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Volume 28 Issue 5 (May 2018)

GSA Today

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Article, pp. 66–67 | Full Text | PDF (309KB)


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Charting the Geosciences with Google Ngram Viewer

Danita S. Brandt

Department of Earth and Environmental Geosciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA


Frequency of mention in books can be used to trace the evolution of a discipline, from the first recorded use of the word or phrase to its current standing, as measured by the number of books that include the phrase. Ngram Viewer, the tool developed by a team at Google Books (Michel et al., 2011) places a database (“corpus”) of >500 billion words at the disposal of its users (http://books.google.com/ngrams). Here I describe how this tool can be used to examine patterns suggested by qualitative ideas about the intellectual development of the geosciences. An example of the Ngram Viewer output is given in Figure 1.

Manuscript received 11 May 2017. Revised manuscript received 3 January 2018. Manuscript accepted 7 February 2018. Posted online 23 March 2018.

©2018, The Geological Society of America. CC-BY-NC.