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SocArXiv papers

  • Is the Jump-Diffusion Model a Good Solution for Credit Risk Modeling? The Case of Convertible Bonds
    This paper argues that the reduced-form jump diffusion model may not be appropriate for credit risk modeling. To correctly value hybrid defaultable financial instruments, e.g., convertible bonds, we present a new framework that relies on the probability distribution of a default jump rather than the default jump itself, as the default jump is usually inaccessible. As such, the model can back out the market prices of convertible bonds. A prevailing belief in the market is that convertible arbitrage is mainly due to convertible underpricing. Empirically, however, we do not find evidence supporting the underpricing hypothesis. Instead, we find that convertibles have relatively large positive gammas. As a typical convertible arbitrage strategy employs delta-neutral hedging, a large positive gamma can make the portfolio highly profitable, especially for a large movement in the underlying stock price.
  • Using Reflexive Lifelines in Biographical Interviews to aid the Collection, Visualization and Analysis of Resilience
    This article demonstrates the use of a reflexive lifeline instrument within a study oriented towards documenting and explaining resilience from a sociological perspective. Informed by both life course and biographical perspectives, our research design comprised two interviews incorporating recursive co-construction of the participant's lifeline. We aimed to meet three objectives with this method: (1) to collect accurate retrospective data about the timing of lives; (2) to garner biographical data that allowed us to explore lives as wholes; and (3) to elicit participant reflexivity on turning points associated with resilience. Our approach was distinctive in its explicit use of the lifeline both as a means to bring life stories into dialogue with life histories, and as a dynamic prompt to engage participants in the reflexive co-construction of turning points as fateful moments. We illustrate our approach through a case presentation and analysis of the reflexive lifelines co-constructed with two men who participated in our study. We also show how the reflexive lifeline interview generated opportunities for participant-led researcher reflexivity.
  • Legislature Size and Welfare: Evidence from Brazil
    What is the effect of legislature size on public service provision? While the literature relates legislature size to representation and government expenditure, its implications for welfare remain understudied. In this paper, we investigate the effects of legislature size on welfare, exploiting exogenous changes in city-council size in Brazil between 2005 and 2008. We show that adding a legislator improves education and health care. However, the results prove true for the services that are believed to be highly salient to voters, are easiest to claim credit for, and are easy to provide. In this sense, education quality and preventive health care remain unaffected while infant mortality and primary school enrollment significantly improve. To investigate the mechanism, we surveyed former councilors and analyzed 346,553 bills proposed by municipalities in the period. This analysis largely corroborates our findings, showing that politicians prefer to provide private and local public goods. This paper has implications for the design of legislative institutions.
  • Student attrition in gender atypical fields of study. A matter of lacking social integration or pressure from significant others?
    In most European countries, the choice of college majors is highly segregated by gender. Only a small amount of students enrolls in a gender atypical major. Previous studies indicated that these students may have a higher attrition rate than their counterparts in gender typical majors. In this paper, I investigated whether this higher attrition rate is caused by lower levels of social integration and pressure from significant others. I built a synthesis of Tinto's model of student drop out and Kanter's theory of tokenism and drew on theories of comparative reference groups to test these hypotheses. Using data from the German National Educational Panel Study, which follows undergraduate students who enrolled in 2010, I conducted discrete time survival analysis. I found that men and women in gender atypical majors have a higher risk to switch to a more gender balanced major and - only for women - to drop out than students in gender typical majors. Low levels of social integration and disapproval of the major by significant others increase the attrition risk. However, these two aspects do not contribute to the explanation of the higher attrition risk of students in gender atypical majors. Alternative explanations are discussed.
  • Counting Everyone: PMM, a Model for Electoral Reform in Canada
    Declining voter participation, strategic-voting campaigns, public opinion polls, and myriad other signals highlight the need to improve Canada's current first-past-the-post electoral system. How the system ought to be changed, however, remains unclear. This paper briefly reviews candidate models for electoral reform from other nations, before putting forward the parsimonious mixed-member (PMM) model. This model was inspired by the mixed-member (MM) proportional representation system, as currently used in, for example, Germany. It is 'parsimonious', however, in the sense that the number of additional MPs brought into parliament to reach proportionality is minimized. Like traditional MM, PMM preserves the individual relationship between every voter and an MP, and it eliminates under-representation of parties. Unlike traditional MM, however, it also preserves the incentive for parties to win local races, it avoids unnecessary dilution of constituency representatives, and it avoids misattributing spoiled ballots to major parties. As such, it can be thought of as an optimization of MM. A key feature of this model is conservatism -it modifies our existing system with the minimal set of changes necessary to resolve the most obvious problems in the current system, without creating new ones. It fixes only what is broken.
