About IRIS


IRIS is a free, searchable, up- and downloadable collection of datasets and instruments, materials, and stimuli that are used to elicit data for research into first, second, and foreign languages. This includes research into the effectiveness of different types of experimental treatments and instructional techniques; linguistic development and how languages are processed and learnt; the contexts in which first and second languages are used and learnt; and stakeholders' (learners', teachers', policy-makers') opinions about language use and how these impact teaching and learning. IRIS now also hosts postprints of publications in the language sciences.

Who are we?

Emma Marsden Luke Plonsky Cylcia Bolibaugh Junlan Pan
Emma Marsden
IRIS Project Director
Luke Plonsky
IRIS Project Director
Cylcia Bolibaugh
IRIS Project Director
Junlan Pan
IRIS Project Assistant

Former Project Assistants

  • Julia Key (2011-2013)
  • David O’Reilly (2013-2015)
  • Elizabeth Bailey (2014-2017)
  • Sophie Thompson-Lee (2015-2019)
  • Justyna MacKiewicz (2019-2020)
  • Junlan Pan (2020-2024)

What is IRIS?

Instruments and data for research in language studies:

  • A sustainable, central digital repository
  • Up- and downloadable; freely accessible
  • Searchable across a wide range of parameters, e.g. instrument type; research area; participant characteristics (incl. teachers, learners, trainees); L1; L2; language feature(s); proficiency
  • Independent: Cross-institution, -country, -journal, -publisher, -funder
  • Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Academy as one of its prestigious 'Academy Research Projects'
  • Using the infrastructure of the University of York's Digital Library


The scope of IRIS is as wide as the language sciences, including

  • Language development (typical and atypical, mono-, bi- and multi-lingual, signed and spoken)
  • Language use (including intercultural communication and language for special purposes)
  • Language learning and loss (first, additional, artificial)
  • Language processing and psycholinguistics
  • Language perception and identity
  • Phonology
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Pragmatics
  • Language teaching
  • Language assessment
  • Education & policy
  • ... in diverse contexts
  • ... with diverse research aims
  • ... with diverse types of data

Rationale behind IRIS

The nature of instruments is a source of lively debate, e.g.

  • How to measure implicit vs. explicit knowledge?
  • How to elicit the construct of autonomy in language learning?
  • How to measure working memory?
  • How do contextual characteristics determine the usefulness of a particular instrument? E.g. eliciting teacher cognition amongst 'native' and 'non-native' teachers
  • How to elicit L2 processing vs. L2 competence?


  • Researchers create and keep their own instruments
  • Maintenance and access to the instruments is ad hoc
  • Usually only brief descriptions with occasional short samples are available in published work
  • Contrast between: Complete data collection instruments vs. samples in appendix


  • Improves transparency
  • Increases availability of methods
  • Enhances research agendas across time and space
  • Facilitates replication, systematic reviews, meta-analyses

IRIS also facilitates evaluation and quality assurance, via:

  • Feedback and updates given on site by contributors and users
  • Wider usage of instruments
  • Full transparency


Online submission is available: Submit to IRIS

Criteria for upload:

  • Instruments / materials / datasets must have been used to support a published (or 'in press') and peer-reviewed:
    • Journal article
    • Book/chapter
    • Conference proceedings
    • Approved PhD thesis

The IRIS team will, free of charge, digitise material that will be submitted to IRIS. This includes paper-based and audio-visual material. Please contact IRIS by email to make arrangements, OR post your materials, including your postal and email contact details, to the IRIS address. We will return all materials to you and send you the digitised materials.

