dict user survey

Frank Abate fabate at BLR.COM
Wed Aug 9 18:38:51 UTC 2000

Further to Ron and Lynne's comments on a survey of dict users:

Ron Butters said:

>>I think this is an excellent idea, though DSNA would be an even more logical
"sponsor." My chief questions (speaking as a member of the ADS Executive
Committee) are as follows:

1. What lists would the survey be sent to? How could we ensure that it would
be a valid sampling of users?

2. Who would do the actual work of accumulating e-mail addresses and
compiling the results?

3. How could we insure that the data then became available without

4. What would it really mean to "sponsor" such a survey?

F Abate in reply:

DSNA is a more logical sponsor, but it would be best to have ADS involved, too, as it is a larger group and has important expertise to add that DSNA may not have.

1. We need research done ($) to determine and buy ($$) the best lists.  Validity should be shown by standard statistical methods.  A survey company would have this expertise ($$$).

2. Survey company ($$$), or a team of grad students under an academician ($$), following a written procedure.

3. Sponsoring ($$$) must be with no strings, per a contract.  If you want the full results, you gotta ante up, and then you can use the data as you please.

4. The survey would be under the aegis of ADS and DSNA, with (paying) corporate/publisher sponsors (Lynne M's idea).

Ron B continues:
The more I think about it (and I am just thinking about this off the top of
my head right now) this sounds like an excellent research project for some
academic who simply wants to do such a survey as a part of their normal
research--results could then be published in DICTIONARIES (or even AMERICAN

If some ADS member wants to make a proposal to the ADS Executive Committee,
they should do so by writing to the ADS Executive Secretary, Allan Metcalf,
at <AALLAN at aol.com>. Probably would be a good idea to explore the idea with
Allan before making a formal proposal.


from Lynne's email:

Ron Butters said:

> I think this is an excellent idea, though DSNA would be an even more logical
> "sponsor."

Another idea would be to get a publisher to sponsor it. Publishers have money,
scholarly organizations tend not to. Then perhaps the project could be funded
and/or could make use of the publisher's staff for compiling the results.

One problem with this would be the proprietary 'rights' of the publisher
regarding the information collected. So, another option would be to ask for
DSNA 'sponsorship' of the project (say, as a DSNA taskforce on pronunciation)
and then ask a bunch of publishers to underwrite it, so that the money comes in
but the information stays public.

While it was claimed that this could be done for 'free', it seems like a lot of
labor, which isn't really free...



Frank A in reply:

Asking publishers is a great idea.  As with the Amer Natl Corpus effort, if there are several involved, no ONE can claim ownership.  That would be a contractual condition of the sponsorship agreement they would sign.

It will not be free, but costs could be determined up front, and a budget circulated, so sponsors could see what they're paying for.

ADS and DSNA would provide technical guidance and "sanction" the validity of the survey.

I expect that lowest cost would be in an academic setting with a faculty person suprevising a team of students.  But their methodology has to be set in advance, blessed by the ADS and DSNA, and then they must follow it, to ensure statistical validity.

My offer to draft the questionnaire stands.

Frank Abate

Dictionary & Reference Specialists (DRS)
Consulting & Lexicographic Services
phone: (860) 510-0100, ext 2311
email:   abatefr at earthlink.net

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