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Director weekly highlights 18 June

Jane Simpson, Outreach

Date: 18 June 2021

Farewell to Susan Jiang, COEDL's finance officer, who has been such an excellent money hygienist, and leaves our finances in a fabulously flossed state. Until we fill her shoes, send your finance requests to 

The Queens's birthday honours produced some good news. Congratulations to: 

  • Wendy Baarda, ‘For service to the Indigenous community of Yuendumu.’ Wendy has worked at Yuendumu as a teacher, teacher-linguist and strong fighter for bilingual education since 1973. 
  • Brother Steve Morelli, who shared the Patji-Dawes language teaching award in 2019, and who this year has received the medal of the Order of Australia, ‘For service to the Indigenous community of the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales.’ 
  • Tim McNamara, ‘For significant service to tertiary education, and to applied linguistics.’ 

It was also lovely to see that ANU's University Librarian, Roxanne Missingham, received an award ‘For service to the library and information sciences’. She and the ANU library have done wonderful things in setting up ANU Press as a publishing house with an open access online repository, print-on-demand, and good copy-editing requirements. It's a great model for making books available to the world. Asia-Pacific Linguistics publishes as a series through ANU Press. On other book fronts, congratulations to Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia, a CoEDL alumnus, whose book on "the socio-historical dynamics behind language diversification" in the Andes has just appeared in John Benjamins. 

A rather winding path leads me from open access publishing to ethical research: how hard it is to define this, and how it can take us deep into the sludge at the bottom of the weeds. One current weed mass: Are linguistic data like blood samples? If you collect a de-identified corpus of people's language /blood samples for purpose X (e.g. phonetic variation/obesity research), and then after your project has ended someone wants to use the corpus for purpose Y (e.g. syntactic variation/herpes research), do you have to go back to all the people you recorded and ask for consent again? You do if it is blood samples. But most linguistics researchers don't have the funds to do this. So, what happens if archives say that they won't accept material that can't be looked at except to verify the original findings? If you want to allow re-use, then it really, really makes sense to discuss publication of the de-identified corpus with your consultants and ensure that the corpus is published. 

Other weed masses are research data management plans and IP agreements with Indigenous communities. Who from the community signs off? What organisation has the time and funds to go through a complicated legal document? Do speakers agree on what information can be made public? Do they agree on who can tell what stories/provide what information, or whether the stories or information belong to one family or more than one family? Great stuff for long seminar discussions, not so great for putting into practice in fieldwork.  

AIATSIS has published guidelines (March 2021) for applying the new AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research (2020), which has some welcome comments relevant to much linguistic research: "In some low-risk, small-scale projects involving research with individuals or families, evidence of support from the individual or family may be sufficient." The AIATSIS code also notes (p.7) that the review of the National Statement may change the requirement that "all research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be subject to ethics review by a human research ethics committee with relevant skills and experience" "to be consistent with the principle of proportionate review." If this happens, then very low risk protocols could have expedited ethics clearance. 

It's been a week for CoEDL engagement — how impressive that 400+ people attended WSU's online seminar on the benefits of multilingualism. And check out the latest Languages special issue where Jill Wigglesworth and NT Education colleagues describe the challenges involved in creating a literacy app that is useful. 

If you're interested in language teaching, note that the Patji-Dawes award will be presented at the Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Association online conference on 6 July. Advisory Board Member Anne-Marie Morgan is giving a keynote at the conference. 

The CoEDL website is also expanding its resources. We've now put up some videos from First Nations people reflecting on the language ecologies they live in across Australia, and the roles of different languages. This arises from the forum on the National Indigenous Languages Report held by CoEDL last year. 

Finally, I have just caught up with more details on UQ's Indigenous-led research on Indigenous languages project (UQ) (2021-2023), with Samantha Disbray, Michael Haugh, Felicity Meakins, Lowanna Tudor-Smith, Paul Williams and several Indigenous research fellows, in partnership with First Languages Australia, Queensland Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee, and State Library of Queensland. Such a wonderful and ambitious project. Among other things, they will establish a Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Language Revitalisation and develop pathways for Indigenous students, from high school to undergraduate to doctoral student. Something to inspire us all. 


Jane Simpson, 
Deputy Director 

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University