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Dr Murakami, a Birmingham Fellow specialising in second language acquisition (SLA) and corpus linguistics, has received a Language Learning Early Career Research Grant for his project “Where have we been and where are we now? Topic modeling of research articles in second language acquisition”.

The project will employ a machine learning technique called the 'topic model' to quantitatively investigate research trends in SLA and their variability between countries and between publication venues.

It is important to understand variations in research topics in a scientific discipline across periods, countries or regions, and publication venues because it gives us a birds-eye view of progress in the field and its present state. Traditionally, historical accounts of SLA have generally been produced in the form of a narrative, typically done by senior researchers. 

This innovative project will enable a novel perspective on the history of SLA. Importantly, it will provide an empirical basis to review existing accounts of SLA. This allows historical accounts to become falsifiable and historical narratives to be critically examined.