Week Beginning 11th December 2017

On Monday this week I attended the Corpus Linguistics in Scotland event, which took place in the STELLA lab on the ground floor of the building I work in, which was very handy.  It was a useful event to attend, as the keynote talk was about the SPADE project, which I’m involved with, and it was very helpful to listen to an overview of the project and also to get a glimpse at some of the interesting research that is already going on in the project.  The rest of the day was split into two short paper sessions, one about corpus linguistics and the arts and humanities and the other about medical humanities.  There were some interesting talks in both sessions and it was great to hear a little about some of the research that’s going on at the moment.  It was also good to speak to some of the other attendees at the event, including Rhona Alcorn from SLD, Joanna Copaczyk, who I’m currently helping out with a research proposal, and Stevie Barrett from DASG.

I spent a lot of the rest of the week involved in research proposals.  I’d been given another AHRC technical review to do, and this one was a particularly tricky one to get right, which took rather a lot of time.  I also started working on a first draft of a Technical Plan for Joanna’s project.  I read through all of the materials she’d previously sent me and spent some time thinking through some of the technical implications.  I started to write the plan and completed the first couple of sections, by which point I had another series of questions to fire off to Joanna.  I also spoke to Graeme about some TEI XML and OCR issues, wondering if he had encountered a similar sort of workflow in a previous project.  Graeme’s advice was very helpful, as it usually is.  I hope to get a first draft of the plan completed early next week.  On Friday I had an email from the AHRC to say that my time as a technical reviewer would end at the end of the month.  I have apparently been a technical reviewer for three years now.  They also stated that from February next year the AHRC will be dropping Technical Plans and the technical review process.  Instead they will just have a data management plan and will integrate the reviewing of technical details within the more general review process.  I’m in two minds about this.  On the one hand it is clear that the AHRC just don’t have enough technical reviewers which makes having such a distinct focus on the technical aspects of reviews difficult to sustain.  But on the other hand, I worry that Arts and Humanities reviewers who are experts in a particular research area may lack the technical knowledge to ascertain whether a research proposal is at all technically feasible, which will almost certainly result in projects getting funded that are simply not viable.  It’s going to be interesting to see how this all works out, and also to see how the new data management plans will be structured.

On Friday afternoon I attended a Skype call for the Linguistic DNA project, along with Marc and Fraser.  It was good to hear a bit more about how the project is progressing, and to be taken through a presentation about some of the project’s research that the team in Sheffield are putting together.  I’m afraid I didn’t have anything to add to the proceedings, though, as I haven’t done any work for the project since the last Skype meeting.  There doesn’t really seem to be anything anyone wants me to do for the project at this stage.

Also this week I had a phone conversation with Pauline Mackay about collaborative tools that might be useful for the Burns project to use.  I suggested Basecamp as a possible tool, as I know this has been used successfully by others in the School, for example Jane Stuart-Smith has used it to keep track of several projects.  I also had a chat with Luca about some work he’s been doing on topic modelling and sentiment analysis, which all sounds really interesting.  Hopefully I can arrange another meeting of Arts developers in the new year and Luca can tell us all a bit more about this.  I also spent a bit of time updating the Romantic National Song Network website for Kirsteen McCue, and I read through an abstract for a paper Fraser is submitting that will involve the sparklines we created for the Historical Thesaurus.