Voyant Software for Researchers

Voyant Software for Researchers

The Voyant software package is a powerful program that allows researchers to find common terms and their relationships that appear in a large “corpus” (or collection of individual text files).  It can do word usage analyses by document and across the corpus, revealing patterns and relationships that might not be readily apparent to a researcher when considering using a collection.  Its main product is Wordclouds showing the prevalence and relationship of key terms and Graphing that shows the frequency of usage of a term or terms across the corpus.  Searches can be customized down to an individual file or grouping of files.  Individual words can be displayed in context in each individual document, another useful feature.

I was able to use the corpus of text files from the WPA Slave Narrative found in the Guttenberg Project to analyze the entire corpus and selected state collections.  I was able to create Wordclouds around key terms to see how key terms were related to other terms in a specific collection and across the entire corpus.  I was also able to examine individual documents and see key terms used in context.  I was able to graph the prevalence of terms across the corpus and within individual collections.  All of these enabled me to better understand some of the limitations of how these transcriptions were made as well as to compare the work of different transcribers in different regions.

While the Voyant software was relatively easy to use, it worked much better after I downloaded it to my computer rather than just using the online version.   Although my background is not in graphing, I did find the information helpful.


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