Friday, February 14, 2020

Proposal for a Fieldwork Lab

This is a proposal for a Fieldwork Lab that we are working on at NYU. If anybody has feedback, let me know.

Proposal for a Fieldwork Lab

To facilitate fieldwork among students at NYU.
To hold regular meetings of the Fieldwork Discussion Group (FDG).
To create a Fieldwork Fund.
To lend fieldwork equipment to students.
To create an umbrella website for various fieldwork activities at NYU.
To secure a permanent room for working with consultants.

The purpose of the Fieldwork Lab will be to facilitate fieldwork among both the graduate students and the undergraduate students at NYU. There is much interest in the department in fieldwork, as shown by healthy enrollments in the Field Methods class and participation in the FDG. But there is no easy way for students to navigate the resources available, and it is especially difficult for them to get the proper equipment and funding for short term start-up projects. As noted below, a number of other universities (including Berkeley, McGill and UCSD) have created Fieldwork Labs. Other departments have created Fieldwork Labs, but do not have a web presence yet.

The FDG was created at the beginning of the academic year 2018-2019, and is now in its second year. The FDG meets on a regular basis throughout the semester (e.g., once every two weeks). Members of the Fieldwork Lab as well as people from the local community (e.g., Rutgers, CUNY, other departments at NYU) are invited to attend. The FDG is organized by student volunteers with faculty supervision. A description of the FDG is given below.

Students interested in doing fieldwork will be able to apply for funding from the Fieldwork Fund. Students will apply for the funds at any time of the year by submitting a short application which will be quickly reviewed by a rotating faculty member. For long term projects, the students will be encouraged to apply to standard funding sources (e.g., NSF DDRIG).

Students will be able to borrow equipment for short term fieldwork projects. The equipment made available will include recorders (Zoom H4n), video cameras, microphones and laptop computers (loaded with fieldwork related software). In addition, accessories to this equipment will also be made available (e.g., tripod, mic stand, cables, batteries, battery chargers). The equipment available will be listed on the lab website (see below), and administered by faculty members of the lab. In certain cases, the equipment may be shared between labs.

A lab website will be created which will include a schedule of events (e.g., talks in the FDG series), information on fieldwork resources (e.g., funding sources both NYU internal and external), descriptions of faculty and student fieldwork projects and other fieldwork related news (such as conferences and summer schools). The website will be created by a student with faculty supervision, and administered by rotating student and faculty volunteers.

It is often challenging to find quiet space to do fieldwork in the department. So we will secure a permanent room in a quiet location for students and faculty to work with consultants. This room will be also be used for the Field Methods course.

Fieldwork Discussion Group
This reading group will be about fieldwork in linguistics, and in particular about the connection between fieldwork and linguistic theory. The group will meet on average once every two weeks. Some topics include the following:

Discussions of recent and classical papers about fieldwork or involving a substantialfieldwork component.
Student and faculty presentations of ongoing work in the field.
Presentations by invited speakers on their own fieldwork experiences.
Discussions and workshops on software, equipment, workflow and tools.
Methodologies in the various domains (syntax, semantics, phonetics, etc.).
Archiving: selection of archive, access, restrictions, formats, costs, etc.
Ethics: consent forms, IRB approval, copyrights, community rights, etc.
Working with communities (establishing trust, teaching skills, revitalization, etc.)
Publishing fieldwork: traditional papers, grammars, primers, dictionaries, etc.
Funding sources and grant writing workshops.

Other Fieldwork Labs in the United States
Fieldwork Lab
The Fieldwork Lab provides a range of resources for the many Berkeley faculty, students, and postdoctoral scholars carrying out research with linguistic consultants, and for processing data that results from such work. These include a dedicated room for working with consultants, which is supplied with recording equipment, and a separate data processing room equipped with PC and Mac computers on which are installed a suite of applications useful for language documentation and analysis. Berkeley-affiliated faculty and students interested in working in the Fieldwork Lab or checking out recording equipment (for use in the Bay Area only) should contact Peter Jenks(link is external) or Lev Michael(link is external).

FieldWork Lab
Welcome to the McGill Linguistic Fieldwork Lab! Currently there is active research by students and other group members on Chichewa (Bantu), Kabyle (Amazigh), Chuj (Mayan), Ch’ol (Mayan), Malay (Austronesian), Shughni (Pamir), Georgian (Kartvelian), and Tagalog (Austronesian). Scroll down for current news and events and contact me if you’d like to get involved.

Linguistics Field Research Lab
( are faculty and students dedicated to the teaching and research of underdocumented and endangered languages. We are currently engaged in research projects on: Inuktitut (Eskimo-Aleut), Amahuaca (Panoan), Moro (Kordofanian), Choguita RarĂ¡muri (Uto-Aztecan), Ja'a Kumiai (Yuman), Rere (Kordofanian), Huastec Nahuatl (Uto-Aztecan), Cahuilla (Uto-Aztecan), Hmong (Hmong-Mien), Xiapu Min (Min, Sinitic), Gua (Guang, Kwa), Teotepec Eastern Chatino (Oto-Manguean), Turkish and Azerbaijani (Turkic).
We are committed to linguistic description and collaborative language documentation projects whose products serve both academic linguists and indigenous communities.
For more information, you can contact Gabriela Caballero (gcaballero at ucsd dot edu).

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