Changes to the distribution of the British National Corpus

Originally posted at blogs.it.ox.ac.uk on January 13, 2014 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.

In January 2014 there will be some changes in the way that the British National Corpus (BNC) is distributed.

It is now possible to download the British National Corpus at no cost from the Oxford Text Archive at the following URL:

http://www.ota.ox.ac.uk/desc/2554 [now http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12024/2554 – updated October 2020]

BNC Baby, a 4-million word sample of the BNC is also available:

http://www.ota.ox.ac.uk/desc/2553 [now http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12024/2553 – updated October 2020]

Click on the ‘apply for approval’ link to request a copy. The BNC continues to be subject to the same user licence conditions, which can be viewed at http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/docs/licence.html. If you have already paid for permission to use the BNC, you should consider that this continues to be valid in perpetuity.

There is an even simpler download option if you have a login ID from a UK or eduGAIN Shibboleth identity provider (usually, this applies to all members of UK universities, and many European institutions). You can follow the links at the locations above to download the corpus directly without applying for approval. We hope that this facility will soon be extended to users from other countries who participate in the CLARIN Federation.

It will remain possible to order the BNC on disks from the University of Oxford until the end of March 2014, with the current administrative charges still applying, from the following URL:

http://www.oxforduniversitystores.co.uk/browse/category.asp?compid=1&modid=1&catid=1049

As part of this process, I have to announce that the University of Oxford can no longer offer any support for the XAIRA software, which has for many years been made available with the corpus. We have tried to offer support on a ‘best efforts’ basis in recent years, but we do not have the resources or expertise to help with the installation or use of XAIRA on the latest hardware and software. Users of XAIRA are encouraged to visit http://xaira.sourceforge.net/ and check out the forums and mailing lists which you will find there. The future of XAIRA depends on a committed user community, so please get involved if you have questions or can contribute expertise.

There are excellent services offering instant online access to the BNC, such as those listed at http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/. I am convinced that there is still further potential for the integration and use of the corpus in online services and web applications. There are plans to integrate access to the BNC with the emerging CLARIN infrastructure, enabling a range of applications and web services to be used in conjunction with this and many other corpora. See https://www.clarin.eu/ for more details.

If you know of other ways of using the BNC, or have any more ideas about its future, I would welcome a discussion on this email list, or email me.

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.