Possibilities of digital communication in linguistics (How to do X in linguistics 2)

I noticed that scientists deal with digital communication very differently: some avoid all sorts of platforms, others are much more present and involved in the discussions that are taking place in the online world. Digital communication as a linguist (or scientist in general) also includes sharing your research output. This does not have to be an article in a high-ranking journal. As a student, you can start by publishing your thesis, conference presentation slides, or a preprint. In this post, I’ll illustrate some of the possibilities that linguists and other researchers have to discuss and share their work.

Why is it important to be visible online?

Research needs to be shared so that your colleagues can find, read, and discuss your contributions to the field. Especially, if you are a doctoral student or a junior researcher! When you are a student, often only your supervisor knows about the amazing work you do. In contrast, senior scientists benefit from their extensive network. Newcomers can therefore use well-established platforms to expand the readership of their work.

Where to start?

Start simple: most universities or institutes provide the opportunity for setting up a personal profile on the university/institute website. Fill in all the blanks and add the link of your personal page to your e-mail signature. But be aware that the site may disappear when you change to another university/institute, so make sure you save your data before you leave.

If you feel up for a challenge, you can also create your own personal website. There are various platforms that offer templates to set up and host a personalized website (e.g., GoDaddy). A completely free option is GitHub pages which provides templates and a vast amount of freely available inspirations. The page is built from a GitHub repository that is rendered into a website with the suffix github.io. To see how it looks like, you can check out my repository and website. No matter which solution you choose, make sure that you are able to update the content of your website by yourself. It’s no use having the most creative website if you have to ask someone every time you want to correct a typo or add an article. Some well-established researchers get along quite well without a personal website. So you may only use your university/institute website or one of the platforms, I’ll discuss below.

Online platforms (for all scientists)

Many platforms offer researchers the opportunity to share their work. However, some of them are designed like social media platforms (e.g., ResearchGate). That way one might run the risk of spending too much time and energy following, updating, and posting. Nevertheless, the platforms are useful to inform your colleagues about your newest presentation, preprint, or article.

  • ResearchGate: It’s free and easy to edit. In addition, you can connect, follow, and share your research with your colleagues. If you don’t have an article yet, you can add the slides of your conference presentations or thesis.
  • Academia: There is a free version, but the interesting statistics are hidden behind a paywall. I found that some of my colleagues use Academia instead of ResearchGate. That’s why I joined both platforms.
  • ORCID: This is basically your unique identifier as a researcher. Most journals will ask you to provide it when your article is accepted for publication.
  • GoogleScholar: As soon as you publish your first article, you can set up your account.
  • Twitter: It is very likely that you are already “on” Twitter even if you have no account (try googling "YOUR NAME + Twitter"). For example, when someone posts a picture of you presenting a talk. Twitter can be used as a social networking platform but I realized that many researchers also promote their most recent articles in a post. That way, you get informed about the newest literature in your field.

In general, it is essential to neatly organize your articles and share your work. You do not need to have an account for all these platforms and you should think about how much time you want to spend maintaining your online profiles. It would also be worthwhile to have one platform/website that you keep updated. You should also consider how you want to share your work. If your article is open access, you can post the link instead of a PDF. So your colleagues can download the article directly from the journal webpage.

Online platforms (for linguists)

The following list of online platforms is of special interest for linguists and other scientists working in humanities or life sciences.

  • The LINGUIST List: The website provides information about conferences, summer/winter schools, study programs, and mailing lists, specifically for linguists. The mailing lists are a great way to get in contact with your peers, ask them questions, and share your knowledge on incoming queries. In addition, LINGUIST List has a “Ask a linguist” section where you can ask or answer questions.
  • LingBuzz: It can be used for a literature search of articles in linguistics and you can upload your own article for free. At the same time, it is a community space for linguists.
  • Humanities Commons: A network platform for everyone working in humanities and a place to upload your thesis, working papers, presentation slides, and teaching material. Hcommons also offers the possibility to create a WordPress Web site.
  • PsyArXiv: For researchers working in psycholinguistics or related fields, this service can be used to upload your preprint. The archive is supported by the Open Science Framework.

Especially in the humanities, it is not yet common to publish preprints of your articles or preregister your hypothesis (see the website of the Center for Open Science). But good scientific practice should include making your research available to everyone.

More ideas

There are also other ways to make people aware of your work. For example, you can record your next conference presentation and share it on platforms such as Vimeo or YouTube. It could be a slide show with narration in PowerPoint or a short video clip created with iMovie (for an example click here). If you don’t have any upcoming conferences, you can start with a very short video in which you introduce your research profile (mine looks like this) or make an elevator pitch about your project.

An idea for which I received a lot of positive feedback is a virtual bookshelf. This can be easily integrated into your personal website and it sparks interesting conversations. There is a general interest in what other people read and often people pause to check out a friend/colleague’s bookshelf. In addition, maybe a few of your students will get inspired to read some of your favorite books.

Keep in mind that developing an online presence takes time and is an ongoing process. Start with one thing. I’d suggest having one well-maintained profile rather than many half-finished ones.

Further readings


Cite this blog post
Annika Tjuka (2020, December 7). Possibilities of digital communication in linguistics (How to do X in linguistics 2). Computer-Assisted Language Comparison in Practice. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/m6kx

This entry was posted in How to do X in Linguistics? and tagged , , on by .

About Annika Tjuka

My main goal is to answer questions about linguistic diversity with a focus on language variation in word meanings. I have a BA and MA degree in linguistics from the Humboldt University Berlin and am currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Jena. I am a language scientist studying patterns and causes of words with multiple meanings. For my work, I use data from language documentation, large-scale databases, and computational methods. In my Master’s thesis, I conducted the first systematic study of body part extensions such as table leg and foot of the mountain. I examined the frequency of 95 expressions in 13 languages and the preferences for underlying analogy patterns based on similarity in shape, spatial orientation, and function. The first project of my doctoral research established the Database of Cross-Linguistic Norms, Ratings, and Relations for Words and Concepts (NoRaRe), which contains 98 datasets from linguistics and psychology across 40 languages including 65 word properties.

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