  • Power Relations through the Flouting of Cooperative Principles in Popular Culture- House M.D.
    This paper studies the flouting of the conversational maxims as means of exercising power in a sample of popular culture; the medical television drama House M.D. The study samples scenes from the eight seasons of the series in which its protagonist Dr. Gregory House intentionally, and unintentionally, flouts conversational maxims to redefine rules of power play. To that end, this linguistics study of conversational principles is contextualized within a broad sociological framework of the theories defining power and a broader frame of the critical discursive analysis of power and language. The findings primarily demonstrate that uncooperativeness of one of the participants and their disregard for conversational principles points towards an imbalance in power relations.
  • The Role of NLP Principles as Tools for Facilitating Learning EFL For Saudi Students
    Learning English language for the majority of Saudi students has always been considered difficult and rarely successfully achieved. "English poses difficulties for many Saudi students due to the low English levels acquired at secondary schools" (Al-Shami, 2004). Additionally, the overall achievement in English language among the majority of Saudi students, after completing six years of studying EFL extensively, is remarkably low (AL-Karood, 2006; Al Buna'yan, 2003; Al Guaid, 1997; Abuammah, 2002). This research paper will investigate, discuss and analyse the NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) concepts; change and modelling, as well as NLP four principles; outcomes, rapport, sensory acuity and flexibility, in order to specify the actual extent to which these concepts and principles can assist the Saudi EFL students to achieve better, easier and faster performance in learning the English language. By the end of this paper, the researcher intends to highlight the relationship between the NLP principles and the SLA learning strategies (O'Malley, 1990), as well as to attempt to describe some possible ways for applying the NLP principles into SLA.
  • The Expression of Indefiniteness in English and Arabic: A Contrastive Study
    Indefiniteness is a semantic feature expressed by grammatical devices to be used linguistically depending on pragmatic factors. So, the present study deals with indefiniteness syntactically, semantically and pragmatically. These levels are related to each other and it is not easy to draw lines between them. The study aims at (1)Pointing out how the concept of indefiniteness is expressed grammatically in English and Arabic, and show the role of articles in expressing the concept.(2)Showing the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic uses of the indefinite expression in English and Arabic.(3)Identifying the similarity and difference between the two languages at the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic levels which may help to get a common core that contributes to the belief in the existence of language universals. The procedures followed in this study include an introduction about the concept of indefiniteness, and a brief survey of indefiniteness in thirty-one languages to show how this concept is expressed in them. Then, indefiniteness in English and Arabic is dealt with at the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic levels. This is followed by a contrastive analysis to point out the similarities and differences between the two languages. The study has come to the conclusion that, in English, the indefinite feature exists in the noun, not in the article, and the article has a syntactic function rather than a semantic one. The study shows also that, semantically, indefiniteness in English and Arabic is almost the same, and its function is internal to the language system. Syntactically and pragmatically, indefiniteness in Arabic is more powerful and active than it is in English. Syntactically, the indefinite item is obligatory in certain positions to perform different functions. Pragmatically, the indefinite item acquires additional meaning from the context in which it occurs.
  • A Plea for a Focus on the Contrasts between Two Paradigms and Their Implications for Problem Statement
    To adequately tackle a research problem, master students of applied linguistics should learn that the selection of (a) data elicitation technique (s) should be made in consistence with choices at three other levels: method, methodology and paradigm. Hence, this paper addresses the following question: how should the methodology course be reformulated to render it more efficient in raising students' awareness of this issue? An analysis of some research methods manuals currently in use reveals that two major obstacles hinder students 'ability to learn this issue: the pluralistic nature of applied linguistics and the rampant use of mixed methodologies. To overcome these obstacles, this paper proposes a teaching strategy consisting of focusing the initial phase on a contrastive analysis of two methods, which stand at extreme positions on the methodological continuum in applied linguistics, namely, experimental design and ethnography. Moreover, given that the presentation of the differences between these two methods is not sufficient, the paper argues that this presentation should be reinforced by a foregrounding of the essential differences in problem statement in the two research traditions in question. The paper concludes with some recommendations on the appropriate way to implement the proposed teaching strategy.
