Stylometry with R


Jan Rybicki (Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland) and Maciej Eder (Pedagogical University of Kraków, Poland) will give a three-day workshop on how to use stylometric analysis for more than just authorship attribution.

dates and location

September 23-25, 2013 at the Goettingen Centre for Digital Humanities, Goettingen, Germany.

Overall aims and significance of the workshop

Stylometry, or the study of measurable features of (literary) style, such as sentence length, vocabulary richness and various frequencies (of words, word lengths, word forms, etc.), has been practised since at least the middle of the 19th century, and has found numerous practical applications not only in authorship attribution research but also in other research areas.  Patterns of stylometric similarity and difference also provide new insights into relationships between different books by the same author, between books by different authors, between authors differing in terms of chronology or gender, or between translations of the same author or group of authors. All of this helps, in turn, to find new ways of looking at works that seem to have been studied from all possible perspectives.

Stylometry belongs to the field of quantitative text analysis, which has been identified by the EADH (formerly the ALLC) as one of a number of key digital methods and is seen as an important component in the establishment of Digital Humanities (DH) at the Georg-August-University Göttingen. The Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities (GCDH), operational at the University since 2011, has already made significant progress in this regard and is now looking to improve the local DH capabilities by organising workshops focusing on key areas with the help of external experts. The “Stylometry and R” workshop would make a vital contribution to this endeavour.

Specific goals

The workshop participants will receive a solid grounding in the theory behind, and the algorithms for, stylometric analysis as well as hands-on, practical work with real data sets.  Each participant will apply the workshop’s techniques to collections of texts within their own discipline and thus emerge from the workshop with a better understanding of their own data and concrete ideas on how to further apply stylometric, and more general linguistic, analytical methods within their field of expertise.  They should also be able to edit existing R scripts, customizing them to their own specific needs.

Description of the workshop and its methodology

This three-day workshop, led by Maciej Eder and Jan Rybicki, is a theoretical and practical introduction to stylometric analysis in the R statistical programming environment, using the collection of Eder’s and Rybicki’s R scripts, which perform multivariate analyses of the frequencies of the most frequent words, the most frequent word n-grams, and the most frequent letter n-grams. The scripts perform a range of supervised and unsupervised textual analyses and will, therefore, give the participants with an excellent overview of analytical methods and a suite of easy-to-use tools to apply them in their own research.

The workshop’s first day will be spent learning what R can do with texts and why this is important.  The second and third days will be spent using R to analyze texts, both those provided by the instructors and those brought by the participants.  The participants will be working with R on their own computers at all stages of the workshop.


If you are interested in taking part in this workshop or have any questions, please email Matthew Munson at ed.hdcg@nosnumm.  There is no fee for participation in this workshop.