Planning discovery


Acquisition begins with discovery, and discovery begins with a plan. A critical objective in any plan is the target of the search. A plan answers the question: What data am I going to look for?


There is no limit to the set of possible strategies for targeting your discovery efforts. Our project has a standard strategy, and we describe it below, but you may think of others, and some of them may work better for you. Some possible strategy categories are:

  • Type: Choose a format or genre of data and look for data of that type. Example: field linguists’ notes held in archives.
  • Project: Choose a project and look for data produced by, in, or for that project. Example: Apertium.
  • Location: Choose a region (province, country, etc.) and look for data located in that region. Example: Bolivia.
  • Search language: Choose a language and look for data labeled, indexed, referenced, or catalogued in that language. Example: Hindi.
  • Subject language: Choose a language and look for data that translate expressions from or into that language. Example: Zande.


Discovery planning is subject to the priorities described as part of our acquisition principles. These most directly affect subject-language targeting, but are relevant to other strategies, too.

The PanLem priority-language selector offers one tool for prioritizing subject-language targeting.

The acquisition management system also prioritizes subject languages for you.

Both of these systems, as of now, implement simple prioritization that ignores some of our priorities, including diversity and laterality. So, it is wise to avoid blind reliance on these tools and keep in mind the possibility of refining their outputs with other information available to you.

Standard strategy

Our standard strategy is based on subject-language targeting and makes use of our acquisition management system. If you are a PanLex intern or volunteer, you will be trained in it. If you believe that you can do better acquisition with a different strategy, feel free to let the PanLex staff know. We encourage innovative problem-solving by our collaborators.