Created by Nathan Kelber and Ted Lawless for JSTOR Labs under Creative Commons CC BY License
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Exploring Word Frequencies

Description: This notebook finds the word frequencies for a dataset. Optionally, this notebook can take the following inputs:

  • Filtering based on a pre-processed ID list

  • Filtering based on a stop words list

Use Case: For Researchers (Mostly code without explanation, not ideal for learners)

Take me to the Learning Version of this notebook ->

Difficulty: Intermediate

Completion time: 5-10 minutes

Knowledge Required:

Knowledge Recommended:

Data Format: JSON Lines (.jsonl)

Libraries Used:

  • tdm_client to collect, unzip, and read our dataset

  • NLTK to help clean up our dataset

  • Counter from Collections to help sum up our word frequencies

Research Pipeline:

  1. Build a dataset

  2. Create a “Pre-Processing CSV” with Exploring Metadata (Optional)

  3. Create a “Custom Stopwords List” with Creating a Stopwords List (Optional)

  4. Create the word frequencies analysis with this notebook

Import Raw Dataset

# Creating a variable `dataset_id` to hold our dataset ID
# The default dataset is Shakespeare Quarterly, 1950-present
dataset_id = "7e41317e-740f-e86a-4729-20dab492e925"

# Pull in the dataset that matches `dataset_id`
# in the form of a gzipped JSON lines file.
import tdm_client
dataset_file = tdm_client.get_dataset(dataset_id)

Load Pre-Processing Filter (Optional)

If you completed pre-processing with the “Exploring Metadata and Pre-processing” notebook, you can use your CSV file of dataset IDs to automatically filter the dataset.

# Import a pre-processed CSV file of filtered dataset IDs.
# If you do not have a pre-processed CSV file, the analysis
# will run on the full dataset and may take longer to complete.
import pandas as pd
import os

pre_processed_file_name = f'data/pre-processed_{dataset_id}.csv'

if os.path.exists(pre_processed_file_name):
    df = pd.read_csv(pre_processed_file_name)
    filtered_id_list = df["id"].tolist()
    use_filtered_list = True
    print('Pre-Processed CSV found. Successfully read in ' + str(len(df)) + ' documents.')
    use_filtered_list = False
    print('No pre-processed CSV file found. Full dataset will be used.')

Load Stop Words List (Optional)

The default stop words list is NLTK. You can also create a stopwords CSV with the “Creating Stop Words” notebook.

# Load a custom data/stop_words.csv if available
# Otherwise, load the nltk stopwords list in English

# Create an empty Python list to hold the stopwords
stop_words = []

# The filename of the custom data/stop_words.csv file
stopwords_list_filename = 'data/stop_words.csv'

if os.path.exists(stopwords_list_filename):
    import csv
    with open(stopwords_list_filename, 'r') as f:
        stop_words = list(csv.reader(f))[0]
    print('Custom stopwords list loaded from CSV')
    from nltk.corpus import stopwords
    stop_words = stopwords.words('english')
    print('NLTK stop words list loaded')

Find Word Frequencies

from collections import Counter

# Hold our word counts in a Counter Object
transformed_word_frequency = Counter()

# Apply filter list
for document in tdm_client.dataset_reader(dataset_file):
    if use_filtered_list is True:
        document_id = document['id']
        # Skip documents not in our filtered_id_list
        if document_id not in filtered_id_list:
    unigrams = document.get("unigramCount", [])
    for gram, count in unigrams.items():
        clean_gram = gram.lower() # Lowercase the unigram
        if clean_gram in stop_words: # Remove unigrams from stop words
        if not clean_gram.isalpha(): # Remove unigrams that are not alphanumeric
        transformed_word_frequency[clean_gram] += count

Display Top 100 Words

# Print the most common processed unigrams and their counts
for gram, count in transformed_word_frequency.most_common(100):
    print(gram.ljust(20), count)