New Preprint archive

I worry about data. It’s my job. I worry about how to analyze it, how to collect it, how to present it, and what happens to it. A particular worry for me at the moment is the very large amount of ‘grey’ publications for Australian language: that is, the language materials that are published locally, for example, by language centres or smaller publishers. There are also gems in working papers collections, some of which only exist in photocopies of photocopies at this stage. Some important work has come out of Hono(u)rs Theses, but that work isn’t often widely available, and unlike PhD theses, it tends not to make its way to university repositories. I have a large collection of such materials, both in print and in scanned format, and I presume that others do too, particularly the “older generation” of Australianists who did most of their work before putting stuff on the web was what one did as a matter of course.

Another area of accessibility in work on Australian languages is fire-walled publications (or subscription-only publications). There is an increasing attention to Open Access, but for various reasons, much work is either print-only or e-print but behind a firewall. But in many cases, authors are able to upload freely available preprints.

It’s important to make our work available to the many groups who are interested in language: to our linguist colleagues, to the wider scientific community, to the general public, and in particular to members of the Aboriginal community.

So, I’ve started a ‘community’ on Zenodo for Australian languages. Zenodo is an archive platform for sharing research. In a nutshell, you upload your paper, handout, or other item, give the site some information about the work’s metadata, and publish it. You choose a license to share your work under (it can be closed (archived), for example), upload the file(s), and presto!

Zenodo is somewhat similar to academia.edu and researchgate.net, in that it takes work and makes it available. However, there are also a couple of big differences. Both academia.edu and researchgate are for profit, while Zenodo is not for profit, and funded by CERN and programs in the EU’s Open Science Initiative. Zenodo uploads are publications, while the others’ aren’t. Zenodo assigns DOIs, allowing for referencing versions of publications (which makes it great for databases or dictionaries or other work that might have multiple editions or versions). It also lets you upload collections of files as a single item (which the others don’t), and it works well with code repositories like github, so you can publish the paper, supporting documentation, and code at the same time. If you have sound files, you can include them with the paper under the same DOI (which you can’t do on academia, for example)

Another issue is findability – in theory, everything on the web is ‘findable’ if you know what to search for. Search engines, however, optimize results, weighting results from different places differentially. I know from the experience of finding papers for ozpapers that it can be hard to find work on Australian languages, even when I have regular alerts set up. For example, not all university thesis repositories show up in google alerts (you have to know what to look for)

To contribute to Zenodo, go to https://zenodo.org/communities/australianlanguages/

You’ll see a list of current contributions and a button to upload.

If you have old handouts, or other useful information about Australian languages, that you would like to contribute but do not have the time/inclination to upload them, if you can get me the scans (or even paper copies), my students and I will upload them for you.

New paper in nature

Somewhat belatedly, here is a link to new work of mine and colleagues’ on gene-language coevolution in Pama-Nyungan, the peopling of Sahul, and migration and admixture in the Pleistocene. It was recently published in NatureThere’s a lot in this paper, a Genomic History indeed. There has been some media attention, particularly Michael Erard’s piece on Pama-Nyungan phylogenetics and how important computational work has been to recent advances in Australian language history. There’s also a summary piece in The Conversation, particularly about the genetic side of the paper.