  • Introducing the Target Language Culture to EFL Learners to Enhance Sociocultural Competence
    This research attempted to investigate the effect that teaching English language culture has on Algerian EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners' sociocultural competence. It also aimed at showing that having no exposure to English language culture alongside learning the English language itself will affect learners' understanding and production of the language. In this light, the study attempts to answer the following questions: to what extent is the culture of the English language present in the lessons of English language that are introduced to secondary school students? What cultural background do secondary school students have about the English language? And if they do have any cultural background, what is the source of that background and whether culture teaching enhances EFL learners' socio-cultural competence? We hypothesised that teaching culture to Algerian EFL learners will increase their sociocultural competence and improve their understanding of the language. This hypothesis was tested through conducting a quasi-experimental study with a group of eighteen students from Habba Abd El-Madjid Secondary School in El-Meghaier, El-Oued (Algeria) The final results revealed a remarkable improvement among the majority of students concerning their sociocultural competence and their perception and understanding of authentic English language. Therefore, it is recommended that the element of culture should be integrated into English language curricula of Algerian schools and that, if done, it will take students' level one step further towards a better acquisition of English language.
  • Phrasal Verbs in English as a Second/Foreign Language
    Phrasal verbs are used very regularly in the English language, and native English speakers are found to use phrasal verbs on a daily basis and cannot do without the use of phrasal verbs in everyday communicative situations. However, phrasal verbs in English language teaching as a second/foreign language is almost non-existent. That is, English as a second language (ESL)/English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching environments, in the Arab world, and specifically in Iraq, hardly teach the meaning of phrasal verbs to students, and neglect teaching the correct ways of using them, despite the fact that they are an essential part of daily native English communication. Therefore, and due to the vitality of phrasal verbs to native speakers of English, ESL/EFL students should be taught and educated to be capable of understanding and using phrasal verbs when interacting in English because knowledge of phrasal verbs would normally lead to better English language proficiency and more native-like communication. Nonetheless, phrasal verbs are not easy, and students often find them difficult, because phrasal verbs carry a specific meaning which is not inferable from the meaning of its composing words inseparable form as well as other reasons which have been explained within this paper. Hence, this paper points to the necessity of including phrasal verbs in English language teaching. Through implementing a qualitative approach, the aim, within this paper, is to identify and list causes of difficulty that learners of the English language may face when it comes to knowledge of English phrasal verbs, with regard to the spontaneous and fluent use of phrasal verbs by native English speakers. The significance, here, is to point out the need of taking this matter into serious concern and to offer suggestions and recommendations for better English as a second/foreign language learning and teaching, all in hope of better English language proficiency and ability.
  • Improving Postgraduates' Academic Writing Skills with Summarizing Strategy
    Writing is one of the essential poles of language learning, and should be one of the senior interest, and concern to teachers, students, and researchers. The purpose of this study is to identify the effect of using the summarizing strategy on postgraduates 'learners. To develop the summary writing skills, two months implementation is applied to twenty Iraqi postgraduates 'learners, who are studying English as a foreign language (EFL) .The participants were from two departments in the college of political sciences at A-Nahrain University, Iraq, during the academic year 2018-2019. It was carried out in a single-group pre-post-test model only. A pre-test on summary writing conducted to participants a week before the summarizing strategy applied. The experimental process of the study lasted eight weeks, where the participants received 16 treatment sessions. Five different passages choose from their textbook (Headway for Academic Skills Level3), which was recommended by the university. The selected written passage for post-test was "globalization." The participants asked to summarize the passage within 45 minutes according to the new strategy. Data of the summary written test collected, and scored according to the five criteria such as; (grammar, vocabulary, organizing, content, and coherence). The findings of the study indicated that the summarizing strategy has a significant effect on postgraduates' learners in academic writing skills, so it is recommended that this strategy be applied in the curriculum of our schools and universities.
