Find out more about our PhD students and how they are utilising the labs and equipment for their research experiments below.
I am now in my third year and have a major eye-tracking study wrapped up and a second on the go. Using the data I gained from eye-tracking so far has given me wonderful insights into how the reading process really works, how people differ yet also how some things are the same. My first major experiment investigated reader understanding in the face of contradictory sentences embedded in stories, based on their reading patterns and follow-up questions of how readers felt about this. It has allowed me to test the limits of how much a text can be manipulated and made difficult and still be readable, and where that subtle line is beyond which we just can’t quite accept what we are reading. To my surprise, that line is seemingly quite hard to reach. Next up, I hope to tackle genre, and all those wonderful tropes that let us instantly know if we’re reading an innovative sci-fi or maybe a classic romance. Do they make things easier or tougher for us? Eye-tracking will help me find out.
Its ability to capture on-line language comprehension through naturalistic reading, makes it the perfect tool to gather data on idiomatic language processing. As a matter of fact, previous eye-tracking studies, have already contributed significant findings to the field. For example, it has been found that idioms exhibit shorter reading times and attract fewer fixations (i.e. gazes) and re-fixations than control phrases. This has shown that not only idioms are processed faster than literal phrases, but that they also require less rereading and hence less re-analysis. Along these lines, I intend to compare eye-tracking measures, such as reading times, for modified idioms (e.g. spill the spicy beans) versus control phrases (e.g. cook the spicy beans). If reading times are found to be consistently shorter for idioms, then this would suggest that the processing advantage of idioms remains intact, despite the addition of the adjectives. Furthermore, this would imply that the idiomatic meaning was not lost. If, on the other hand, reading times for idioms are found to be significantly longer than controls, then this would suggest that the idiomatic meaning suffered due to the manipulation – although this would not necessarily exclude idiomatic consideration altogether.
I’m an Applied Linguistics PhD student. I began my career as a solicitor and later taught law whilst completing my MA part-time by distance learning at Nottingham. My PhD studies explore language in a political institution. As part of my School of English Research Scholarship I work in the Linguistic Profiling for Professionals team.
My research examines how speakers negotiate institutional and socio-cultural rules in House of Lords debates and how their linguistic performance is evaluated by others. I’m interweaving several analytical approaches to explore the relationship between rule-behaviour and linguistic construction of identities, particularly the intersections between gender, age and class. The aim is to identify practices which restrict egalitarian participation in politics with a view to informing debate about House of Lords reform.
I’m a third year PhD student in the School of English. I previously completed an MA in Literary Linguistics at the University of Nottingham. My research investigates the mechanisms behind reading, in particular the processes required to understand ‘difficult’ literature.
In order to understand how readers process difficult literary texts, I examined Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dallo-way and To the Lighthouse as a case study. I surveyed actual readers to understand whether the assumption that Woolf’s writing is difficult. After establishing that this is true for most readers, I am currently investigating what underpins the difficulty, which, I assume, derives from her use of free indirect style. I am using eye tracking to observe how readers deal with her texts, and am looking at whether eye movements pinpoint where difficulty arises.
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