I'm looking for good recent books or articles on experimental methodology in syntax or semantics. Ideally they'd be geared towards working formal linguists who don't know much about psycholinguistics or experiment design.

The biggest question I'd like to see addressed is "What experimental methods are appropriate for answering X?" where X might be a research question about word meaning or syntactic structure or whatever.

I'm familiar with Baayen's book on stats for linguists — and it's fantastic, but it's mostly focused on how to analyze the data that comes out of an experiment rather than on how to set up the experiment itself, so it's not quite what I'm looking for.

  • 1
    Are you asking for a textbook on psycholinguistics? All the experimental methods I know come under the purview of psycholinguistics. And many pure-linguists learn the methods and pursue it themselves. There are work-shops too on this: e.g., sheffield.ac.uk/russian/research/masterclass/programme.html
    – prash
    Oct 15, 2011 at 21:52
  • Hmm. My impression is that a lot of psycholinguists are interested in different questions than formal linguists: e.g. not particularly interested in grammaticality judgments or truth conditions. So ideally I'd like something written with formal linguists in mind. But maybe such a book doesn't exist? Oct 15, 2011 at 22:49
  • ...though after following the link, it looks like that Sheffield workshop would have been exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for (including for instance some stuff on 'acceptability judgments' and 'truth value judgments'). So yes, if you could recommend a psycholinguistic textbook covering a similar area, that would be useful. Oct 15, 2011 at 22:55

2 Answers 2


I think that the first thing you'd need to do is actually pose your question - as there are so many different possibilities as to what can be done with elicitation these days. As a general rule any elicitation must involve non-linguist stimulus, such as a video, to prevent the results being tainted by translation. The best place to look for what is often looked at to be the state of the art is The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegan - projects like the "put project" and the spatial relations projects are classics in the field.

Another vanguard approach is to use non-linguistic evidence of linguistic structures. Gesture is often a popular secondary evidence of the cognitive salience of a syntactic or semantic property. Start with Susan Goldin-Meadow.


I don't know enough to recommend textbooks on psycholinguistics, but how about this course page: http://www.coli.uni-saarland.de/courses/experimental_psycholinguistics_2011/schedule.php?

I saw Otavio's comment only today. Here is the course description:

The current course will give an overview of experimental methods in psycholinguistics including the following areas: Description of different state-of-the-art methods, various experimental designs, analyses tools and evaluation of findings. Students will gather hands-on experience of all stages of experimental research by designing and running experiments themselves, learning basics of the statistical software R in order to conduct statistical modeling of the results as well as learning to present the results in the standard format of the experimental research reports.

Evaluation based on experimental work, active participation in lectures and the final research report.

  • Could you provide additional information? An overview of the course or some background information would be nice. Nov 3, 2011 at 12:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.