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

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 now: 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


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)
  • UKOLN, Centre of Excellence in Digital Information Management (Michael Day, Research and Development Manager and Team Leader, UKOLN, University of Bath, UK)

Support from research community

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)


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

Past 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


  • Please help to raise awareness by sending this weblink to colleagues
  • And please upload an instrument, dataset or postprint
    • Approx. 15 minutes, to make IRIS a sustained and integral part of our community's practice

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.

Search and download

Enter any text you wish into the search box below, such as an author, a type of instrument, a data collection method, a research area, a language, a linguistic feature, etc.

Click search to see everything in IRIS, and then use filters to narrow down your search

For terms you can search for, see the Search Help page. Multiple terms separated by a space are automatically treated as term1 OR term2 OR ... searches.