  • The Interplay between Social Contexts of Power and Aggravation Strategies: Identity- specific Perspectives in Fictional Discourse
    This paper attempts a pragmatic analysis of the interplay between social contexts of power and sociolinguistic device of aggravation strategies concerning dialogic discourses in Vikram Seth's novel A Suitable Boy (ASB) (1993). The paper attempts to validate that aggravation strategies have been an integral part of human discourse. It demonstrates how people use aggravation strategies to exercise power over others in different communicative contexts. It also exemplifies how power is vested in specific identities, and their role relationships in different power structures existing in the society based on their caste, age, sex, social standing, political or official identity, and how the power is exerted in the context of their social identities. The paper defines various aspects of aggravation, explains the dominant participatory identities, namely master identities, situated identities, and discourse identities and analyses how these social identities exercise power through aggravation strategies in the dialogic discourses in ASB.
  • Involve Me, and I Learn: Preparing English Language Intensive Program Students to the Demands of their Academic Programs
    This study aims to identify Saudi English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students' perspectives towards using the English language in their studies. The study explores students self-confident and its association with students' actual performance in English course in their different academic programs. A multimodal methodology was used to fulfill the research purpose and answer the research questions. A 25-item survey questionnaire and final examination grades were used to collect data. Two hundred forty-one students agreed to participate in the study. They completed the questionnaire and agreed to release their final grades to be a part of the collected data. The data were coded and analyzed by SPSS software. The findings indicated a significant difference in students' performance in English courses between participants' academic programs on the one hand. Students' self-confidence in their English language skills, on the other hand, was not significantly different between participants' academic programs. Data analysis also revealed no correlational relationship between students' self-confidence level and their language skills and their performance. The study raises more questions about other vital factors such as course instructors' views of the materials, faculty members of the target department, family belief in the usefulness of the program, protentional employers. These views and beliefs shape the student's preparation process and therefore, should be explored further.
  • Effect of Focused and Unfocused Feedback on Learners' Writing Accuracy within Different Gender and Cultural Background Groups
    This research is to measure the effect of focused and unfocused feedback on second language (L2) learners' writing accuracy with involving gender and learners' cultural background factors. The study applied a pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design. The participants were 128 learners at IAIN Palangka Raya, Indonesia. During the learning process, the first treatment group was treated using Focused Direct Feedback; the second treatment group was treated using Unfocused Direct Feedback, and the control group was not given any treatments or No Feedback. Data were analyzed using a three-way ANOVA analyses. The analysis confirmed that the focused direct of feedback gave a facilitative effect on the learners' writing accuracy. In terms of gender, the learners' writing accuracy differed significantly different between males and female. In terms of cultural background, the learners' writing accuracy did not differ significantly among each ethnics. There were no differences significantly on the learners' writing accuracy caused by gender and the types of corrective feedback factors. There were no differences significantly on the learners' writing accuracy caused by cultural background and types of corrective feedback factors. There were no differences significantly on the learners' writing accuracy caused by gender and cultural background factors. There were no differences significantly on the learners' writing accuracy caused by gender, cultural background the types of corrective feedback factors. To conclude, it was noted that gender and different types of feedback had a vital thing in increasing learners' writing accuracy. Corrective feedback was important for both the teachers and learners in L2 writing class.
  • An Analysis of the Most Common Essay Writing Errors among EFL Saudi Female Learners (Majmaah University)
    This study was conducted to explore and analyze the most common essay writing errors among Saudi female learners at the departments of English, Majmaa'h University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the aim has been to identify those difficulties from an error analysis standpoint and identify the sources underlying them. An analysis of a written corpus of forty students' written essays was thoroughly conducted. Types of errors were categorized, and the factors that contributed to them were analyzed. The participants were English majors in their third year of study enrolled in an advanced writing course during the first term pertinent to the academic year 2018-2019. Three essays were given to each participant to write about two to four pages using the narrative, descriptive, and compare/contrast organization. A writing difficulties questionnaire was further employed. The findings showed that the most frequent types of errors made by the participants were: punctuation errors forming the most troublesome area, followed by spelling errors, preposition errors, article errors, wrong verb tense, wrong word form respectively. The findings suggested that writing in English as a foreign language is quite challenging for students. Interlingual and intralingual transfer was found to be the source underlying the most common errors.