Feedback features and quality assurance

  • Users can upload information about:
    • their use of an instrument
    • generalisability
    • any problems encountered
    • updated reliability stats
    • new contextual information
  • Uploaders are encouraged to allow visible on-line comments - default option
    • Or can request feedback to be sent personally to them
    • Or refuse feedback
  • Uploader is informed when their instrument has been downloaded (Citations; Impact)
  • Downloaders are encouraged to provide some feedback

Ethical issues and copyright

  • Creative commons licensing
    • IRIS encourages contributors to license their materials with: derivatives allowed; non-commercial; share-alike
  • Uploaders cite any sources they have used in the development of their instrument
  • The IRIS team can help to pursue copyright or permission requests

Founders and Awards


  • ESRC (2011-2013)
  • British Academy (2013-2018; 2018-2022; 2022-2026)
  • DfE (2018-2022)
  • Research England (2021-2022)
  • University of York (2011-to date)
  • Wiley
  • John Benjamins


  • Pan, J. (2021). York Open Research Award for “Developing and validating internet-based Tests of Aptitude for Language Learning (TALL)”.


Support from users

  • Center for Applied Linguistics, US (Donna Christian, President)
  • Committee for Linguistics in Education, UK (Graeme Trousdale, Chair)
  • Early Language Learning in Europe (Janet Enever, Director)
  • Higher Education Academy's Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, UK (Mike Kelly, Director)
  • International Association for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (Herbert Puchta, President)
  • Language Learning Journal (Norbert Pachler, Co-Editor)
  • Modern Language Association's Committee on Information Technology, US (Barbara Lafford)
  • Research Special Interest Group of the International Association for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (Anthony Bruton, Co-ordinator)
  • TESOL International Association
  • UKOLN, Centre of Excellence in Digital Information Management (Michael Day, Research and Development Manager and Team Leader, UKOLN, University of Bath, UK)

The research community supports the launch of IRIS (2011/2012)

Letters from journal editors
  • Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (Charlene Polio, Editor-in-Chief)
  • Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (Ping Li, Co-ordinating Editor)
  • International Journal of Bilingualism (Li Wei, Editor)
  • Journal of French Language Studies (Florence Myles, Chief Editor)
  • Language Learning (Robert DeKeyser, outgoing Editor, and Lourdes Ortega, incoming Editor)
  • Language Teaching (Graeme Porte, Editor)
  • Language Teaching Research (Rod Ellis, Editor)
  • Language Policy (Kendall King, Editor)
  • Second Language Research (John Archibald, Co-Editor)
  • Studies in Second Language Acquisition (Susan Gass, Associate Editor)
  • System (Norman Davies, General Editor)
Letters from presidents of professional research associations
  • American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) (Jeff Connor-Linton, President)
  • British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) (Susan Hunston, Acting Chair)
  • European Second Language Association (EUROSLA) (Jean-Marc Dewaele, President)
  • International Association for Applied Linguistics (AILA) (Martin Bygate, President)
  • Language Learning and Teaching Special Interest Group (BAAL LLT SIG) (Suzanne Graham, Convenor)
  • Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) (Kersti Borjars, President)

What people are saying about IRIS

  • "One of the most interesting and potentially widest-impact Second Language Acquisition projects I've heard about in a long time ... ground-breaking." (Lourdes Ortega)
  • "A very important contribution to second language research. Very timely ... An invaluable resource!" (Florence Myles)
  • "I was so impressed with how user-friendly the whole submission process was - thank you to you and the rest of the team for making it so easy for us to upload materials onto the database!" (Sheena Shah)
  • "I always recommend IRIS to my own students" (Aneta Pavlenko)
  • "This is very straightforward. I also like the fact that it stores previous data so uploading a second instrument was very quick and easy." (Robert Woore)
  • "Long overdue in the field of second language acquisition." (Graeme Porte)
  • "This has the potential to raise the quality of SLA research around the globe." (Barbara Lafford)
  • "IRIS is a great project, so uploading the materials was a natural choice." (Patrick Rebuschat)
  • "[This will] facilitate replication of empirical studies, foster research and strengthen the field as a whole. I wholeheartedly support this project." (Li Wei)
  • "Establishing publicly accessible databases of this kind must be a very valuable development for applied linguistics in general." (Martin Bygate)
  • "A unique and welcome service to the field of second language acquisition." (Susan Gass)
  • "Your database will assist authors and encourage not only more thorough reviews of research, but also more replication and thus more rigorous meta-analyses. I strongly support this project." (Charlene Polio)
  • "The IRIS digital repository is an invaluable resource for researchers into second language and bilingualism." (Brian Richards)
  • "This is a great initiative." (James Coleman)
  • "A most welcome tool." (Kersti Börjars)
  • "I often tell my students to look into IRIS when they are developing research materials...it's really my pleasure to contribute!" (Natsuko Shintani)


IRIS was founded in 2011, by Emma Marsden (PI) and Alison Mackey (Co-I), funded by the ESRC and then, in 2012, by the British Academy.

