADE, in which University of Helsinki is a member starting in 2024. The coordinators of these networks (Leuven for MECANO and Cork for CASCADE) will soon publish more information about the projects, including opportunities for prospective doctoral students. These new endeavors align with our ongoing projects and represent a continuation of our work with large eighteenth-century digital archives, a focus we have maintained for a decade. We welcome interest from prospective doctoral candidates who are already engaged with eighteenth-century British sources, especially those working with ECCO through computational methods. If you are interested in our work (such as what has been discussed in this blog post) and considering applying, we encourage you to reach out and express your interest even before the official position announcements are made later in the Spring 2024.