The Journal of Experimental Linguistics

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We usually avoid shop talk here on Language Log. So those of you who are here for the cartoons may want to move along, since I'm about to (mis-?) use this forum to announce a new journal.

The Journal of Experimental Linguistics is part of the Linguistic Society of America's eLanguage initiative. Like the rest of eLanguage, JEL is an Open Access online journal. Regular publication will begin towards the end of 2009.

JEL is a linguistic "journal of reproducible research", that is, a journal of reproducible computational experiments on topics related to speech and language. These experiments may involve the analysis of previously­ published corpus data, or of experiment­-specific data that is published for the occasion. Other relevant categories include computational simulations, implementations of diagnostic techniques or task scoring methods, methodological tutorials, and reviews of relevant new publications (including new data and software).

In all cases, JEL articles will be accompanied by executable recipes for re­creating all figures, tables, numbers and other results. These recipes will be in the form of source code that runs in some generally-­available computational environment.

Although JEL is centered in linguistics, we aim to publish research from the widest possible range of disciplines that engage speech and language experimentally, from electrical engineering and computer science to education, psychology, biology, and speech pathology. In this interdisciplinary context, "reproducible research" is especially useful in helping experimental and analytical techniques to cross over from one sub­field to another.

Publication is in online digital form only, with articles appearing as they complete the review process. A rigorous but rapid process of peer review, designed to take no more than 4-6 weeks from submission to publication, will be supplemented by a vigorously­-promoted system for adding moderated remarks and replies after publication.

The editorial board, in alphabetical order, is Alan Black, Steven Bird, Harald Baayen, Paul Boersma, Tim Bunnell, Khalid Choukri, Christopher Cieri, John Coleman, Eric Fosler­-Lussier, John Goldsmith, Jen Hay, Stephen Isard, Greg Kochanski, Lori Levin, Mark Liberman, Brian MacWhinney, Ani Nenkova, James Pennebaker, Stuart Shieber, Chilin Shih, David Talkin, Betty Tuller, and Jiahong Yuan. Mark Liberman is the editor in chief.

My involvement with this idea started with a Language Log post: "Executable Articles", 1/3/2007. There was some further discussion, on the blog and off, and Dieter Stein asked me to organize a special session on "Open Data and Reproducible Research" at the Berlin 6 Open Access conference. The JEL eLanguage proposal followed; the LSA executive committee approved it;  after some infrastructure work in the background, we're now ready to start accepting submissions; and JEL should be on the air by the end of the year.


  1. Randy Alexander said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 11:32 am

    This is brilliant. Bravo.

    And thank you.

  2. John Cowan said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

    ZOMG. Tell me this isn't a joke.

    How ideal can you get?

  3. acilius said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

    Very exciting!

  4. Faith said,

    July 23, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

    While we're plugging ourselves, I'd like to note that the eLanguage initiative is running Open Journal Systems, an open source journal management system developed in part by the excellent systems librarians at my home institution, Simon Fraser University.

  5. Kevin said,

    July 24, 2009 @ 1:11 am

    I love that the first few years will be experimental; it's the Experimental Journal of Experimental Linguistics.

    Brilliant idea. Thanks for doing it. May it be only the first of its kind.

  6. Psi Wavefunction said,

    July 24, 2009 @ 6:00 am

    Yay, this is exciting! More research should be available to the very public that indirectly funds it…

    So how long until the Linguistics departments ditch the Arts/Social Sciences/Humanities faculties and come over to the dark side (Science), administratively anyway? I mean, pretty much the only reason it hasn't been considered a 'science' by scientists was the rarity of experimentation in the conventional sense, but now it's becoming more and more experimental in a similar way to biology… (meanwhile fields like anthropology seem to still be primarily anecdote/observation-based)

    (Linguistics is part of biology anyway. Ok, I'll leave now >_> )


  7. Eli Morris-Heft said,

    July 24, 2009 @ 8:51 am


    The way I see it, we'd love to. Linguists already consider [most] linguistics a science, and a hard science at that. The problem is, most university faculty don't. They see words and not test tubes and were taught that linguistics is part of anthropology or that it's a subsection of sociology or that it's the province of philosophy.

    Once we change linguistics to being perceived as a science, perhaps we can cultivate some of the perceptions physics and chemistry have in spades – that is, the perception of lay people that the subject is too far beyond them to speculate on idly and then be utterly convinced one is correct.

  8. Jason I. said,

    July 24, 2009 @ 10:49 am

    Is there a word for names that match employment, i.e. David Talkin, the linguist?

  9. Jason I. said,

    July 24, 2009 @ 11:20 am

    For those who don't already know, the word is aptronym.

  10. dr pepper said,

    July 24, 2009 @ 3:39 pm

    All of the breakfast experiments should be dusted off and made into a column there.

  11. N said,

    July 24, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

    I'm massively excited. And I echo the sentiments above, linguistics needs experimentation, not anecdotes and introspection.

  12. James Wimberley said,

    July 25, 2009 @ 8:14 am

    ML: "So those of you who are here for the cartoons may want to move along.."
    Why shouldn't an academic journal have cartoons? Lewis Thomas used to write essays for the prestigious NEJM; sadly they seem to have dropped the slot.
    A personal classified section might be going a bit far. "Prescriptivist DWM seeks strict disciplinarian …"

  13. paca said,

    July 26, 2009 @ 7:51 am

    As a former managing editor of a journal, I wish you mighty good luck with the 4-6 weeks thing. That by itself will be the most impressive accomplishment of all. Teasing aside, I look forward very much to the journal.

  14. Leonardo Boiko said,

    July 27, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

    As a computer science undergrad, I just wanted to congratulate you on actually trying to bring this awesome idea into reality. It makes me feel deeply ashamed of comp-sci journals; they should be publishing code & data in this manner since forever.

  15. Xtofe said,

    July 27, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    Just to remind Leonardo that nothing "prevents" authors to provide their code and data over internet along with their published papers.
    Reproducible research is achieved first of all by the desire and responsibility of authors.
    JEL, however, is a very good initiative.

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