Journals, Modern Languages

Introducing ‘Sociolinguistic Methodologies at a Crossroads: Innovations from the Postgraduate Community’: A Modern Languages Open Special Collection

This month sees the launch of a new special collection on Modern Languages Open that rethinks methodological approaches in sociolinguistics since Covid 19. The collection includes cutting-edge contributions from the postgraduate community that explore novel ways of applying research methods in a rapidly evolving research climate.

Here, the co-editors of the collection, Nicola Bermingham, Stefania Tufi, and Claire Nance explain the research context and thinking that informs this open access collection of articles.

Read ‘Sociolinguistic Methodologies at a Crossroads: Innovations from the Postgraduate Community‘ >

At this particular juncture in academic scholarship, prompted in part by the global Covid-19 pandemic, we are rethinking methodological approaches in sociolinguistics. This Special Collection, then, includes cutting-edge contributions from the postgraduate community that explore novel ways of applying research methods in a rapidly evolving research climate with the objective of bringing various groups into dialogue around ways in which scholars can become actively involved in advancing sociolinguistic methodologies. The collection opens the floor to new and interesting debates about innovative ways to address contemporary methodological research problems and questions.

This collaborative project includes five articles from postgraduate researchers at the University of Liverpool (Department of Languages, Cultures and Film) and Lancaster University (Department of Linguistics and English Language) from across sub-fields of sociolinguistics (minority languages, linguistic landscapes, ethnography, social media discourses, sociophonetics, sociolinguistics and forensic application). Postgraduate research students may be at the centre of this collection but the methodological challenges that they address in their articles are of key importance for the wider academic community in linguistics, modern languages, and cognate fields such as sociology, history and politics.

Capacity management sign at an independent shop April and July 2020.

We have brought together this special issue in order to highlight the work of postgraduate students in sociolinguistics. The collection of papers foregrounds the diverse and innovative methodological approaches employed by the future leaders of our field. We especially wanted to draw attention to the innovation and flexibility shown in the pandemic and post-pandemic years by early career researchers as they navigate new ways to approach research questions and draw on lessons learned.

Co-editors Nicola Bermingham, Stefania Tufi, Claire Nance.

The Special Collection is also intended to advance postgraduate careers in a meaningful way, allowing for dissemination and knowledge exchange, with a particular focus on methods, at a time during which such opportunities have been limited (or non-existent) for the postgraduate community post-2020. In addition, this collection will foster the acquisition of professional skills and the deployment of academic skills while maximizing dissemination of postgraduate students’ work as it unfolds and is integrated into individual projects. Both editors and contributors have benefited from close exchanges during the drafting of the articles and mutual learning was facilitated through refreshing interactions that reinvigorated inquisitive approaches towards established disciplines and the topics in hand and adopted a critical stance towards the nature of data and the way that it shapes, and is shaped by, our interpretation.

Supermarket sign with graffiti June 2020.

The choice of an open access platform such as Modern Languages Open was in keeping with the intention of encouraging wide dissemination of contributions from early career academics who are operating in a highly competitive environment that expects competent performances upon completion of an important milestone such as a PhD. While the Special Collection focuses on sociolinguistics (in its broadest sense), it paves the way for the potential for enhanced and participatory interdisciplinary discussions which will give participants the opportunity to make new connections which otherwise would not have been possible, exploiting cross-fertilization and enhancing opportunities for collaboration. The innovation represented by cutting-edge research is coupled with an emphasis on collaboration—a key desideratum and a necessity for far-reaching academic research.

While focusing on diverse research projects, this collection of articles brings to the fore key methodological issues encountered by the wider research community in the time of the pandemic and beyond, and thereby proposes novel approaches to the study of language that ultimately advance current debates about methodologies, inter- and multidisciplinarity, and collaborative research.

The collection is edited by:

Dr Nicola Bermingham (University of Liverpool)
Dr Stefania Tufi (University of Liverpool)
Dr Claire Nance (Lancaster University)

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