  • The Important Role of Teachers' Feedback during Speaking Activities in Moroccan Classes
    Throughout the teaching/learning process of speaking, a teacher's role is believed to hold great importance. Teachers initiate learners to the whole learning process, and their feedback constitutes the significant step forward that triggers learners towards enunciating a language. As an illustration, Swain (1985, 2000) uses empirical evidence to show the importance of teacher's feedback during the production of speaking. Relatable to feedback during oral activity are issues that highlight teachers' pronunciation, fluency, body language, facial expressions, and error correction during the production phase. To identify these areas, the current article used students' questionnaires. The general aim is to gauge learners' perceptions, practices and problems. Results highlight the pivotal teachers' role in the whole process. Therefore, the specific aim of this study is to investigate the role of teachers' feedback during speaking activities in Moroccan classes. Results show that interaction enhancement and negotiation density do indeed establish the interconnection between accuracy and fluency. Some speech strategists and specialists have already demonstrated how instruction and the way teachers provide feedback do play a major role in learners' speaking skills including the need for a contrary evidence.
  • Effects of Learning Culture on English-Language Learning for Saudi EFL Students
    This quantitative study aimed to investigate the influence of incorporating English-culture learning into English-language learning by observing the perspectives of Saudi EFL learners. It illustrated if there is an effect of learning culture on English language competence to the students of Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University . The study's methodology included a questionnaire administered to 70 undergraduate female students in the English department at Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia. Results show that Saudi students recognized that culture and language are related to each other and the learning process cannot be fully realized without consideration of both aspects. Moreover, the study found that learning the English language with its corresponding cultural elements will enhance the speed and enjoyment of Saudi students' learning process. Furthermore, the study demonstrates that learning a foreign language not only involves studying syntactic structures or learning new vocabularies, but also should incorporate some cultural elements. From Saudi students' point of view, the only difficulty that might face them is the differences between Arabic and English cultures. Finally, this study recommends that further research can investigate the effect of culture on learning from the teachers' point of view
  • Foreign Language Anxiety: A Systematic Review
    Research in foreign language learning has notably revealed that foreign language anxiety has been a crucial area in applied linguistics. Therefore, this study tends to give a comprehensive review of literature on foreign language anxiety. This review also tries to add an additional explanation to the earlier studies of this issue. It clarifies the concept of foreign language anxiety and how it is different from other related types of anxiety. Finally, it shows the main causes and effects of foreign language anxiety that influence language learners.
  • Authorship Attribution Revisited: The Problem of Flash Fiction A morphological-based Linguistic Stylometry Approach
    This study is concerned with addressing the limitations with the authorship attribution of flash or micro-fiction. The shortness of linguistic data in texts of the kind makes it challenging for conventional stylometric authorship methods to assign disputed texts to their real authors. As thus, this study proposes a new stylometric authorship system based on morphological patterns and letter mapping properties. The assumption is that these carry unique and distinctive stylistic features that can be usefully used to recognize possible authors of disputed texts. The study is based on a corpus of 259 flash fiction stories written in Arabic. Cluster analysis was for grouping documents that have shared linguistic features together. Results indicate that all texts were successfully matched with their real authors. It can be concluded that morphological information can be usefully used for improving the performance of authorship attribution and detection in Arabic texts due to the unique stylistic features of the affixation processes in Arabic. Controversial texts in Arabic can thus be assigned to their authors based on detecting stable morphological patterns with reliable authorship performance.
  • Teaching Tamazight in Mostaganem: Challenges and Perspectives
    Teachers are crucial agents of any language education planning as they can make it succeed or fail. In this article, we intend to provide state of the art, concerning teaching Tamazight in Algeria through a case study. We conducted research in Mostaganem city where Tamazight is introduced in 9 primary schools. This investigation aims to study the role of Tamazight teachers' entry- profiles and the challenges they are facing. We collect data by employing questionnaires and interviews. These research methods help to give insightful information about the reality, needs, and challenges of Tamazight's instructors. The findings reveal that educators need training, and involvement of specialists to arrange the contexts where Tamazight is being introduced (attitudes). So, more efforts should be spent to improve the situation for achieving the objectives behind the formulation of the Tamazight policy.
  • The Use of Images for Teaching Abstract Words Versus Concrete Words: A Semiotic Study
    Semiotics has been investigated in the literature to enhance second language vocabulary acquisition. The previous studies have examined how semiotics could aid second language (L2) learner to learn concrete words. This study aims at investigating the effect of semiotics on learning abstract words. Fifty-five Arab learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) participated in the study and assigned into three groups. The first group was taught abstract words using semiotics. The second group was taught concrete words using semiotics. The third group was taught the same words using a traditional way, i.e., without semiotics. Results of the post-test indicated that participants in semiotics groups (either concrete or abstract) outscored the participants who did not use semiotics to learn new words. The study concluded that semiotics is a useful tool to enhance learning new words. Also, semiotics can be more helpful in learning concrete words than abstract words.
