New Lancaster-Sydney research partnership to focus on obesity project


The University of Sydney, Australia
The University of Sydney, Australia

Lancaster University and the University of Sydney, Australia have signed an agreement to work together on a corpus linguistics research project focusing on obesity.

This new partnership builds on existing connections between the newly established Sydney Corpus Lab at the University of Sydney and the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS), founded in 2013 at Lancaster University.

Last year, a CASS contingent attended the launch of the Sydney Corpus Lab in March 2019, and, in June 2019, Associate Professor Monika Bednarek, from Sydney, was a Visiting Researcher at CASS.

During her visit, plans were made for a new collaboration on representations of obesity in the Australian Press.

Now a Memorandum of Understanding will formalise the collaboration and strengthen existing research links.

In the immediate future, CASS will build a corpus of Australian news items about obesity, and will advise on the analysis, based on a current project on representations of obesity in the UK Press.The Sydney Corpus Lab will analyse the Australian corpus, with the help of a new postgraduate research scholarship funded by the Charles Perkins Centre and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney.

The project will explore:

·        Existing media guidelines around the reporting of obesity

·        The use of the words obesity and obese in the Australian news media

·        The impact of the Obesity Collective’s campaign to shift the narrative away from stigma and blame

·        How obesity is represented more generally in the Australian news media, over time and across newspapers

Researchers from the Sydney Corpus Lab and CASS will collaborate on the dissemination of findings, including engagement with research users.They will work with the Obesity Collective and health journalism expert and educator Dr Catriona Bonfiglioli (University of Technology, Sydney) to help steer the analytical focus and for successful impact outside academia.The MOU also includes mutual visits and CASS Senior Research Associate Gavin Brookes is already planning to visit Sydney in July 2020, for research meetings and to present a talk at the Corpus Linguistics Down Under symposium.

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