Uses of corpus linguistics in higher education research: An adjustable lens

Siân ALSOP, Virginia KING, Genie GIAIMO, Xiaoyu XU

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


In this chapter, we explore uses of corpus linguistics within higher education research. Corpus linguistic approaches enable examination of large bodies of language data based on computing power. These bodies of data, or corpora, facilitate investigation of the meaning of words in context. The semiautomated nature of such investigation helps researchers to identify and interpret language patterns that might otherwise be inaccessible through manual analysis. We illustrate potential uses of corpus linguistic approaches through four short case studies by higher education researchers, spanning educational contexts, disciplines and genres. These case studies are underpinned by discussion of the development of corpus linguistics as a field of investigation, including existing open corpora and corpus analysis tools. We give a flavour of how corpus linguistic techniques, in isolation or as part of a wider research approach, can be particularly helpful to higher education researchers who wish to investigate language data and its context. Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheory and method in higher education research
EditorsJeroen HUISMAN, Malcolm TIGHT
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
ISBN (Electronic)9781800433205, 9781800433229
ISBN (Print)9781800433212
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Alsop, S., King, V., Giaimo, G., & Xu, X. (2021). Uses of corpus linguistics in higher education research: An adjustable lens. In J. Huisman & M. Tight (Eds.), Theory and method in higher education research (Vol. 6, pp. 21-40). Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Corpus linguistics
  • Higher education
  • Research
  • Case studies
  • Discourse
  • Quantitative
  • Qualitative


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