Concept Search Engine for Literature and the Humanities

Faculty Member: Professor Stephen Osadetz, Department of English

Apply: Apply through Google Forms

We are recruiting a part-time Research Assistant to help with the development of a concept search engine for scholarship in literature and the humanities. This search engine looks through large text corpora for passages that deal with particular concepts. Currently, we are using the search engine on Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online, but the project is likely to acquire and develop other corpora (Google Books, HathiTrust non-Google set, JSTOR, etc.)


The position may involve some coding, but the majority of the work will be database management, the mining of bibliographies to produce standard search filters, and the creation of text and videos for promotion. The assistant must be a Harvard College undergraduate student during employment. 


Description of RA Duties: 

  • Involvement in weekly team meetings and tasks;
  • Mining bibliographies to produce standard search filters;
  • May also be asked to assist with literature reviews to support grant writing and manuscripts;
  • Possible assistance with qualitative data analysis;
  • Possible help with data cleaning and analysis;
  • Opportunities to be involved in conference presentations and/or publications;
  • Opportunities available for pursuing individual research interests using data.


The following skills are required or an asset:

  • Good reading and writing skills in English are required;
  • Ability to learn new skills quickly and be receptive to feedback is required;
  • Interest in the project content and humanities research methodology is a strong asset;
  • Willingness for long-term involvement in the project is a strong asset;
  • Basic knowledge of R, Python, tm and/or Pandas packages, Linux/UNIX, HTML is an asset;
  • Experience with data-mining and information-retrieval algorithms is an asset;
  • Experience with AWS or other cloud-computing platforms is an asset.


Duration: September to December 2017, with the strong possibility of extension

Work hours: Flexible, at least 5 hours per week

To apply, please upload your resume to this Google Form: Apply through Google Forms

Applications submitted before October 1st will receive priority consideration.

This position is part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URS) in the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. If hired, students will participate in the IQSS URS program. Scholars must be current Harvard College undergraduates.