Language Documentation Collections: Assessment and Recognition

Call for Papers


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” (Berez-Kroeker et al., 2018) 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 (Riesberg, 2018), reflecting a discipline-specific manifestation of broader lack of recognition of the merit of open scholarship for review and hiring (Alperin et al. 2019). 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 Collection 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, and how such a system would foster better recognition for these materials in academic evaluation systems such as in hiring, promotion, and tenure. We welcome contributions that explore assessment criteria and procedures, as well as peer-authored reviews and curator-authored case studies of documentary materials.

Submissions on the following topics and related areas are encouraged:

  1. Articles discussing models of assessment for:
  • Applications of levels of access (e.g. Open Access, restricted access, sensitive materials, community access) and associated intellectual property information and reusability
  • Data organization, quality of collection description, and artifact metadata
  • Quantity, quality, and modality of the artifacts included in the collection
  • File formats and software dependencies
  • Comprehensiveness of the documentary record (e.g. diversity of speakers, speech genres, and speaker interactivity)
  • Provenance of the collection, lifecycle and evolution of the data, version control and history, long-term preservation.
  • Capacity for reuse of language documentation data for cross-disciplinary endeavors
  1. Articles discussing assessment procedures and recognition, such as:
  • Contextual assessment which takes social, technological, and linguistic factors into account
  • The roles of individual reviewers and/or authoritative bodies in conducting assessment and promoting recognition and reuse of materials
  • Assessment by community members and other non-academic peers
  • Internal assessment procedures in use by language archives
  • Assessment at multiple developmental stages of the documentary record
  • Labor issues and reward systems for performing assessments
  • The role of assessment in improving recognition of documentary materials or contributing to the further development of the materials (i.e. users as curators)
  • Variation in regional or national assessment standards
  1. Peer-authored reviews or curator-authored case studies of documentary materials that illustrate or engage with one or more of the above points.

Submission Instructions

All submissions should be 3,000-6,000 words in length (references not included), and will be considered full length research papers in the JOHD submission system. The deadline for submissions to this special collection is October 1st, 2021. Manuscripts will be sent for single-blind peer review after editorial consideration, and accepted papers will be published online in the journal’s special collection. Please follow the submission guidelines to submit your manuscript and please indicate that you are submitting to the special collection on Language Documentation in your cover letter.

Please note that there are Publication Fees for accepted papers. If you have any questions about fees, contact Anastasia Sakellariadi at If you have any questions about the special collection, feel free to contact the editors at

Call Bibliography

Alperin, Muñoz Nieves, Schimanski, Fischman, Niles & McKiernan (2019)
, , , , & (). How significant are the public dimensions of faculty work in review, promotion and tenure documents?. eLife, 8. e42254.
Berez-Kroeker, Gawne, Kung, Kelly, Heston, Holton, Pulsifer, Beaver, Chelliah, Dubinsky, Meier, Thieberger, Rice & Woodbury (2018)
, , , , , , , , , , , , & (). Reproducible research in linguistics: A position statement on data citation and attribution in our field. Linguistics, 56(1). 1–18.
Haspelmath & Michaelis (2014)
& (). Annotated corpora of small languages as refereed publications: a vision [Billet]Diversity Linguistics Comment. Retrieved from
Himmelmann (1998)
(). Documentary and Descriptive Linguistics. Linguistics, 36(1). 161–195.
(). Statement on Evaluation of Language Documentation for Hiring, Tenure, and Promotion. Retrieved from
Mazzitelli (2020)
(). Documentation of Lakurumau: Making the case for one more language in Papua New Guinea. Language Documentation & Conservation, 14. 215–237. Retrieved from
Rice (2011)
(). Documentary Linguistics and Community Relations. Language Documentation & Conservation, 5. 187–207. Retrieved from
Riesberg (2018)
(). Reflections on descriptive and documentary adequacy. In McDonnell, B., Berez-Kroeker, A. & Holton, G. (Eds.), Reflections on Language Documentation 20 Years after Himmelmann 1998. (pp. 151–156). Honolulu. Retrieved from
Salffner (2015)
(). A guide to the Ikaan language and culture documentation. Language Documentation & Conservation, 9. 237–267. Retrieved from
Sullivant (2020)
(). Archival description for language documentation collections. Language Documentation & Conservation, 14. 520–578. Retrieved from
Thieberger, Margetts, Morey & Musgrave (2016)
, , & (). Assessing Annotated Corpora as Research Output. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 36(1). 1–21.
Woodbury (2014)
(). Archives and audiences: Toward making endangered language documentations people can read, use, understand, and admire. In Nathan, D. & Austin, P. (Eds.), Special Issue on Language Documentation and Archiving. (pp. 19–36). SOAS. Retrieved from
Hugh Paterson III
Hugh Paterson III
Director of Market Research

My research interests include typological patterns in articulatory phonetics; User Experience design in language tools; and graph theory applied to language and linguistics.

Richard Griscom
Richard Griscom
Field Linguist

My research interests include field linguistics, grammatical description, and language documentation.