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Title: Free Sharing of Linguistic Research/Information
Submitter: Don Killian
Description: Dear Linguists,

I have no doubts on morphology, phonology, grammar, or any such subfield of
linguistics that I'd like to ask about today. Rather, it's about ethics
within our field, and I'm questioning the validity of certain practices.
I'd love any advice you could give on suggestions to help change this way
of thinking.

I've been working with typological linguistics for a while now. In order to
do good comparative work, you need to obtain a fairly large amount of
source material. Unfortunately, I've run into problems regarding accessing
that information. While I've met many wonderful people who are very open
with sharing their information, it is sometimes difficult to gain access to
unpublished dissertations/theses, or to articles appearing in journals that
charge unreasonable subscription or single access fees. Some others have
been less willing to distribute their information. It causes a lot of
people a lot more work to try and hunt down and obtain information, often
at great costs in time and money. It doesn't help anyone, and it hinders a
lot. A lot of good researchers are prevented from contributing meaningful
material to our field.

The more we spread information about linguistics, the more people can learn
and investigate new areas. If it's a matter of investing time and effort, I
know a lot of students, researchers, and professors, particularly here in
Nordic Europe, who are very much in favor of the idea of freely available
information, and would put in a lot of effort to make a database happen. I
myself would be willing to head some sort of cross-linguistic project to
get a server with a large amount of primary material available.

While I'm open to anyone wishing to participate in the project, the most
important thing would be for people to be willing to distribute their
research. I am not looking for an open source project akin to Wikipedia,
and I want to make sure people are credited for their research. But at the
moment, financial considerations and copyright issues are preventing better
research from taking place. I'd like to see that change, particularly in
this day and age, where information is much more freely available, and
publishing costs are not as big a concern. I welcome any opinions.

Best Regards,
Don Killian
Date Posted: 21-Mar-2009
Linguistic Field(s): Discipline of Linguistics
LL Issue: 20.1001
Posted: 21-Mar-2009

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