R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Linguagem

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Linguística da Universidade Nova de Lisboa [LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213] visitada em 12/11/2007

Classificação: Very Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
University and Faculty representatives were present in the beginning of the meeting with the evaluation panel and expressed the University’s commitment in promoting excellent research. As a whole, the Unit has not yet appreciable international visibility, at least in terms of publications in peer-reviewed international journals or citations, and it has lost an important link to the European network working with Medieval Unicode Font Initiative and the elaboration of a proposal for a Unicode medieval character set. Nevertheless, some of the groups are approaching a good level of internationalization and other groups demonstrate a clear potential of for producing important scientific contributions in the near future. Another positive aspect was that the Unit’s trainees were clearly committed and enthusiastic about their work.
The panel’s impression from its discussion with the group on psycholinguistics was very positive. The group is
interdisciplinary and is really going in the right direction. So far, it has few international publications but the group is young, has come far with relatively limited laboratory resources, is committed and aware of the relevant scientific methodology and has also the know-how and good international contacts necessary to become a forefront group in psycholinguistics. Although the group has not yet attained the level of visibility and production to reach excellence, it has the potential of reaching that level in the very near future.
The lexicology group is also deemed to be very important for the future of this type of research in Portugal. It has been the centre of education for researchers in lexicology and terminology who are now teaching at other
Portuguese universities, like the Universidade do Algarve. However, the international perspective is missing and the group lacks the technical know-how, which sharply contrasts with its solid competence in Terminology.
Provided that the group gets the necessary technical help they need (for example, being able to hire a computer engineer or engaging in cooperation with technically oriented groups), this lexicology group has the potential of making significant contributions at the national level and also at producing research of international importance.
The Grammar and Text group is a new and rather large group resulting from the fusion of several previous groups.
Grammaticalization is their unifying theme but the group’s goals are broad and generally defined which makes it fairly similar to what is found in other Units. The group does not have an international profile or publications in high impact journals. It has an ambitious program but their goals are generally formulated, which makes it difficult for the group to stand out in competition with relatively similar groups integrated in other Units. Also, the general description of group goals presented for Discourse Interaction is rather vague so far.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Comparative Linguistics [RG-LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213-710]
First of all I want to underline I found the ongoing and planned projects very ambitious. But I had trouble to see the relations, and connections, between different subjects and perspectives within the research group, cf. my Preliminary Evaluation. I couldn't see, when visiting the group, exactly how the researchers cooperated within seminars and colloquia, and how the interdisciplinary activities were carried out. One the other hand the ambitions to internationalize must be stressed, and the ambitious and well planned training programmes as well. It was interesting to listen to the students, and I felt they were satisfied with the training at the research unit.
The responsible researchers were broad-minded. They tried to encourage the younger researchers’ initiatives, in my opinion. The reorganization of the unit must be characterized as a very good initiative.
Discourse Interaction [RG-LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213-934]
The group can be seen as primarily a continuation of the former group "Semantics". It is relatively small but has rather ambitious and generally formulated goals, if they are taken at face value. However, in the discussion it was said that the goals would become more specific as the work in the group developed.
Grammar and Text [RG-LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213-714]
This is a fairly large group with ambitious goals. It remains to be seen if they will succeed in integrating the work of the different subgroups.
HISPAM - History of Old and Middle Portuguese – (“História do Português Antigo e Médio”) [RG-X-LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213-1707]
Lexicology, Lexicography and Terminology [RG-LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213-711]
This is a large group of researchers. More than 20 people (some of them are now working at the University of the Algarve).
They are very active in Terminology with a wide variety of domains (medicine, politics, media etc.) and some work on cross-language terminologies (PT-FR and PT-EN). They take a qualitative approach and focus on the methodology of building term bases. But they also demonstrated computer-based term collections. The group also supports innovative ideas such as the linking of terminology work with the annotation of dance videos.
The group has been very productive in terms student training and theses output: 5 PhDs and 10 MA theses in the reported time span. 4 of the 5 PhD theses are written in Portuguese, 1 is in English. Students should be encouraged to write PhD theses in English.
The group lists a number of software systems but these seem to be work-in-progress. The group really needs help to develop these tools and to teach the group's members to use them properly.
Members of the group are involved in organizing international networks and terminology conferences.
The group showed a great enthusiasm for working on terminologies. The group has the size required to make substantial contributions to terminology work in Portugal. The age structure is very broad (including a large number of young Masters and PhD students) which guarantees a good succession of activities in the future.
The group seems to have clear goals for the future, but I think they lack a computational perspective. They should be advised to collaborate with a Computer Science department. Or, even better, they should hire a computational linguist who specializes in terminology work to help them use better tools to create, store and present their terminologies. For example, they have distributed their terminologies mostly through CDs. They should move to web distribution soon. They should also use terminology extraction tools and terminology database systems.
Philology and Historical Linguistics [RG-X-LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213-1854]
Unfortunately, the research group "Philology and Historical Linguistics" doesn't exist anymore. The PI António Emiliano is obviously not member of Centro de Linguistica da Universidade Nova de Lisboa now, due to very special circumstances. Emiliano’s important contribution to the research unit was his contacts within a European network working with Medieval Unicode Font Initiative and the elaboration of a proposal for a Unicode medieval character set. I asked the group I visited if anybody else worked with these specialties more precisely, but didn't get any clear answer. It seemed to me as Emiliano himself had these contacts. It's a pity if the philological research at the unit has lost its contacts with a very important European network.
Pragmatics [RG-X-LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213-713]
Psycholinguistics and Clinical Linguistics [RG-LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213-712]
The research group on “Psycholinguistics and Clinical Linguistics” has objectives to describe language pathologies from an interdisciplinary perspective, and adapt diagnostic and evaluation task to European Portuguese (EP) taking the linguistic structure of EP into account. From 2003 to 2006, the group has focused on aphasia. From 2007 they began extending their work to specific language deficits with children and adolescents. They have also recently (2006) become involved in an international collaboration for early detection and intervention of Alzheimer’s dementia. Their work is based on solid methodological procedures and realistic aims. Their research, as well as related national and international conferences and workshops, is being carried out in collaboration with strong international partners from North America and around Europe.
This has been accomplished despite being a relatively new research group is with a minimal budget (annually ca 5000 Euros). In the last period, the group has nevertheless expanded from 1 core researcher to 3 core PhD researchers and 3 other PhD researchers, in addition to developing an active group of PhD and MA students with diverse backgrounds related to the field.
Their research has lead to 1 PhD dissertation and 1 MA thesis, both in Portuguese, 3 international book chapters and 7 national journal articles.
This stands out as a very good publication record given the number of researchers and the resources they have available. Their research related to Portuguese, as well as their broader research, has the high potential for important theoretical and practical implications through further international publications, a step which is especially feasible together with their international collaborators.
The group’s organization and leadership appears to be functioning well and to be stimulating for the group as a whole. It is especially promising that the group is attracting highly motivated, and apparently dedicated, students who are attuned to good experimental methodology and, along with core researchers, are participating in international collaborations.
Above, "Facilities", "Library", and "Secretarial support" were not evaluated for the research group. "Equipment", "Technical support" and "Funding" are rated as poor.
The group is currently dependent on borrowing equipment from their international collaborators. Their joint work would clearly be more effective if they had their own equipment regularly available. Of particular necessity are an eye tracking system (eye tracker and computer), technical assistance and student laboratory assistance. The technical assistant and laboratory assistant are needed to carry out practical laboratory work and make available time for PhD researchers to prepare their research for publication. Especially given the research group’s track record of productive use of resources, these investments are highly recommended.
Semantics [RG-X-LIN-LVT-Lisboa-3213-716]
The output of the group is not so impressive. There are no publications in peer-reviewed journals and only one in English (given as "in press").
Two of the three projects seem to have led to preliminary results so far. Five PhDs are listed but two of these were presented at universities abroad.

