Report on BNC Work

17 March 1997

Claire Warwick

This report summarizes work carried out since my appointment as Resource Development Officer in August 1996. My primary responsibilities are to provide support provision to current users of the BNC and to publicise and increase awareness of the BNC and its applications among potential users.

User Support

Updating the database of licensees.

The database was ported from a DOS based SQL system to Microsoft Access. I then added all the names of new licensees, and checked that the email details of current licensees were correct. Having updated our list of contacts I then subscribed all licensees to the email discussion list bnc-discuss, so that they can be kept informed about any new developments. As new orders come in I add the details about the licensees to the database, before the CDs are sent out.

List owner for bnc-discuss.

The existing mailing list, bnc-discuss, was moved from the OUCS VAX system to a new maillist program, and I have been actively trying to encourage subscribers to use it as the primary location for discussion of matters relevant to the BNC and corpus linguistics in general. It is also used for announcements about the BNC, for error reports etc. I answer email queries sent to the list and also sent directly to us at OUCS. This provides ongoing support for users, especially new ones who may experience problems installing the system.

The BNC handbook

I have helped in the preparation of the handbook for the BNC, by checking that all the suggested tasks using the Sara software package work properly, and by helping with the proof-reading of the handbook

Promotion of the BNC

Redesign and expansion of web site

A substantial amount of effort has gone into revising and expanding the BNC project's web pages. I redesigned and restructured the pages to provide more immediate access to matters of common concern and to simplify navigation through them. I also set up some new sections: a bibliography of published articles about the BNC, including their full text where this was available, and a set of reports on conferences relevant to the BNC. I have also enlarged and keep updated a page of links to other corpora, and to relevant resources in corpus linguistics.

Conferences

I have attended the following conferences this year,

TALC 96 (Lancaster University).
The conference concentrated on the uses of corpora in language teaching. This is an area in which we wish to raise awareness of the BNC's potential use. To this end two papers were given, about the SARA software package and using the BNC as a Language Learner resource. As a result of the success of these papers and recognition of the importance of the BNC's contribution to language teaching, we have been asked to host the next TALC conference in Oxford in 1998.
Corpus Research-Sharing Interpretations (Birmingham University),
The was the first of a new series of seminars intended to share the results of work in progress in the area of corpus linguistics and NLP. These will be attended by scholars working in the fields of corpus based research. We felt that it was important that I should attend this, to help spread awareness of the BNC and its use as a research tool. I have been invited to attend the next seminar in March.
Open workshop on text analysis software. (CTI Centre for Textual Studies, Oxford)
The purpose of this workshop, held in November 1996, was to demonstrate the latest text and corpus analysis tools and their use in teaching and research in higher education. I gave demonstrations of searching the BNC using the SARA software package. As a result of this workshop I was invited by Professor Frank Knowles, to give a demonstration of SARA and paper about the BNC at ETLL7.
Educational Technology and Language Learning 7 (Aston University)
This was a conference organised jointly by the CTI centre for Modern Languages and Aston University. The conference, about the use of computer assisted language learning, was attended by a small invited audience of language teachers and researchers and programmers with a specialist interest in CALL. As with TALC, this allowed me to explain the uses of the BNC as a language learner resource, and to introduce SARA to a new audience.

Through my attendance at conferences I have aimed to disseminate information about the BNC and to promote its use and that of the SARA software package to the user community. The varied types of audience attracted by the different conferences has allowed such information to reach a wide variety of potential new users.