A few months ago, I began an authorship and abbreviated content analysis of the Ensign over the last 30 years. It was a follow-up to a similar but much smaller project I did of Dialogue and BYU Studies early last Autumn.
The Ensign project is very large, and I never had a chance to finish the coding for it – that is, the categorization of authors and content – much less perform analysis. This is frustrating, because I’d like to know whether or not there’s a shortage of women’s voices in the Ensign, and I’d like to know whether women published in the Ensign tend toward certain subjects or types of writing. Such research, if it shows that there’s an actual gender imbalance in the magazine, could provide interested parties with the motivation to write and submit more to church publications. It might also provide interesting insight into gendered communication styles and subject matters within Mormonism, or at least that part of Mormonism which gets published in the Ensign.
While I still want to complete this analysis, I’m now swamped with my longer-term pet project, a modern-language Book of Mormon adaptation. I’m trying to get a really good jump start on the BOM project right now because I’m currently applying for grad school and I’m trying to get pregnant. With any luck, I’m going to find myself really, really busy in a year or two, and I want to ensure that I’ve got lots of forward-moving inertia on the adaptation before that happens. So I’m wondering whether anyone would like to coauthor the Ensign project with me. I’ve got a database set up, and I think I’ve done about an eighth of the coding. We could try to split the coding duties, though I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to invest in it.
This would be an opportunity for anyone interested in learning the basics of this type of research, as well as anyone who’s done it before. If you’re interested in being published, the project will certainly result in some excellent blog posts. It may also provide us with results worthy of peer-reviewed publication (perhaps even more than one article exploring different aspects of the analysis). So, is anyone game?