Google has awarded two UK academic projects with funding, as it aims to use its database to try to help scholars identify trends over selected periods of time, by language, by geography and by topic.
12 project were awarded nearly $500,000 to pursue projects, with the chance of another year's renewal, including a joint project between the Open University and University of Southampton and a separate one at Oxford University.
"Digitisation means that scholars can now use quantitative techniques to analyse large amounts of literature and identify trends over selected periods of time, by language, by geography and by topic," said Google
"The awards will fund 12 research projects that help answer questions such as: Can we better characterise Victorian society by quantifying shifts in vocabulary - not just of a few leading writers, but of every book written during the era?
"Or can we see and compare every version of the opening line of a work like Virgil's Aeneid, analyse every place where the line is cited, and examine every instance where it is quoted?
"In total, these 12 projects will receive $479,000 in the first year, with the possibility of renewal next year. In addition to financial support, the recipients will also be able to access Google data, tools, technologies and expertise, plus relevant subsets of the Google Books corpus such as histograms, book scans and text."
The two projects in the UK are 'Google Ancient Places' (GAP) which is aiming to aid in the discovery of historical geographical entities in the Google Books Corpus, and will be run by the OU, Southampton and the University of California-Berkeley.
Secondly the Bibliotheca Academica Translationum led by Dr Alfonso Moreno, Tutorial Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford aims to produce an Index based on a computerised union catalogue of all known translations of classical scholarship into the major European languages during the 18th and 19th Centuries and to use this database to research the changes in the transmission of knowledge in this period.