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ParlaCLARIN II Goes Virtual

The virtual edition of the second ParlaCLARIN workshop on creating, using and linking parliamentary corpora with other types of political discourse, was held online on May 11 due to the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic. The workshop was originally supposed to take place at the LREC2020 conference in Marseille, France, as a follow up of the first edition of the workshop organised at LREC2018 in Miyazaki, Japan. 

Virtual event format

While the proceedings were published as planned, virtualizing the event required a different format. Instead of a full-day event with classical presentations of the accepted papers, the online workshop was shortened to two hours and took the form of a discussion panel that started with a keynote talk by Bernhard Weßels and Pola Lehmann from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center on the Manifesto project, and was followed by three thematic sessions that were moderated by area experts. The moderators opened the session with observations on the papers, and then opened the discussion with a set of questions to all the authors of the papers in this session. The authors received these questions in advance and prepared their 5-minute responses with a limited number of illustration slides (no more than three each). Each session was concluded with a brief Q&A with the audience. 

Lessons learned

Holding a workshop online has pros and cons. The two hours format was well received and considered well-balanced by the majority of the participants, who also reported that inviting the moderators of the different sessions and the alternation between different speakers for introduction and conclusions was a very efficient way to make the workshop more lively and enjoyable. What certainly is more difficult to achieve in the virtual format is the interaction between the participants, an insight that was confirmed by some of the participants’ feedback, who asked for even more space for an open discussion. An idea could be to organise separate breakout sessions following the plenary programme where the participants could interact on specific topics at more depth and do virtual networking. As the workshop is based on peer-reviewed papers, it is important to share the proceedings in advance with the audience registered for the workshop. The audience would also benefit from a separate slot with short presentations of the accepted papers or a set of slides provided in advance in order to be better able to follow the discussion at the workshop.

A very positive outcome of holding the workshop in the virtual format is that it facilitated participation of a wider audience than would have been possible with a physical event; with 60 participants from 20 different European and non-European countries, the workshop was certainly very successful in this respect. What is more, for those who could not attend the workshop, we made  the recordings available on the CLARIN YouTube channel, divided per thematic sessions, and on the workshop homepage we added links to the proceedings, the Twitter event as well as additional information and initiatives related to the topic of parliamentary corpora. 

Links to relevant materials and initiatives

ParlaCLARIN II materials 

CLARIN initiatives related to parliamentary corpora

  • We promote research and development of parliamentary resources, tools and training materials. Read more  
  • We welcome submissions for the Bazaar, Student Session, Teacher Session and Researcher Clinic at the CLARIN Annual conference
  • We welcome submissions for the TwinTalks 3 workshop

Training materials on parliamentary corpus research