Call for Guest Editors

30 Nov 2020
Groups audience: 

Hi all,
We are seeking to add one or more guest editors to the editorial team for a special issue on language documentation and the assessment of documentary materials with the Journal of Open Humanities Data. Please see the information below about the theme of the special issue and send an email to if interested.


Richard Griscom

Leiden University


Language Documentation: Assessment and Recognition


In reaction to the rapid decline in linguistic diversity around the world, there has been a broad call for the increased allocation of resources and efforts to support the documentation of endangered languages and linguistic practices, and furthermore the active participation of speech communities in the documentation process (Himmelmann, 1998; Rice, 2011). This is reflected in the emergence of journals, conferences and workshops, as well as funding agencies and programs dedicated to supporting the discipline of language documentation.


Despite these encouraging developments, the lack of “guidelines and metrics for evaluating data creation, curation, sharing, and re-use” poses a significant challenge for practitioners of language documentation, who often struggle to earn recognition from the academic community for the documentary records that they produce (Berez-Kroeker et al., 2018; Riesberg, 2018). There is an expressed need specifically for peer-review of documentary outputs, but no established standards for doing so (Thieberger et al., 2016; LSA Executive Committee, 2018; Woodbury, 2014; Haspelmath and Michaelis, 2014).


The aim of this Special Issue of the Journal of Open Humanities Data (JOHD) is to develop a detailed outline of what an effective peer-review process for documentary materials might look like. We welcome contributions that explore assessment criteria and procedures, as well as peer-authored reviews and curator-authored overview articles of documentary materials.


Submissions can include but are not limited to:

  • Articles discussing assessment criteria, such as:
    • Open access
    • Non-proprietary data formats
    • Long-term preservation
    • Access restrictions for sensitive materials
    • Community access
    • Descriptive metadata
    • Number of speakers in the record, the proportion of speakers by sex and age
    • Number of data collectors, the proportion of data collectors by sex, age, community membership
    • Distribution of speech genres, planning types, and interactivity in the record
    • Volume and quality of audio-visual materials
    • Version control
  • Articles discussing assessment procedures and recognition, such as
    • Assessment at multiple developmental stages of the documentary record
    • Contextual assessment (e.g. the social and technological context of the speech community and the research or linguistic context)
    • The roles of individual reviewers and/or authoritative bodies in conducting assessment
    • Assessment by community members and other non-academic peers
    • Internal assessment procedures in use by language archives
    • The role of assessment in improving recognition of documentary materials
    • Potential pitfalls in the implementation of assessment standards
  • Peer-authored review articles of documentary materials
  • Curator-authored overview articles of documentary materials (e.g. as described in Sullivant, 2020; see also Salffner, 2015; Mazzitelli, 2020)


The Journal of Open Humanities Data (JOHD) is a growing open-access peer-reviewed academic journal specifically dedicated to publications describing humanities research objects, software, and methods with high potential for reuse. These might include curated resources like (annotated) linguistic corpora, ontologies, and lexicons, as well as databases, maps, atlases, linked data objects, and other data sets created with qualitative, quantitative, or computational methods.


JOHD provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. Authors remain the copyright holders and grant third parties the right to use, reproduce, and share the article according to the Creative Commons license agreement. Authors are encouraged to publish their data in recommended repositories.


Berez-Kroeker, Andrea L., Lauren Gawne, Susan Smythe Kung, Barbara F. Kelly, Tyler Heston, Gary Holton, Peter Pulsifer, et al. 2018. Reproducible research in linguistics: A position statement on data citation and attribution in our field. Linguistics 56(1). 1–18.


Haspelmath, Martin & Susana Maria Michaelis. 2014. Annotated corpora of small languages as refereed publications: A vision. Diversity Linguistics Comment.


Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 1998. Documentary and descriptive linguistics. Linguistics 36. 161–195.


LSA Executive Committee. 2018. Statement on Evaluation of Language Documentation for Hiring, Tenure, and Promotion. (29 November, 2020).


Mazzitelli, Lidia Federica. 2020. Documentation of Lakurumau: Making the case for one more language in Papua New Guinea. Language Documentation & Conservation 14. 215–237.


Rice, Keren. 2011. Documentary Linguistics and Community Relations. Language Documentation & Conservation 5. 187–207.


Salffner, Sophie. 2015. A guide to the Ikaan language and culture documentation. Language Documentation & Conservation 9. 237–267.


Sullivant, Ryan. 2020. Archival description for language documentation collections. Language Documentation & Conservation 14. 520–578.


Thieberger, Nick, Anna Margetts, Stephen Morey & Simon Musgrave. 2016. Assessing Annotated Corpora as Research Output. Australian Journal of Linguistics 36(1). 1–21.


Woodbury, Anthony C. 2014. Archives and audiences: Toward making endangered language documentations people can read, use, understand, and admire. Language Documentation and Description 12(Special Issue on Language Documentation and Archiving). 19–36.