The IRIS Advisory Group

Former Advisory Group Members

Project schedule

  • May 2011: Project began
  • July 2011: International researchers submitting their instruments (invited)
  • January 2012: Full upload facility live, to populate IRIS
  • Spring 2012: Search and download facilities live
  • ...
  • December 2022: IRIS moves to a new cloud-based backend

A series of invited colloquia, hosted by the IRIS project.

Monday 2nd - Tuesday 3rd September 2013, at the University of York, UK.

The IRIS team is pleased to announce a two-day series of invited talks and poster presentations, to bring together researchers working across diverse areas of second language studies.

Content of papers. Each presentation will be a conference-style paper, a hands-on workshop, or a demonstration. Questions to be addressed include:

  • What data collection tool or approach does this presentation focus on?
  • What sorts of data emerge from using this tool/instrument?
  • What are some of the methodological challenges that come up when using this particular elicitation technique or approach to collecting data?
  • How do such challenges impact theory, findings, or research designs?
  • Are there recent innovations, developments, or refinements of this tool or approach?
  • Do any other kinds of measures / instruments / tests contribute to our understanding of the use of this elicitation tool?

Each colloquium will end with a discussion of 20 minutes.

Full Academic Programme


Monday 2nd Sept.
Emma Marsden, Alison Mackey [slides: one, two]
Eliciting data on identity in L2 language learning
Kimberly Noels (University of Alberta) [slides]
Alison Mackey, Sheena Shah, Kaitlyn Tagarelli and Sam Kirkham (Georgetown University / Lancaster University) [slides]
Sarah Mercer (University of Graz) [ slides]
Florentina Taylor (University of York) [ slides]
11:00-11:30 Break
On-line methods for investigating L2 processing
Casey Lew-Williams (Northwestern University) [ slides]
Leah Roberts (University of York) [ slides]
Guillaume Thierry (Bangor University) [slides]
Danijela Trenkic (University of York) [ slides]
1:30-3:30 LUNCH
MONIQUE E BEAUDOIN (Office of Naval Research Global). Applying for ONR Global funding.
3:30-4:00 Break
Eliciting different types of knowledge of L2 morphosyntax
Rosemary Erlam (University of Auckland) [ slides, audio clips: one, two, three, four]
Kara Morgan-Short (University of Illinois at Chicago) [ slides]
Patrick Rebuschat (Lancaster University) [ slides]
John Williams (University of Cambridge) [ slides]
7:00 Conference Dinner at St William's College
Tuesday 3rd Sept.
Measuring working memory capacity for L2 learning research
Graham Hitch, Meesha Warmington and Swathi Kandru (University of York) [slides]
Rita Kaushanskaya (University of Wisconsin-Madison) [slides]
Steve Majerus (University of Liège) [ slides]
Elisabet Service (McMaster University) [slides]
10:30-11:00 Break
Eliciting oral interaction data
Bryan Smith (Arizona State University) [slides]
María del Pilar García Mayo (University of the Basque Country) and Eva Alcón Soler (University Jaume I (Castello)) [ slides, audio clip]
Rhonda Oliver (Curtin University) [ slides]
Jenefer Philp (Lancaster University) [slides]
1:00-2:00 LUNCH
Eliciting priming effects in L2 learning research
Kim McDonough (Concordia University) [ slides]
Marije Michel (Lancaster University) [ slides]
Pavel Trofimovich (Concordia University) [slides]
Anita Thomas (Lund University) [ slides]
4:00-4:30 CLOSING DISCUSSION: Challenges ahead and a role for IRIS
Emma Marsden and Alison Mackey


