more on databases and publications

nigel Vincent nigel.vincent at MANCHESTER.AC.UK
Mon Apr 23 15:25:37 UTC 2007

A couple of quick points following on from Martin's comment on my  
message. First off, just to be clear, the words he puts in direct  
quotes -– viz "all that counted for reputational and career  
advancement purposes was publications (whether in electronic or  
printed journals), not the electronic or other resources that  
underlie and give rise to them" – are mine not those of the NWO.  I  
believe they are an accurate paraphrase of the NWO's guidance on this  
point but others might challenge that.

More substantial is the second point, namely the suggestion that  
databases can be recategorised as 'publications' and that the fault  
lies with us as a profession not the funding councils.  It is  
certainly possible either to redefine the term 'publication' or find  
a more generic label to cover the things that we produce. The British  
RAE chooses the latter course and invites all academics to choose  
their four best 'outputs' within the assessment period. The term  
'output' explicitly covers a huge variety of things in addition to  
books and articles, e.g.  databases, corpora, collections of  
digitised manuscripts or other artefacts, films, symphonies,  
recordings of concerts or of theatre performance, and many more. I  
think, however, my point  still holds. As I understand it, the NWO  
will not admit any of these but only recognises  books and articles  
as evidence of scholarly achievement, and this is a policy decision  
on their part that cannot be circumvented by redesignating things as  
'publications' but only by tackiling head on, if we are so minded,  
the issue of what kinds of work should count in evaluating the career  
progression of academics and the success of academic departments (on  
which sustained core funding depends).

The issue is not a simple one and I don't for a moment believe there  
is unanimity out there. If the UK and the Netherlands represent two  
extremes in this respect, where do the funding bodies of other  
countries stand? At the individual level, I know very good linguists  
(and not just in the Netherlands!) who believe the NWO stance is the  
right one, and others who sharply disagree. My purpose was simply to  
raise this aspect of the question for discussion.
P.S. My apologies to Gideon for misspelling his surname in my last post.

Professor Nigel Vincent FBA
Associate Vice President for Graduate Education

Mailing address:    School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures
                                   University of Manchester
                                   Manchester M13 9PL
                                   United Kingdom
Tel:                           +44-161-275-3194
Fax:                          +44-161-275-3031
email:                      nigel.vincent at

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list