R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Linguagem

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Linguística da Universidade do Porto [LIN-Norte-Porto-22] visitada em 15/11/2007

Classificação: Very Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
The Dean of the Faculty of Humanities showed up at CLUP to demonstrate the Faculty’s interest in the future of this Unit.
CLUP has in reality only one room – the library – that offers rather rudimentary work conditions. This space is
also used for the Unit’s seminars and meetings, conflicting with the use of the room as a work space for other
CLUP researchers. In addition, this Unit reported the highest teaching load among all the Units under evaluation (10 to 19 hours/week whereas other Units report 10 to 12 hours/week) among all the Units under evaluation. As a consequence it appears that the researchers from this Unit actually spend most of their research time at the Faculty building rather than at CLUP.
The Unit’s former research groups have recently been reorganized and integrated into a single research group in order to achieve a clearer scientific profile and better administrative efficiency. Although it still is too early to assess the result of this reorganization, it may be expected to promote a desirable deeper scientific exchange between the researchers of this Unit.
CLUP has also recently initiated the publication of “Linguistica”, which has the ambition of becoming a recognized international peer-reviewed journal of linguistics. This and the Unit’s effort to establish up-to-date
web-pages are good initiatives to enhance CLUP’s international visibility. The journal, in particular, may indeed attain its goals, provided an international peer-review system can be fully implemented and maintained by the organizers. To achieve this important goal, the Unit needs to implement adequate infrastructures that might encourage frequent and fruitful interaction between its researchers. The lack of office space is a serious problem for this Unit and is likely to have a negative impact on its capacity to maintain fruitful contacts with researchers from the international scientific community that start being attracted by the quality of the work produced by CLUP. Surprisingly, in spite of the adverse infrastructural conditions, some of the Unit’s former research groups have been able to produce significant work. Among the lines of research pursued by CLUP, the panel found particularly good work on computational linguistics and syntax. The computational linguistics group has good publications, good computational knowledge and appears to have been reorganized into a strong team. In the area of syntax, there is a strong traditional grammar group that is carrying out solid phonology work and expanding their research activities to also include other languages, like African languages – a development that should be encouraged not only within CLUP but also in general for whole area of Portuguese research in Linguistics.
CLUP has recently engaged in networking with relevant national and international research partners, an engagement that is also likely to increase the Unit’s national and international visibility, but its problem with the lack of adequate office and meeting space must be solved. The researchers at CLUP appear to be working under rather adverse conditions and are often forced to work outside the Unit because everybody shares essentially the same room that also happens to be the Unit’s library. In addition to having a negative impact on the Unit’s ability to promote interaction between its researchers and causing difficulties in attracting foreign researchers to the Unit, this situation is also unfair in relation to the quality of the work produced by CLUP and should be corrected.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Clipten - Corpus Linguistics in Portuguese and English [RG-X-LIN-Norte-Porto-22-1596]
This group takes a refreshingly engineering approach to compiling linguistic resources for Portuguese. And they make them accessible via the Linguateca web site. There is a good level of know-how of current computational linguistics methods and tools.
This group is basically a one-woman-show (Belinda Maia), although there are 2 non-PhD researchers listed in the group report. Belinda Maia has been very active in contributing to the Linguateca web site (with Corpógrafo - a suite for the compilation and analysis of corpora; METRA for collaborative MT evaluation; Repention – a Named-Entity recognition system). Given the small group and the limited funding there are many international publications (incl. 2 Corpus Linguistics, 4 LREC papers). There is a clear international focus in the publications and also in the cooperation with respect to the Linguateca web site.
This group has now merged into the new overall research group. I see this as a positive development and expect clear synergies from this cooperation.
The activities of the PhD students sound very promising: Forensic linguistics (Plagiarism detection), Multimodal interaction (incl. corpus annotation), and Translation theory (e.g. PT-DE law texts).
This research unit as a whole lacks office space.
The department complained about a lack of Secretarial Support.
Comporger - Portuguese in contrast with German [RG-X-LIN-Norte-Porto-22-1592]
The group has investigated a variety of different texts: Medieval non-literary texts, Slogans and advertising, the specific language of the textile industry, Texts from public finance, and a Max Weber essay. They list a lot of publications given the small size of the group and the limited funding which they have received. It was surprising that none of these publications is accessible through the internet.
