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LINGUIST List 20.1060

Wed Mar 25 2009

Disc: Re: Free Sharing of Linguistic Research/Info

Editor for this issue: Catherine Adams <catherinlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Martin Haspelmath, Re: Free Sharing of Linguistic Research/Info

Message 1: Re: Free Sharing of Linguistic Research/Info
Date: 23-Mar-2009
From: Martin Haspelmath <haspelmatheva.mpg.de>
Subject: Re: Free Sharing of Linguistic Research/Info
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I fully share Don Killian's sentiments: Linguistics (especially world-wide
comparative linguistics) urgently needs better ways of aggregating its
data, but while the technical limitations for sharing data are quickly
disappearing, the social limitations are often still strong.

But the solutions are known, it seems to me. Basically, there are two
possibilities (for new material; I'm not discussing heritage material here,
which is more complicated): (1) Open-access publication, and (2) archive
dissemination, as practiced widely in physics and astronomy (e.g. arxiv.org).

There is a movement toward both of these in linguistics (witness new
open-access journals such as Linguistic Discovery or the e-Language
journals, as well as archives such as ROA and Lingbuzz), but the movement
is slow, and there is no real possibility for open-access publication of
book-length material yet. Linguists generally still publish in
restricted-access form because traditional journals and traditional books
carry more prestige, and it's extremely difficult to bring about a shift in
prestige. The more of the established linguists publish their work in
open-access form, and the more innovative open-access publications we have,
the more quickly will we see the change happening, but there's not much
younger linguists can do at this point, I'm afraid.

For descriptive material, however, it might be a good idea to create
another archive, along the lines of ROA or LingBuzz, where authors can
upload their grammars and dictionaries, or their descriptive articles. This
is something that can probably be done with relatively few resources, and
it could address one of the issues that Don Killian raises. (Personally, I
don't find such archives for self-publication ideal, but they're much
easier to create and maintain than new journals.)

Martin Haspelmath

To read the previous threads in this discussion, please visit:

Linguistic Field(s): Discipline of Linguistics

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