[Lingtyp] Ways to search literature

Hedvig Skirgård hedvig.skirgard at gmail.com
Mon Sep 3 03:14:32 EDT 2018

Thank you Sebastian for making this survey, this is great.

I have also noticed the tendency for linguists to use social networks a
lot. Compared to other disciplines, I believe that there are more senior
scholars using Facebook for work than using twitter. As is always the case
with social media, this can sometimes lead to problems when people have
different expectations of the space and usage patterns. I think many
linguists of my generation agree when I say that Facebook has become a very
un-personal and non-intimate space in past years. That's not necessarily a
bad thing, but it's definitely a change and it's different from other
disciplines and trades. I'm not sure if senior scholars are always as aware
of the diversity in how people use these services, or that many researchers
in other disciplines use twitter more. And then of course there's the issue
that A) not everyone has or uses Facebook and B) one can't expect everyone
to use it in the same way and be comfortable with having senior people on

I fully concur with the worry about younger researchers being left out when
so much information flows through personal networks. It may not be known to
senior people, but younger researchers and students actually have
PDF-sharing facebook groups or use their walls a lot for searching and
getting resources. I don't know how many of us participated in this survey.
I personally try to help out by recommending students to join certain
mailing lists or subscribe to feeds that I think may remedy some of this.

Thanks again Sebastian, and the Glottolog editors!

*Caveat: *I know that "personal contact" didn't necessarily or only mean
Facebook, naturally.

*Med vänliga hälsningar**,*

*Hedvig Skirgård*

PhD Candidate

The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity

ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language

School of Culture, History and Language
College of Asia and the Pacific

The Australian National University

Website <https://sites.google.com/site/hedvigskirgard/>

P.S. If you have multiple email addresses, I kindly ask you to just use one
with corresponding with me. Email threads and invites to get confusing
otherwise. I will only email you from my gmail, even if other email
addresses re-direct emails to them to my gmail (ANU etc).

Den mån 3 sep. 2018 kl 08:17 skrev Sebastian Nordhoff <
sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de>:

> Dear list,
> regarding my question from last week, 18 people have responded. They
> include junior scholars and senior scholars and have names of diverse
> origins. I know about half of them personally.
> The following list gives the resources mentioned:
> personal contact: 12
> Glottolog: 7
> Google Scholar: 7
> University library: 6
> Wikipedia: 4
> WALS: 3
> Harald Hammarström: 3
> academia.edu: 3
> mailing list: 3
> personal collection: 3
> Researchgate: 2
> Ethnologue:2
> SIL encyclopedia: 1
> University encyclopedia: 1
> ZETOC: 1
> COPAC: 1
> archive.org: 1
> JSTOR: 1
> KVIK: 1
> WorldCat: 1
> The conjecture that the personal network plays a key role is thus
> confirmed. One younger scholar mentioned that she does not yet have a
> large network. This is indeed a fact to keep in mind: how to ensure
> access to information for early career researchers?
> Regarding additional services required, there were fewer answers. Most
> popular was a request for Glottolog (or similar service) to include
> download links (4 mentions). 3 people explicitly stated that they did
> not miss any service. One person mentioned a directory of linguists and
> their specializations (like ALT's but improved). One person mentioned an
> index of works where you can enter a language and a feature and are
> presented a list of relevant works.
> From an infrastructural point of view, it is interesting that the field
> at large relies on one single individual (Harald Hammarström) to a large
> extent. His collection of grammars is widely shared, he is consulted as
> a last resort, and an openly available version of his grammar collection
> is a frequent request.
> The need for any more technical infrastructure has not materialized from
> the answers.
> I might contrast linguistics with a a friend of mine in neuroscience. He
> commutes to work, and during those 45 minutes in the morning, he sifts
> through abstracts of new articles. Every day. Just to keep track of what
> is going on. I understand that he is in dire need of technical
> assistance to help him separate the wheat from the chaff. For
> linguistics, the amount of new work to consult on a daily basis seems to
> be a lot less. This obviously has influences on the technical
> infrastructure the discipline needs.
> Best wishes, and thank you all for answering.
> Sebastian
> On 08/29/2018 12:09 PM, Sebastian Nordhoff wrote:
> > Dear all,
> > this is a query relating to your personal habits of searching for
> > literature. In the publishing world, discoverability is a very hot topic
> > right now, and all kinds of resources and technologies are being
> > advertised and proposed.
> >
> > I am wondering if these search facilities are relevant for linguistics
> > in the same way as, say, for biomedical research. Very often, I cannot
> > really see the benefits of the technical solutions proposed, but I might
> > of course be wrong. So, I would like to get a broader perspective and
> > ask you the following two questions:
> >
> > (1) Suppose you hear that Language L outside of your normal geographical
> > area might be relevant for your research as it is said to exhibit a very
> > intriguing phenomenon.
> > What would be your normal procedure to find out more about L?
> > Which online resources would you use (library catalog, Wikipedia, OLAC,
> > Glottolog, Google services, ...)?
> > Which offline resources would you use?
> > Which informal resources (email request, Facebook etc) would you use?
> > What service would be great to have but does not exist yet?
> >
> > (2) You are studying language Y and in a particular domain (phonology,
> > morphology, syntax, ...) you find some weird phenomenon P. You are not
> > an expert in the domain.
> > What would be your normal procedure to get a better understanding of P
> > and previous research about P?
> > Which online resources would you use?
> > Which offline resources would you use?
> > Which informal resources (email request etc) would you use?
> > What service would be great to have but does not exist yet?
> >
> > Please reply to me in person. I will compile a list of answers. I will
> > have a small presentation about the topic next Wednesday, but later
> > answers will be welcome, too.
> >
> > Disclaimer: My conjecture is that linguists use their personal network
> > more than online resources. So I am interested in answers relating to
> > this as well.
> >
> > Best wishes
> > Sebastian
> >
> >
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