  • The Use of Information Tones in Obama's Speech: A Phono-Pragmatic Analysis
    Intonation plays an important role in understanding the intended meaning of speech since neglecting the study of intonation in the discourse leads to a misunderstanding of some pragmatic meaning. This study attempts to answer these two questions: what is the pragmatic function of the information tone types that are employed in Obama's speech concerning the termination component? and what are the pragmatic function of the proclaiming and referring tones that are employed in Obama's speech concerning the dominance and non-dominance factor?. It aims to investigate the types of information tones in Obama's speech concerning the termination component and dominance/non-dominance factor based on Brazil's model (1997) of discourse intonation. This study confines itself to the American political interview and it is a qualitative study. The findings show that all the information tone types (proclaiming, referring, and level) are used in Obama's speech and the high termination is most common level, which is used by Obama in his speech in order to emphasize the information and capture the attention of the interviewer. Generally, it was found that the dominance factor was higher than the non-dominance factor, which reflects that Obama took his status as the controller of the discourse during his speech with the interviewer and most of his speech carries contrastive information, which contradicts the interview's expectation. This study is beneficial for foreign learners and those who are specialists in phonology and pragmatics since it can clarify the function of intonation through the interaction of participants in context.
  • Effects of Integrated Feedback on Academic Writing Achievement
    This study examined the effects of integrated feedback on students' writing achievement. Then, it further investigated the attitude of student towards the implementation of integrated feedback on writing. Twenty students from one class were used as a sample group (intact group) to participate in this study. So the convenience sampling was used to select the participants. Research instruments consisted of integrated feedback model, pretest and posttest, and semi-structure interview questions. The participants did the pretest at the first week of the study. Later on, they were required to write four paragraph writing tasks and all of them were assessed and given feedback. Then they were required to do posttest on week 14. The following week was reserved for in-depth interview. The writing achievement of students was analyzed by Wilcox-Signed Rank Test. Week 15 was reserved for interviewing and the results were analyzed by content analysis. The results demonstrated that students improved their writing after they cooperated with the integrated feedback approach. Interviewing results revealed that they had positive attitude towards implementing integrated feedback in improving their writing skill.
  • Creative Writing from Theory to Practice: Multi-Tasks for Developing Majmaah University Students' Creative Writing Competence
    This research investigates the efficiency of applying creative writing multi-tasks in developing level 4 female English major students' creative writing competence. The study conducted for 12 weeks in 2018- 2019 academic year, in Zulfi College of Education, Majmaah University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The sample consists of 64 female students divided equally into two groups: experimental and control groups. The experimental group studied an advanced college writing course supported by the creative writing multitasks designed by the researcher. A group of pre and posttest design was applied in the study. When the pre and posttest's scores of the experimental group were analyzed and compared, it was detected that there was a statistically considerable difference in the pre- and posttest scores, in favor of posttest's score. Also, it shows that there was a significant difference in the mean scores of the experimental and control group posttest's scores, favoring the experimental group posttest's score. These results prove the main research hypothesis: Creative writing multi-tasks have a significant impact on developing the experimental group's creative writing competence, compared to the control group. The findings indicate that using creative writing multitasks has a positive effect on developing the students' creative writing competence in both fiction and nonfiction essays. It is recommended for English language teachers to adopt similar creative writing multitasks when teaching writing skill.
