SFC Saltire Emerging Researcher SER Programme
Targeted placement opportunity
EU Host HEI: University of Ghent, Belgium
Host: Robert Hartsuiker
Scottish partner: Professor Martin Corley, University of Edinburgh
Placement title: Psycholinguistics for polyglots: Language cognition in speakers of multiple languages
Type of placement: Hybrid
Proposed placement dates: 1 August 2022 – 31 December 2022
The placement has three objectives.
Scientifically, it will broaden our understanding of human communication by focusing on speakers of more than one language.
The second objective is to broaden the skillset of of the holder, offering experience in the conceptualisation and execution of research, and introducing them to techniques (such as eyetracking or EEG) that they may not have used before.
Third, we expect this placement to act as a foundation for further collaboration between Ghent and Edinburgh, focused on multilingualism.
To achieve these objectives, the holder will contribute to the design, implementation, execution and analysis of an experiment designed to investigate how being a polyglot affects either the production or perception of spoken language (for example, whether speakers of a second language are more likely to produce errors involving elements that are not distinct in their first language, or whether listeners in a second language are sensitive to the cues that indicate a speaker is likely being deceptive). There is scope for several different studies, mapping to the holder’s specific language research interests. Professors Hartsuiker and Corley will provide guidance, training, and supervision, and will remain in contact throughout to plan the placement studies and begin to plan future collaborations.
The placement will last five months. The first and final months will be online; for months two through four, the holder will be in Ghent. An approximate timetable of activities, indicating their mapping to the objectives of the Saltire programme, is given below.
Initial planning and design of experiment (remote activity) in consultation with Profs Hartsuiker and Corley.
Develop capacity to apply for funding
Refinement of design; implementation and testing
Sharing of research methods, data, approaches
Participant recruitment and testing (because we aim to recruit multilingual participants, this will involve public engagement)
Engaging with the wider population
End of testing; data analysis
Sharing of research methods, data, approaches
Writeup and dissemination; Future plans
Fostering long-term relationships
The focus on multilingualism in this project requires the recruitment of participants from Ghent’s wider community. As part of the recruitment effort the holder will take part in ongoing public engagement concerning multilingualism and its importance to research. We are planning for details of the experiment and its findings (including data) to be publicly available via and for a resultant journal article to be published in an open-access journal.
Professional Development Opportunities and Benefits to the researcher
Researchers at Ghent routinely have access to courses on research methods, computational modeling, psycholinguistics, and advanced statistics. The holder will take part in Hartsuiker’s weekly lab meetings and will work (to the extent health measures allow) in the Hartsuiker lab’s landscape office, thereby gaining experience with working in a team. By association with Edinburgh the holder will also have access to dedicated statistics support, and to relevant seminars such as the Psycholinguistics Coffee, which is currently held online.
Professors Hartsuiker and Corley will also offer mentorship throughout the placement.
The holder will be working in an academic environment, gaining advanced research skills (both research management, and technical skills). We expect the project to result in a journal article which will be first-authored by the holder, with mentorship and support. Because of the project’s focus on multilingualism, there will also be opportunities for outreach to members of the public.
About the host
- Distinguishes itself as a socially committed and pluralistic university that is open to all students, regardless of their ideological, political, cultural or social background;
- Defines itself in a broad international perspective, all the while accentuating its individuality in terms of language and culture;
- Aims to encourage its students to adopt a critical approach within a creative, development-oriented educational and research environment;
- Offers a broad spectrum of high-quality research-based educational programmes that are constantly being adapted to the most recent scholarly and scientific developments;
- Aims to develop in a selective manner the advanced degree programmes, as well as postgraduate and permanent education;
- Aims to situate its educational and research activities within the broader social context and to remain in continual dialogue with all parties concerned;
- Aims to promote and further develop fundamental independent research in all faculties and to be a world player in the selected fields of endeavour;
- Aims to be an enterprising university with a focus on the social and economic applications of its research findings;
- Attaches particular importance to the social facilities made available for students;
- Creates a stimulating environment for its staff and provides them with the fullest scope of opportunities for developing their potential;
- Attaches particular importance to the participation of students, staff and social representatives in the formulation of policy;
- Desires strong interaction with its alumni;
- Opts for a decentralised, dynamic organisation model.
The placement holder will have full access to student support services at the University of Ghent, and support from other lab members in the department.