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posted on 05.04.2018 by Greta Franzini, Mike Kestemont, Gabriela Rotari, Melina Jander, Jeremi K. Ochab, Emily Franzini, Joanna Byszuk, Jan Rybicki

This article presents the results of a multidisciplinary project aimed at better understanding the impact of different digitization strategies in computational text analysis. More specifically, it describes an effort to automatically discern the authorship of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in a body of uncorrected correspondence processed by HTR (Handwritten Text Recognition) and OCR (Optical Character Recognition), reporting on the effect this noise has on the analyses necessary to computationally identify the different writing style of the two brothers. In summary, our findings show that OCR digitization serves as a reliable proxy for the more painstaking process of manual digitization, at least when it comes to authorship attribution. Our results suggest that attribution is viable even when using training and test sets from different digitization pipelines. With regards to HTR, this research demonstrates that even though automated transcription significantly increases the risk of text misclassification when compared to OCR, a cleanliness above ≈ 20% is already sufficient to achieve a higher-than-chance probability of correct binary attribution.