❓ How do you cite fieldwork recordings?

Asking for a friend.

The friend is me.


I have a lot to say about this! I think fieldwork recordings and all primary data should be treated as important (if not as more important) than other secondary publications. So I cite my recordings just like any published material with the speakers last name, year, and line number in the recording that the example or information comes from. The recording is listed in the references in a usual way with a direct link to its archive. I dont like the obscure way recordings are usually cited, but this makes sense if speakers want to be anonymous.


Some guidance can also be found here: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/citing.html


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Andrea Berez and others have been working on this issue. Not sure who from that group is on here but there are a couple of published works from their joint work that you can consult (happy to point you to it if you need help finding it). Personally, I’ve done it one of two ways.

  1. In a book chapter on body parts currently under review, I wrote “(see Mendoza, Muñoz, Tamaya Marquez and Rosés Labrada 2017)” in the text explaining that most of the lexical data came from this and then in the references, I created a full citation for the recording but put it under the main references as “Data” like this:

Mendoza, Emilia (participant), Joselia Muñoz (participant), Hotimio Tamaya Marquez (participant), and Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada (researcher). 2017. Elicitation of body part terms based on Enfield (2006) (wav, Babel051). London, UK: SOAS, Endangered Languages Archive. URL: https://elar.soas.ac.uk/Collection/MPI1035095. Accessed on March 1, 2019.”

Other examples I cited in text with the recording name and the intonation unit number but I didn’t cite every single one in the references.

  1. In my IJAL article from 2019 where I was using somebody else’s archived audio in AILLA, I included the reference in the main list of references and cited it in text as “Mattéi-Müller et al. (1990)”:

“MATTÉI-MÜLLER, MARIE-CLAUDE (RESEARCHER), MARCO HO (SPEAKER, CONSULTANT), AND SAMUEL HO (SPEAKER, CONSULTANT). 1990. 1990 Words and phrases. Venezuelan languages collection. The Archive of the Languages of Latin America: YAU001R001 (audio and transcription). www.ailla.utexas.org.”


I’ve been working with Andrea and the rest of the Linguistic Data Interest Group at the RDA on creating support for this! It’s always great to see people thinking about this early on in their documentation work.

The Tromsø Recommendations for Citation of Research Data in Linguistics provide a detailed guide on how to cite any kind of linguistic data: https://www.rd-alliance.org/group/linguistics-data-ig/outcomes/tromsø-recommendations-citation-research-data-linguistics

For a more docling take on things, we wrote a paper in LD&C about citation practice in descriptive grammars (tl;dr there’s some people doing good stuff, but a long way to go): https://www.superlinguo.com/post/161559178593/putting-practice-into-words-new-paper-out-about

And if you want to help shape the future of data citation in linguistics, you can join the LDIG! We’re currently working on getting uptake for the Tromsø recommendations, especially in publishing so that data is treated the same as any other cited resource: https://www.rd-alliance.org/groups/linguistics-data-interest-group


Holy cow, what a trove of useful information. Thank you all!

(I wonder what it would take to figure out how to get some of these bibliographic formats from the Tromsø Recommendations into tools like Zotero, because I’m lazy because it will help increase uptake throughout the field.)