Detecting user needs for new online dictionary projects: Business as usual, user research or …?

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This contribution first refers to one of the problems affecting modern e-lexicography, viz. information overload, and proposes six general principles which could guide the design of future online dictionaries. It then discusses some of the techniques and methods which can be used in order to apply these principles. It shows that most serious user research so far has focussed on the central consultation phase, whereas little attention has been given to the direct study of the pre-consultation phase where the users’ needs occur. Based upon a distinction between general and specific knowledge of user needs, it then discusses various methods to determine these needs which are considered the point of departure of any new dictionary project. Finally it argues that although the required specific knowledge may be achieved by means of some of the old and new methods used in lexicographical user research, these methods are nonetheless too time-consuming and costly to be applied to each and every new dictionary project. It therefore recommends the deductive method, which is embedded in the function theory, as an efficient, cheap and easy method in this regards.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch into dictionary use : Wörterbuchbenutzungsforschung. 5. Arbeitsbericht des wissenschaftlichen Netzwerks „Internetlexikografie“
EditorsCarole Tiberius, Carolin Müller-Spitzer
Number of pages11
Place of publicationMannheim
PublisherInstitut für Deutsche Sprache
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
SeriesOPAL - Online publizierte Arbeiten zur Linguistik


  • Lexicography
  • Lexicographical user research


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