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RAMP, a new resource for archiving language and culture research

RAMP provides a user-friendly way for field researchers to share important metadata.

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(December 2011) An innovative response to the problem of collecting research data was recently presented at the Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory Biennial Conference (LDLT3), held 18-20 November at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Jeremy Nordmoe, Director of the SIL International Language and Culture Archives, introduced the Resource and Metadata Packager (RAMP), an application that simplifies the process of submitting materials to an archive. Nordmoe’s presentation was part of the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) Workshop on Language Documentation and Archiving, which took place on the first day of the conference.

When a researcher sends materials to a repository such as SIL’s Language and Culture Archives, each submission must include identifying information (metadata) such as:

While this information is vital for organizing an archive, past methods for communicating it proved cumbersome, even impossible in some situations. In the abstract for his presentation, Nordmoe explains,

Without adequate metadata, the potential users of language resources will never discover that they exist or learn that they are relevant to their purposes. In order to ensure that important metadata information is not forgotten, it is ideal that the capture of metadata should happen as close as possible to the gathering of the resource itself. When the data gathering happens in remote field locations, there may be a long gap in time between data gathering and the ultimate organization of material for submission to an archive.

RAMP bridges this gap by providing a user-friendly way for field researchers to enter data, even without internet access.

In the past, researchers were asked to fill out a one-size-fits-all form when submitting materials to the SIL Language and Culture Archives. The generalized nature of the form meant that researchers were often confronted with questions that were irrelevant for that particular submission. Also, this process required a strong internet connection, when internet access in many field situations is weak or intermittent, at best.

RAMP’s intelligent interface streamlines the process of entering metadata by requesting only the type of information that is relevant for the particular type of content being submitted. Field researches will appreciate the fact that the entire data entry process takes place offline – metadata can be entered at the time the research is conducted and the entire submission can be uploaded at a later date when an internet connection is available.

For questions or comments about RAMP, write to .

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