Flag-waving for the UKLO

I’ve recently finished marking scripts for this year’s UKLO (United Kingdom Linguistics Olympiad), a national linguistics competition for school-age students. The competition paper contains a series of linguistic data problems which students tackle in their own schools. The most successful students then have a chance to compete for a place in the UK’s team for the International Linguistics Olympiad.

I’ve been a volunteer UKLO marker for several years, and I’m happy to be involved even in this small way. The competition gives students a taste of real linguistics, which involves analytical thinking and problem-solving; for some students it might be the first time they have seen language in this way. I was particularly pleased to read the educational rationale on the UKLO site emphasising the link between linguistics and maths – university departments offering linguistics degrees, please take note!

R Club

This is R Club! We’re an informal group of PRIM colleagues who try to improve our R skills by sharing tips and techniques and discussing current problems. While most of us are using R for all our data analysis, it can be hard to set aside time to focus specifically on advancing our skills, instead of simply getting an analysis finished. Long-term I think it’s an investment worth making, which is why I started this group, together with João Veríssimo. The group has met only a handful of times so far, but it’s been fun working out the best format for the group meetups, and I’m excited about what we can all learn from each other!


Link: Colin Phillips on the peer review process

Colin Phillips (University of Maryland) blogs about the peer review process for academic publishing. Despite the despairing title (“A grading method from hell”), his post makes a positive contribution to this debate as it reflects his experience with the Frontiers peer review model. 

I’ve been both an author and a reviewer for Frontiers in Psychology/Language Sciences, and I really appreciated the speed and focus of the process. The detailed questions for reviewers really highlight what the review should be about; this is especially useful for relative newcomers like me. I also wonder whether the Frontiers model is helped by the fact that reviewers’ identities are revealed to the authors at the end of the process. This is an extra push for reviewers to be fast, helpful and courteous, and there is certainly more room for these qualities in peer review!