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Research Open Science Open Research Award

Digital language revitalisation tool: from the speakers to the broader community

Marcela Huilcán, PhD candidate, Arts/CLCG

Open Research objectives/practices

Two main open research objectives are addressed:

  • Publications and educational materials created from data collected during the research project are aimed to be freely accessible.
  • Two Advisory boards have been created to be part of the research project, a citizen science tool will be used and the outcome of the research is planned to be available to the broader community.


This project is based on collaborative work (and decolonising approaches) with Indigenous (Aboriginal) communities in Australia and Chile. The main objective of the project is to investigate the language attitudes and ideologies of Indigenous languages speakers in Australia and Chile towards the role of digital platforms in language revitalisation. The project entails the use of an online tool that runs as a ‘citizen science project’ that will collect Indigenous voices via recordings and/orntexts donated by the communities themselves. It is important to highlight thatneven though in the context of work with Indigenous communities open research can be extremely beneficial for them and the broader community, certain cultural protocols must be respected to ensure that this valuable knowledge is respectfully transmitted and taken care of. This is why this project works under the advice of two Indigenous Advisory boards and the web- based platform will be open only for the participants of the study, due to cultural and intellectual property concerns. However, the data collected will be transformed into educational materials and distributed in the participants’ communities which included the broader (non-indigenous) community as well. Additionally, the recordings will be donated to organisations in Australia and Chile to make freely use of these in the context of language revitalisation.

Alongside this practice, the outcomes of the research on language attitudes, through surveys and interviews among the participants, will be presented to the communities and given to them in plain language (non-academic) and it is expected to publish results in open access as well.


In this study there are many considerations to be done. Historically, Indigenous language speakers have had to face traumatic experiences that have caused, among others, the loss of their languages and cultures. These communities in Australia and Chile had to face colonisation and decades of underrepresentation and oppressive practices over them. Due to this dramatic impact, and the evolution of research, it has become a common practice in linguistic research on indigenous languages to work under collaborative approaches and ensure that the participants will benefits directly from this. In other words, to work WITH them as much as possible and not ABOUT them. In this context, collaborative work and open research emerge as a fundamental line of work to follow when the work’s ethics aims at social justice and scientific responsibility.

Lessons learned

A web-based platform based on a citizen science approach requires many considerations in terms of data protection and legal regulations. Making this openly available for everyone online was not possible due to legal regulations, however this was solved by limiting the access only to the participants. This can be seen as non-open practice, however, the data collected will be made available for the broader community after the study. Even though this was a challenge, at the same time it created the need to reflect on the protection of cultural knowledge and sensitivity of the participants.

A great supporting factor are the communities, represented by the Advisory boards. They are extremely interested in participating in the research project, in offering their guidance and in supporting this project that they see as beneficial for the revitalisation of their languages and the maintenance of their culture.

Last modified:16 March 2022 11.23 a.m.