New databases, new research questions

On Friday 3 November, the University of Leiden presented a symposium on Open Access. In order to show to what extent new databases call for new approaches to research, I presented the attached paper, which deals with OED, ODNB and ECCO. The paper was in Dutch; if anyone would like to read the version in English, I’d be happy to provide it. Download file

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  1. ingrid tieken

    There are even more variants to my name! Noel Osselton told me earlier this week that in the New DNB I am listed in the credits under O as “Ostade, Ingrid Tieken-Boon van”, and that Paul Boogaard, in IJL 19, p. 117 refers to me as “I. Tieken-Boonstra”!
    But it isn’t just a hyphen than causes problems, as Osselton himself is referred to variously as “Ossleton/Osleston/Ossulston”, so he offered me his sympathy.

  2. ingrid tieken

    New databases may indeed lead to new research questions, and in our project we are actively thinking about what those questions might be. But in a recent article called “Usage Guidance in Early Dictionaries of English” (International Journal of Lexicography 2006, 19/1) Noel Osselton warns against the danger of just focussing on the statistics which can be obtained by means of doing full-text searches in such databases. Thus, he says that “word-searching on its own fails to do justice to the methods employed by the first English compilers” (2006:100). He points out that his own study of 1958 presented a fuller account of usage marks such as daggers in early dictionaries, and also refers to “Kerling’s exhaustive account of the treatment of archaic words” (2006:101). Kerling’s study was published in 1979. I think he is right: even though the new possibilities with online and other databases might tempt us to focus on the immediate and more easily obtainable results only, we should not forget that earlier studies exist which were carried out with strict scholarly rigour, even though the research tools available were from a present-day perspective much more limited. As always, results obtained from research should be interpreted in the light of previous scholarship, even if new research tools seems to produce new results.
    Kerling, J. 1979. Chaucer in Early English Dictionaries. The Old Word Tradition in English Lexicography. The Hague: Nijhoff (Leiden University Press)
    Osselton, N.E. 1958. Branded Words in English Dictionaries before Johnson. Groningen: J.B. Wolters.

  3. Nuria Yanez-Bouza

    With regard to Ingrid’s comment on the issue of academic citations, I agree it’s a complete nightmare, and rather annoying.
    My full name is Nuria Yáñez Bouza, where Nuria is my name, Yáñez is first surname, taken from my dad’s, and Bouza is my second surname, taken from my mum’s (I’m Spanish).
    When I first moved to UK (1998) I refused to hyphenate my surname, but after years struggling with databases which messed up my records, I got tired of being called Miss Bouza and of spending my time trying to figure out what way my name has been entered in this or that database. In the end, I’ve given up and decided to use the hyphenated convention to avoid confusion and to make life easier in the English-speaking academic world. I’m not happy with that, though.
    My surname is even more complicated because of the “tilde” and the “eñe” of Yáñez. I’ve given up that too. When the symbols were not recognised, my name would come up all gibberish.
    As you can see in the signature of this post, I sign as Nuria Yanez-Bouza. One gets tired of trying out all possible combinations with/without hyphen, with/without tilde, and – or with/without eñe. I find it very unfair.

  4. robin straaijer

    What struck me most about all the talks at the symposium Open Access Leiden was the great concern with quality control of academic open access publishing. This happens by peer-reviewing in conventional publishing and indeed this is very important. The discussion here is mainly one of to what extent scholars need this service of peer-reviewing from the established, credited academic publishers. I would say that the irretractability of uploaded papers, as happens on ArXiv, will go some way to insure that scholars upload ‘serious’ papers, as they will be available to the public forever. In addition, as also mentioned by professor Visser during the panel discussion, researchers and scholars in small fields–and there are a lot of those–already know who produces quality papers and they are well able to organise their own open access system to publish their papers. They do not necessarily need the seal of approval from the publishing establishment.
    An example of this is the online journal Historical Sociolinguistics and Sociohistorical Linguistics hosted by Leiden University. Many other institutes and projects run websites such as this and I think that in addition to worrying about top-down implementation of open access applications, universities should also work to organise these forms of bottom-up open access projects.
    Clearly, the road to complete open access is long, many difficulties will have to be overcome and many minds will have to be changed. But the future is open!

  5. ingrid tieken

    One of the issues raised at the symposium was the question of the use of citation indexes, which is quite different for the sciences compared to the humanities. In my case, I was informed by Janus Linmans from the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (Leiden) that if I were a scientist I would be unwise to publish under my name in its full form. This is what he found:

    TIEKEN I 3 x
    TIEKEN IBV 1 x
    TIEKEN J 1 x (?)
    OSTADE I 1 x

    In addition:

    TIEKEN I, VAN OSTADE B (two authors!)

    Quite a nightmare in other words, but what can I do? I wonder how things are for colleagues in Finland, who also usually publish under their full (married) name, from from Spain, who carry both their father’s and their mother’s names.

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