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Social relations among authors

Another potential source of information about documents that we can use to augment statistial keywords is ``cultural'' information, capturing some features of the social relationships among authors in a field. Most of our discussion of documents has been as if they were completely dead artifacts. But documents are written by people, authors who write from a particular perspective. When their writing is in science, or the law, or any other tradition within which they participate, we can make reasonable guesses about some aspects of what it is they are trying to say.

An author's education, in particular, offers clues as to how we can interpret their words. Work and writing in many fields requires extensive, graduate education. Students are soon moved from common ``core'' curricula to more advanced material. Kuhn and others have analyzed the central role textbooks play as part of the social process of codifying a discipline [REF162] . As students move beyond common textbooks to the specialized training, their approach to the problem often resembles that of their teachers (at least as long as they are around the teacher). By knowing something about the author's education, and especially about their dissertation advisor, we may have a basis for interpreting their writing. The importance of dissertations as an academic resource was recognized as early as 1940 by University Microfilms Inc. (UMI) as copies of virtually every dissertation published by many universities was microfilmed. UMI (now the Information and Learning division of Bell \& Howell) makes its Dissertation Abstracts corpus available for WWW searching.


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