Next week will feature the sixth installment of the DHBenelux conference, moving to Belgium, to be held in the city of Liège. In this post, I will analyse the submissions, authors, and abstracts, and look to the future of the community. For the previous years see my other posts in the “dhbenelux” category.
Numbers of submissions
The programme committee received 80 submissions this year; a significant drop from last year’s 133 and the lowest level since 2015. The conference will feature only 8 long papers, 35 short papers, 3 round tables, 20 posters/demos, and 6 workshops.These numbers are based on the provisional programme, rather than submissions, since EasyChair did not distinguish between posters, round tables, or workshops. 78 out of 80 submissions were accepted (97%), with two long papers rejected from the conference. Ten papers were accepted but in a different format.
Whether this drop in submissions is due to scholars opting to go to the ADHO DH conference in Utrecht instead, to the move to September, or to the move to Liège is hard to say however.
An interesting trend is the increasing collaboration on papers. The 80 submissions are written by 200 authors, with several authors contributing towards multiple papers. The average number of authors per paper is more than 3, the highest to date. Single-authored papers are also no longer the most common form, with an equal amount of papers written by two authors (21 papers for both).
This year I have access to all the author’s countries again, and I’ve learned a few tricks to better analyse the nation per author. Despite moving to Belgium this year, almost half of all authors come from the Netherlands (90). 42 authors come from Belgium, fewer than the 2016 edition in Luxembourg, but more than the last two years in the Netherlands.
The choice of Liège as hosting city was a risky one, since DHBenelux draws very little participation from the francophone or Wallonian communities. Only five authors from the hosting university of Liège submitted a paper. There was furthermore no meaningful increase in participation from the French, which are in the process of setting up their own francophone conference.
One surprise is the increased participation from the UK. This seems to be due to the two papers with over ten authors which both feature many scholars from the UK, rather than an increase in submissions from the UK.
The top words from the abstracts are similar to last year’s conference, with the same top four words: digital, data, research, humanities. An interesting development is the apparent increase in historical submissions, with history (161) and historical (127) both entering the top 15 of most common words. While this year’s theme is “Digital Humanities in Society”, socie* (society, societies, societal) appear just 39 times in seven papers.
Last year I ended my analysis with three main points: 1) there was a significant increase in submissions and rejections, signifying growth and possible maturation of the community. 2) DHBenelux struggled to represent Belgium and Luxembourg. And 3) the community was increasingly balancing quality and openness, and experimenting with publications beyond conference abstracts.
The good news with respect to the final point is that following last year’s DHBenelux, the community launched a journal which will feature four papers. The bad news is that the conference received way fewer submissions this year, and still struggles to represent Belgian and Luxembourgish authors.
It is difficult to say whether this is a consequence of divided attention with the global DH conference, moving the conference to September, or with the risky choice of holding the conference in Liège. Yet perhaps the central question for the community for the coming years will be: Does DHBenelux have a future outside of the Netherlands?