  • Insights from real-time measurement of L2 state motivation. (Maimoonah Al Khalil, King Saud University)
  • Perception and production of English vowels by FL learners: Towards a foreign language model. (Rana Alhussein Almbark, University of York)
  • Speech and communication in educational settings in Northern Ireland. (Catriona Arlow, Queens University Belfast)
  • Measuring short term memory for serial order and incidental learning as aptitudes for L2 idiomaticity. (Cylcia Bolibaugh, St Mary's University College)
  • Acquiring new words from syntactically simple and complex text by L2 learners of German. (Denisa Bordag, Amit Kirschenbaum, Andreas Opitz, and Erwin Tschirner, University of Leipzig)
  • Acquiring the phonetics and/or phonology of English word stress. (Nadia Bouchhioua, Universite de la Manouba, Tunisia, Rana Alhussein Almbark and Sam Hellmuth, University of York)
  • Investigating L2 grammar knowledge acquisition under implicit and explicit learning conditions. (Nadiia Denhovska, The University of Manchester)
  • The evolution of elicited imitation: Syntactic priming comprehension and production task. (Amy Fang-Yen Hsieh, Man-Kit Lee. University of Cambridge)
  • How complete are think-alouds? A comparison of verbal reports and finger tracking during L2 reading. (Aline Godfroid and Le Anne Spino, Michigan State University)
  • Elicited imitation task as a method for proficiency assessment in institutional and research settings. (Stéphanie Gaillard, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dr Annie Tremblay, University of Kansas)
  • Eliciting knowledge about morphosyntax from young foreign language learners. (Rowena Hanan and Emma Marsden, University of York)
  • Collecting and analysing longitudinal oral L2 data: Experiences from the SALA-COLE Project. (Maria Juan-Garau, University of the Balearic Islands and Carmen Pérez-Vidal, Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
  • Using micro-genetic studies in L2 acquisition research. (Vera Kempe, University of Abertay Dundee, Patricia J. Brooks, City University of New York)
  • A methodological nightmare and a goldmine of data: Measuring outcomes in an experimental evaluation of CLIL. (Liss Kerstin Sylven, University of Gothenburg)
  • On the quandary of L1 English language learner identity: predicaments of learner group identity and consequences for data eliciting. (Ursula Lanvers, Open University)
  • Picture verification task: Toward an understanding of the relationship between L2 sentence processing and grammar acquisition. (Agnieszka Latos and Marzena Watorek, Université de Paris 8 and CNRS)
  • CorrectMe: a grammar checker that teaches and learns at the same time. (Jim Lawley, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia)
  • Using picture stories to elicit oral data on the acquisition of the past simple tense. (Hanne Roothooft, University of Navarre)
  • Re-evaluating dictation: The effectiveness of transcription tasks for developing intensive listening skills. (Jon Rowberry, Sojo University)
  • The role of multimodality in early L2 vocabulary learning and memorisation. (Sarah Jane Rule and Rosamond Mitchell, University of Southampton)
  • Extensive reading and development of L2 learners' reading efficiency: an eye movement study. (Miho Sasaki, Keio University)
  • Sentence recall in natives and near natives. (Judith Schweppe[1], Ralf Rummer[1], Sandra Barth[2], and Almut Ketzer[1], [1]University of Erfurt, [2]Kiel University)
  • Eye tracking in learner interaction: A CALL perspective. (Bryan Smith, Arizona State University)
  • Quantitative and qualitative differences between single and multiple word association tasks in L2. (Tessa Spätgens, University of Amsterdam)
  • Eye-tracking for Chinese online learning. (Ursula Stickler, The Open University, and Lijing Shi, London School of Economics)
  • Eliciting priming effects in synchronous computer mediated communication [title TBC] (Laura Stiefenhöfer, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany)
  • Measuring acquisition at the syntax/semantics interface: an example from instructed L2 German. (Elizabeth Thoday, Heriot-Watt University)
  • Investigating WM effects in SLA. (Clare Wright, Newcastle University)

Scheduled Maintenance

Tuesdays from 08:00AM to 11:00AM GMT is the IRIS scheduled maintenance period. During this period we routinely apply system updates and the system may be unavailable.

Contact IRIS

Please contact us with any questions.

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