Not just a linguistic resource but a unique record of humanity

robbie-love 150Robbie Love is a PhD student at the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) at Lancaster University, where he spent four years working on the Spoken British National Corpus 2014 project.

 

harry-strawson 150Harry Strawson is a writer living in London and contributed recordings to the Spoken British National Corpus 2014.

Here Robbie and Harry share two different perspectives on the Spoken British National Corpus project ahead of its release next week.

Every day billions of words are uttered in hundreds of languages all over the world. For corpus linguists, that is, people who study the form, use and function of language using specialised computer software, speech is like the golden snitch in a game of Quidditch. It appears to be everywhere around you and yet it is incredibly difficult to capture.

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How happy are we? Measuring happiness through the ages

daniel-sgroiDaniel Sgroi is Associate Professor of Economics and a theme leader of the ESRC-funded Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) at the University of Warwick. He is also lead author of the recent CAGE policy report Understanding Happiness, exploring how we can measure subjective wellbeing in the past using big data.

Today is the United Nations International Day of Happiness, first launched four years ago. It highlights happiness and wellbeing as important goals for developing societies – going beyond a narrow focus on a growing economy. Continue reading

What happens when we don’t have good data?

Amy-Sippitt 150.fwAmy Sippitt is Full Fact‘s research and impact manager. She runs a team of fact-checkers, and promotes high-quality research into the impact of fact-checking and the misinformation ecosystem.

The Need to Know project was launched in February to anticipate and plan for what information is needed for upcoming public decisions. Here Amy — who co-ordinates the project — explains more about what the project hopes to achieve.

Experts can and do work together to call out spurious factual claims and argument. But they also play a big role in laying the groundwork for debate. This starts with attempting to predict the big debates that will be happening in five years’ time, and producing information to inform these debates before things get too heated for the information to be heard.

This is exactly what the Need to Know project is about — a joint project between Full Fact, the Economic and Social Research Council, the UK Statistics Authority, and the House of Commons Library. Continue reading

How secure data-sharing can help ‘Daniel Blakes’

Chris Coates is web editor for the ESRC-funded Administrative Data Service. He coordinates the Network newsletter, and helps to ensure that ADRN’s communications are clear and transparent.

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Winning Outstanding British film at the 2017 BAFTAs – not to mention the prizes it’s already taken, including the Palme d’Or at Cannes – I, Daniel Blake, the tale of a man’s dealings with the benefits system, is having another moment in the limelight. Continue reading

Dreaming about legislative change: an opportunity for data-driven research that must be seized

Vanessa Cuthill worked at the ESRC for the past seven years, most recently as Deputy Director of Evidence, Impact and Strategic Partnerships.  She now works as Director for Research and Enterprise at the University of Essex.

In this blog Vanessa explains how, over five years of working with researchers, statisticians, funders and policymakers, she has explored barriers that currently inhibit opportunities for social science researchers wanting to access and use administrative data, and how we are now closer than ever to improving the UK legal landscape for data sharing.

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For the past five years the ESRC has been highlighting the opportunities and challenges facing researchers who seek to use ‘administrative data’ which is collected routinely by UK government departments for its operational and transactional purposes.  Continue reading