The development of a suite of semantic analytical tools that would allow researchers to study arguments and argumentative structure in digitized textual collections. The project is led by a team of scholars from Indiana University (US) and the University of East London (UK) with additional contributors from the University of London and the University of Dundee. The UK partner, the University of East London, is requesting £150,000 from the UK funding consortium.
We will develop and implement a multi-scale workbench, called "InterDebates", with the goal of digging into data provided by hundreds of thousands, eventually millions, of digitized books, bibliographic databases of journal articles, and comprehensive reference works written by experts. Our hypotheses are: that detailed and identifiable arguments drive many aspects of research in the sciences and the humanities; that argumentative structures can be extracted from large datasets using a mixture of automated and social computing techniques; and, that the availability of such analyses will enable innovative interdisciplinary research, and may also play a role in supporting better-informed critical debates among students and the general public. A key challenge tackled by this project is thus to uncover and represent the argumentative structure of digitized documents, allowing users to find and interpret detailed arguments in the broad semantic landscape of books and articles.