Research and Development Unit in English Studies
Andrew Kehoe, Director, Research and Development Unit for English Studies
Matt Gee, Research Fellow in the School of English
Antoinette Renouf, Emeritus Professor of English Language and Linguistics
The Research and Development Unit for English Studies (RDUES) was established in 1989 and has carried out fundamental and applied research in corpus linguistics, developing new descriptions of the language in use and tools for the extraction and management of knowledge in databases. WebCorp and eMargin are two major projects by the internationally renowned RDUES.
The WebCorp suite of online linguistic search tools was initially released as a prototype in 2000 and has since developed into an important resource used by companies and educational institutions around the world. WebCorp uses conventional web search engines such as Google to show examples of a word or phrase in context.
The initial suite enabled the RDUES team to later develop an independent linguist's search engine called WebCorpLSE. WebCorpLSE features its own search engine backend and custom built corpora, enabling more advanced linguistic and statistical analyses to be performed. The technical knowledge gained during these projects enabled the development of eMargin - a web based system for the collaborative annotation of texts.
Application of research
WebCorp continues to be used by linguists as a source of data and analyses for research papers. In education, hands-on sessions using WebCorp have been introduced in linguistics syllabi at Toronto, Paris, Washington, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, and the Open University, amongst other institutions. WebCorpLSE has been used extensively in the academic community since it was introduced in 2010. A series of masterclasses using WebCorpLSE saw pre-University students explore the uses of corpus analysis.
The eMargin annotation tool has had a major impact in the teaching of English literature. It allows traditional activities such as close reading to happen online, opening up new possibilities for collaborative study. The flexibility of eMargin has led to it being used in many text-based disciplines, in teaching and research. Over 250 staff and students at over 50 institutions have registered to use the hosted version of eMargin, which is also freely available in source code form for local installation.
In terms of commercial uses, Andrew Kehoe and Matt Gee were employed by Grey London as consultants on the language used by young people in social media, to assist with Puma's Dance Dictionary Campaign.