Comentários da unidade

CLUNL dropped from Excellent in 2003 to Good in 2007. No clear justification for this - on the basis of objective quantitative and qualitative criteria - is provided in the Panel’s Report. Between 2003 and 2007, CLUNL underwent a considerable growth according to all the evaluation criteria of FCT Funding Regulation, as shown below:
[A) Scientific production; B) Dissemination of the results; C) Organization and work environment; on the left, the values for 2000-2002/2003; on the right, for 2003-2006/2007]
Books 4 15
Ed. books 3 10
Chap. books 15 53
Intern. papers 23 107
National papers 25 93
Projects with auton. funding 0 8
Particip. intern. projects with auton. funding 1 3
Oral present. intern. meetings 19 90
Oral present. national meetings 26 43
Org. of intern. meetings 2 8
Org. of intern. meetings n.i. 27
MA diss 2 38
PhD diss 4 25
Post-docs 2 10
This growth is ignored in the report.
Qualitatively, the report contains a subjective evaluation and lacks consistency in the application of objective criteria to the evaluation of the different groups. Suspicions are cast on some groups’ accomplishments of goals without any justification. The Panel ignores:
- important research areas in the unit such as L1 and L2 Language Acquisition and Text Theory
- important internationalization results, such as peer-reviewed international publications
- participation in important European projects with multiple partners, international networks, and foreign labs and universities
- networks with Portuguese-speaking countries, essential for language policy
- improvement in working conditions.
The report reveals that the Panel has misunderstood the internal reorganization of CLUNL. No evaluation is provided for 2 groups, a group is wrongly affiliated, objectives of one project and one group are mixed up. Therefore, CLUNL will appeal from the classification and ask for a fair reassessment.