Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL) February 2017

The next meeting of Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL) will be Tuesday 28th February 2017 at 6pm. The discussion topic is Data sharing, data mining, and research parasites.

Linguists often build data sets and corpora as part of their research, and sometimes these collections are the only materials about a particular language. As in many other data-driven disciplines, ‘hard’ sciences and social sciences alike, attention is increasingly being paid by linguists to how these collections are built and shared. The push for data sharing can have many benefits, but brings with it a new set of challenges and concerns for researchers, including concerns about ‘research parasites’ who are “people who had nothing to do with the design and execution of the study but use another group’s data for their own ends, possibly stealing from the research productivity planned by the data gatherers, or even using the data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited” (Longo & Drazen 2016). Grinevald & Sinha 2016 also argue that “the conjunction of dominant concepts of ‘language’ and ‘data’, and the relations between ‘international’ and ‘local’ Endangered Languages Documentation researchers, generates an ideological construction of unequal competence that operates to justify unequal North-South exchange relations. [They] document this claim of unequal and at times abusive North-South exchange with brief, anonymized case studies. [They] conclude by noting that, in comparison with other social science disciplines, linguistics seems resistant to reflexive and self-critical analysis of its ideological dimension; and suggesting possible ways of raising awareness and generalizing models of good practice.”

In this LIPIL discussion we’ll talk about the way open access to data may be impacting the discipline of Linguistics, and what challenges lie ahead.


  • Grinevald, Colette & Chris Sinha. 2016. North-South relations in linguistic science: Collaboration or colonialism? In Luna Philipovic and Martin Pütz (eds.) Endangered Languages and Languages in Danger. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [available online here
  • Longo, Dan L. & Jeffrey M. Drazen. 2016. Data sharing. New England Journal of Medicine 374:276-277. [link]

The NSF-funded Data Citation and Attribution in Linguistics website has lots of information relevant to this topic here.

Date: Tuesday 28th February
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Venue: The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7LY
Food and drinks available at the venue.

Contact Lauren Gawne ( or Peter Austin ( with any questions.

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