Researchers Talking About the Language of Kids

A Sentence a Day

By: Lizbeth H. Finestack

Last year I came across a viral video in which a father filmed his son a second a day for the son’s first year of life. The video is truly incredible:

Then, I came to find that this is a “thing.” You can find tons of montages comprising “a second a day” for a year to make a 6 min video. Check these out:


Feeling pretty inspired viewing these, I thought, “I could do this.” But, being a language person, I wanted it to be more than a picture.  What about “a sentence a day”? And who better to capture, than my own kids.  Of course I thought I would do this for a year, but quickly came to find how difficult it was to get a video from each of my kids everyday.  It required me to remember and the kids to be willing to talk – not good odds.

What did I get?  Well, almost a sentence (or so) a day for a little more than a month:





Maybe I’ll start “a sentence a month.” It might be a little more manageable…



TED Talks

By: Lizbeth H. Finestack & Ignatius Nip

Here are some fun language-related TED talks!


















Tracking Productivity

By: Lizbeth H. Finestack

I am sure that for many years to come I will be trying to figure out the perfect formula for maximizing productivity across all aspects of my life. Here I am going to share my latest strategies for trying to get things done at work. None of my strategies are original. I pulled together tips and advice that people have told me or that I have read in a “How to Succeed” book. I am always eager to learn how others seemingly manage it all. Some of the books that I have drawing upon lately include:


How to Write a Lot

Here are the three simple strategies that I have dabbled with for years, and have consistently applied for the past three weeks. I feel like I am accomplishing a ton and being “productive” so I thought that I would share.

  • Get up early and get to work early: My alarm is set for 4:20 AM. I never get up at that time, but maybe 5:00 or 5:30. This gets me to work by 6:30 or 7:00 and allows me to have a solid 2 hours to be productive. Cognitively, I am most alert first thing in the morning so this time is NEVER spent on emails, but instead tasks that require concentration like writing! Note: For this to work it requires my significant other to be home and able to do morning kid duty.
  • Have a plan: At the beginning of the semester I made a list of everything that I would like to accomplish this semester. I categorized my goals into four buckets: Grants, Writing, Teaching, and Service. Then, at the beginning of the month I decide which of the items I will work on and break down the larger goals into smaller steps. Finally, each week I list out everything I would like to get done plus what I must get done. I know that I won’t get through everything, but it makes me feel better to know that at least I am thinking about the task.  As I create my weekly “to do” list I also estimate how much time the task will take. The most exciting part is that when I finish a task, I cross it off my list by filing the task cell grey. I have made a spreadsheet in my google drive to keep track of this. Here’s an example:

productivity spreadshet

  • Keep track of time: To maximize my time I need to know what I am doing with my time. I use toggl to help me track my time.  I put in my task and assign it to a “project” that corresponds to one of my buckets. Then, I transfer my time to my task spreadsheet. I love being able to chart my progress over time. It helps me to see where I spent too much time in a given week. The following week I will make more effort to spend time on tasks that had been neglected.

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We will see where I am at the end of the semester, but I am feeling pretty good about the start!

Impact Factors

By: Lizbeth H. Finestack

I recently had a manuscript rejected. My next steps are to take the feedback I received in the reviews, revise the manuscript, and submit it to another journal. I began to try to think of other journal platforms for this particular study and felt like I hit a wall. I want to branch out, but which journal would be a good choice?  Certainly, I need to select a journal with a good content link, but I also want to choose a respectable journal. This brought me to consider the impact factor metric. A journal’s impact factor for any given year (X) = A/B, where:

A = the number of times that articles published in that journal in the two years prior to Year X were cited by articles in indexed journals during X.
B = the total number of “citable items” published by that journal in the two years prior to Year X.
*”Citable items” are usually articles, reviews, proceedings, or notes; not editorials or letters to the editor.

I went to the Journal Citation Reports of the ISI Web of Knowledge to look up some impact factors of some potential journals. I remember once upon a time going to the library and asking the librarian for a disk (to put into the computer) to retrieve impact factors. This time I could do it from the convenience of my laptop while watching Seth Meyers.  That being said, it wasn’t quite the smooth ride I was expecting.  I had trouble finding the mark button, marking items, and saving the marked items to my list. After a few tries, I did get it. After so much trouble, I decided to mark any journal that might have a remote chance of being applicable to my work. I searched several social science categories and came up with 118 journals.  Many of these I have never heard of, but based on the journal titles, thought they might be worth considering.

Here is the list in alphabetical order:

Impact Factors_alpha

If you are wondering about some of the other metrics listed, here is what they reflect:

  • 5-year Impact Factor: Average impact factor across 5 years
  • Immediacy Index: Average number of times an article is cited in the year it is published
  • Cited Half-Life: Median age of articles cited by the journal in the JCR year
  • Eigenfactor Score: Number of times articles from the journal published in the past five years have been cited in the JCR year (note: Eigenfactor Scores are not influenced by journal self-citation)
  • Article Influence Score: Average influence of a journal’s articles over the first five years after publication – calculated by dividing a journal’s Eigenfactor Score by the number of articles in the journal

Here is the list sorted by impact factor:

Impact Factors_IF

So, it looks like I will be targeting the journal of Child Development…maybe someday.