The group also lists 1 MA thesis and 1 PhD thesis (by one of the main researchers).
The group is involved in internationalization efforts (EU New Curriculum Development).
This group has now merged into the new overall research group and promises to adapt and coordinate its research in particular with the group that works on Corpus Linguistics. I see this as a positive development and expect clear synergies from this cooperation.
This research unit as a whole lacks office space.
The department complained about a lack of Secretarial Support.
DisSema - Semantic Questions and Dynamic Perspective of Discourse [RG-X-LIN-Norte-Porto-22-1595]
The group is quite small, but it has been productive with quite a few peer-reviewed and/or English-language publications. There has been one PhD and one Masters thesis.
This group works in four different areas big enough to host corresponding four research projects.
I have understood that such a broad set of interests has been organized to accommodate researchers in a moment of transition in the Oporto U history - a problem other Portugal universities went through as well.
Answers to questions related to the teaching and researching activities certainly recommended the strategy of putting together such a big amount of areas. It is expected that a new arrangement will come when present problems were solved.
Looking separately to each one of this group components show a smart choice of central themes to each one of them. It is easy noticing, for instance, that grammatical and semantic themes exemplify areas of interface research such as clause combining structures put together with rhetorical relations in complex sentences.
CLUP activities suffer from facilities and organizational problems clearly shown during the visit.
Hipologram - History of Portuguese language and the Portuguese grammatical tradition [RG-X-LIN-Norte-Porto-22-1594]
As to CLUP activities as a whole please see evaluation of INTERAPLE.
This group lost its former coordinator, which retired apparently due to instructions received from the government. Following this Rogelio Ponce de Leon assumed the coordination. One researcher got her PhD.
This group clearly prepares itself to operate in other environment, which makes it difficult to presently evaluate them. Criteria taken here are based on their productivity during the evaluation period.
Interaple - Interagir em Português Língua Estrangeira [RG-X-LIN-Norte-Porto-22-1597]
This group disappeared shortly after loosing 1 PhD + 2 collaborators apparently due to Bologna treaty consequences. CLUP as a whole takes from 9 to 17 teaching weekly hours, leaving 20% of time to do research.
Even so researchers look like to be optimist toward the future, based on connecting the group to a network formed by CLUP - ONSET CEL - CELGA.
Lexidis - The lexicon in text/discourse [RG-X-LIN-Norte-Porto-22-1593]
Syndepo - Syntactic description of Portuguese in a comparative perspective [RG-X-LIN-Norte-Porto-22-1581]
The group has been quite productive; there are a few peer-reviewed publications and a few publications in English. Two PhD dissertations can be noted. The group leader should be commended for showing interest also in African and Creole languages.
Texdisc - Language, Text and Discourse: Descriptive and Applied Linguistics [RG-X-LIN-Norte-Porto-22-1580]
This is a very small group. The members have been productive but there is very little in any other language than Portuguese and nothing in English. It is questionable if the publications subsumed under "Peer-reviewed journals" really deserve that characterization. There has been a single PhD dissertation but that is perhaps explainable given the size of the group.

Comentários da unidade

The evaluators understood and recognized two difficult circumstances under which the team members develop their research: high teaching loads and “rudimentary work conditions” as far as office space is concerned. This aspect of the evaluators’ report is viewed as a positive aspect of their assessment of CLUP, as well as the overall evaluation of the scientific work carried out by the unit.

However, it is with concern and disappointment that we notice that some very important aspects of the internal distribution of the scientific work carried out by the several groups of the unit were not thoroughly assessed by the evaluators, as far as it is reflected by the panel’s final report. This is the case, very particularly, of the comments that were made regarding the Semantics group. In the evaluators’ words, this group seems to be a rather small, ‘low-profile’ group (though it is recognized that “it has been productive with quite a few peer-reviewed and/or English-language publications”). As a matter of fact, this impression clearly contrasts with the general public recognition associated with this group, a team which integrates junior and senior linguists who do work as a true scientific group. Their work is widely known and appreciated by researchers from other Portuguese and foreign units and many of their members are currently involved in several external research programmes. As it was said before, we regret that this kind of results were not sufficiently taken into consideration or explicitly recognized by the evaluators’ report.

This summary statement is a first response to the panel’s report, which will be submitted to a more intensive debate among all the team members so that a more developed position will be announced very soon.