The Oxford Text Archive in 2013

Originally posted at blogs.it.ox.ac.uk on January 3, 2013 by Martin Wynne. IT Services at the University of Oxford has decided to delete a large number of historical blogs, and this is one of a number of posts related to the Oxford Text Archive which are being re-published here, after being laboriously retrieved from the archive provided by the Wayback Machine.

The New Year promises to be an exciting one for the Oxford Text Archive. As well as new accessions to the archive, new services and new collaborations, we plan to integrate the archive further into the new research data management services at the University of Oxford. This will involve working more closely with the Bodleian Libraries, who are embarking on a number of ambitious projects to serve the requirements of researchers for working with digital data.

The last year has seen the biggest ever expansion in the archive, with the accession of more than 2,000 texts from the Eighteenth Century Collections Online text creation partnership. These are made available under Creative Commons licences, another new venture for the OTA, and we plan to release future accessions with the relevant CC licence. These texts, along with all other XML resources, are now made available in a variety of formats, including popular ebook formats, converted automatically by the Oxgarage web service. We are planning future releases of Early English Books Online (EEBO) texts as they come into the public domain.

The Oxford Text Archive has taken over the management and distribution of the British National Corpus. We are not able to give support for the Xaira software, which continues as an open source project, but we continue to distribute copies of the corpus. In 2013 we will open a consultation on how to open access to the corpus with the corpus linguistics community and other stakeholders. We aim to make more widely available a BNCWeb service hosted by the National e-Infrastructure Service with secure authentication for users in educational establishments. The excellent online services listed at http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/ continue to be available online.

The OTA also hopes that in 2013 we will be able to make more links with CLARIN infrastructure services and projects. OTA resources are already visible via the CLARIN Virtual Language Observatory, and we hope to participate in the federated content search demonstrator which is being built now. However, proper participation for service centres like the OTA, and for other institutions and individual researchers, does require that the UK funders and policymakers finally acknowledge the importance of the emerging European research infrastructure. Regretfully, attempts to engage research councils, JISC and the UK Access Management Federation in these processes continue to founder. Let’s hope for more progress in 2013, and that policy-makers start to act on their promises about building and promoting digital research infrastructure in the UK.


Author: Martin Wynne

Martin Wynne is a digital research specialist, corpus linguist and repository manager in the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics at the University of Oxford.

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