Hu defends dissertation

Yuerong Hu
Yuerong Hu

Doctoral candidate Yuerong Hu successfully defended her dissertation, "Complexities and Nuances of Online Book Reviews in Scholarly Research," on March 6.

Her committee included Professor J. Stephen Downie (chair), Professor Ted Underwood, Affiliate Associate Professor Jana Diesner, and Assistant Professor Zoe LeBlanc.

Abstract: The abundance of online book reviews has opened up unprecedented research opportunities for scholars who are interested in empirically studying the interaction between readers and books, particularly in digital humanities (DH). However, limitations and challenges have emerged from existing scholarly conceptualization and usage of such datasets. In particular, the real-world complexities and nuances associated with online book reviews have been under-investigated, which poses questions about the datasets' scholarly usability and interpretability. To address these gaps, this dissertation conducts three case studies on online book ratings, ranked book lists, and textual book reviews collected from Douban and Goodreads (two large online book review platforms based in China and the U.S. respectively). The case studies empirically illuminate the transiency, cultural dependency, and social dynamics associated with online book reviews. Their findings (1) empirically reveal the real-world complexities and nuances of online book reviews and their impacts on scholarly research, and (2) demonstrate practical methods for assessing and improving the scholarly usability and interpretability of such datasets for more contextualized and critical research.

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