6 February 2018 11:10

The Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) at Lancaster University will receive £2.5 million funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the University to continue existing activities and pursue a new research programme for five more years.

Researchers at the Centre have provided valuable insights into the understanding of language by using computers to analyse billions of words - in writing, speech and online.

The funding, which includes £750,000 from the ESRC, will be used to maximise the economic and societal impact of the research carried out in the first phase of the Centre, particularly in the areas of: Corporate Communications; Climate Change and Maritime Security; Language Development, Disorders and Environment; and Spoken Learner Language.

It will also be used to extend the facilitative and transformative power of corpus methods to urgently needed research into health (care) communication, in the following areas:

  • Language and mental health (including: communication about anxiety disorder; presentation and diagnosis of psychosis; depression in users of social media);
  • Communicating and diagnosing chronic pain;
  • Media representations of obesity;
  • English language assessment and training for medical professionals.

It will also create new openly accessible corpora, continue the existing programme of methodological and technological innovation, especially through #LancsBox and CQPWeb and continue to disseminate methods and tools through the Corpus MOOC, Summer Schools and free workshops in the UK and internationally.

The new CASS team brings together 15 scholars from different disciplines at Lancaster University and two collaborating institutions: Durham University and University College London.

Two postdoctoral Research Associates will also be recruited to work with the rest of the team for the next five years.

CASS Director Professor Elena Semino said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded five more years of funding by the ESRC and grateful to the University for its part in supporting the Centre.

“This award will ensure that the work we have done so far achieves its full potential in terms of societal impact, and will enable us to carry out new research on communication about illness and healthcare.”

CASS is one of eight established research centres awarded a total of £6.9m to continue their work under a new funding model designed to secure the long term sustainability of social science research excellence in the UK.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, the ESRC’s Chief Executive and Executive Chair Designate, said: “We are delighted that these eight centres have secured the backing of their research organisations for co-funding with the ESRC. This will sustain them over a longer period, and help set them on a path to continue beyond their ESRC centres’ funding.

“This model for funding social science research centres in the UK also establishes a new relationship between the ESRC and research organisations. It recognises the strategic and financial benefits brought by these centres of excellence and their potential for making a contribution nationally and internationally.”

The new centres’ transition funding policy marks a step-change in the way the ESRC supports its centres. It follows a review into how the ESRC could continue to foster and sustain the excellence and impact of its centres over the long term, without reducing investment elsewhere.

Further information is available in the Transition Review Application Guidance and Centres Transition Funding FAQs (both available at http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding/guidance-for-large- investments/esrc-centres-and-institutes/).