  • The Perceptions and Beliefs of Saudi Preparatory Year Program Learners Towards Learning English: A Case Study
    Learning English in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) can be a challenging experience. Nevertheless, being proficient in English language guarantees better job opportunities in various fields and thus learners need to acquire an acceptable level of proficiency. Recognizing its significant role in the learners' academic and professional excellence, the English language has gained the status of a mandatory language in the Saudi higher education institutions. As students enter universities for higher studies, they are often required to take prerequisite courses in English to gain a higher level of proficiency. This qualitatively driven descriptive case study investigated the attitudes of EFL students who were enrolled in the Foundation Year Program. This study aimed to examine the learners' feelings, emotions, and attitudes in the light of their academic performance. In total, thirteen male and seventeen female students were interviewed using semi-structured interviews as a main tool for the data collection. They were asked to recall and write their narratives regarding their experience of learning the English language throughout the foundation year program. The socio-constructivist nature of this qualitative case study offered an opportunity to participants to share their stories. Consequently, it highlighted the factors that motivated them for a language learning experience. Moreover, it allowed them to reflect on the challenges that they encountered during their learning odyssey of the English language course as part of the preparatory year program (PYP). Findings from this research study suggest that the participants' motivations to learn English are primarily related to socio-economic reasons. Besides, students were particularly motivated to learn English when they were encouraged by their families and by 'good' teaching practices. Nevertheless, these findings failed to establish an association between the learners' attitudes and their performance on the assessments during the course. This case study adds to the existing literature by examining a context that lacks empirical evidence on the topic of EFL learners' beliefs about English learning. More research in this area is required to determine why this discrepancy occurred
  • English Language Education in Algeria: Hostage of an Exam-Centric Education System
    The present research paper is a plea for a reform policy of English Language Education in Algerian secondary-school education. It attempts to redraw the boundaries of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) from a teaching-testing perspective based on two fundamental questions: the 'what-to-teach' and the 'what-to-test', which represent the rationale of Algerian EFL classrooms. It also expands into a discussion of the discrepancies existing between stated objectives and classroom practice. This deviation from the prescribed syllabus is dictated by the Baccalaureate exam, a standardized test par excellence and the 'entry visa' to university. The study was carried out with a sample population composed of twenty-eight male and female students from the English Department of the University of Tlemcen, Algeria during the first term of the academic year 2018-2019. The data collected tools employed in this pilot experimental study, a pre-unit test (a pre-test), remedial activities, and a post-test, were conducted on the sample at the end of the experiment. The research paper culminates with a formulation of initial pedagogical steps that are likely to develop students' communicative abilities within an exam-centric education system characterized by a grammar-focused and vocabulary-building test-oriented teaching. Hence, to negotiate a balanced approach that would accommodate both effective teaching and efficient testing.
  • Student Engagement for Quality Enhancement and Responding to Student Needs in the Moroccan University: The Case of the English Studies Track
    The present article aims at providing some empirical evidence on the important role student engagement plays in responding to student needs and in enhancing the quality of the teaching and learning environment in Moroccan universities. Student engagement happens at many levels that correspond to the "principles of good practice in undergraduate education" that were suggested by Chickering and Gamson (1987). This article tries to identify these aspects of student engagement and good practice in the English Studies Track (EST) program from the EST students' perspective. The data were collected in three Moroccan universities: Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Tetouan, Ibn Tofail University in Kenitra, and Cadi Ayad University in Marrakech. An adapted version of Student Engagement Questionnaire (Kember, Leung & McNaught, 2009 in Kember & Leung, 2009) was administered to 883 EST students. The data were submitted to a statistical analysis of frequencies using SPSS. The results of this study show that EST students experience a low level of engagement with their studies and that the EST program lacks some aspects of "good practice" in higher education. This study can help enhance the quality of university programs as it reveals some gaps and negative practices that need to be taken into account in the reform process Moroccan universities are going through. Another implication of this research is that students are aware of their needs and, hence, are able to provide useful feedback that can be used to improve the quality of the teaching and learning environment in Moroccan universities.
  • Spelling Problems and Causes among Saudi English Language Undergraduates
    Arab students who learn English as a foreign language, especially Saudi students, face different challenges during the process of learning of the four English language skills, especially writing and its component (spelling). This paper aims to investigate the preceded causes of students' spelling errors. The main research question sought to be answered is: What are the causes of spelling errors made by the Saudi university students? The research participants were 15 students in the English Language Department at Tabuk University and 15 English language lecturers from the same department. Group structured interviews were designed for the lecturers and students. The findings reveal that there are different causes of students' spelling errors such as the education system and university syllabus, students' learning attitude, and the interference between English and Arabic language. This paper concludes that the spelling errors which Saudi university students commit were caused by the negative impacts of their education system and syllabus, where the syllabus ignores the importance of spelling rules and techniques, and the interference between English and Arabic language when the learners refer to their mother tongue while writing in the English language. It is hoped that the findings revealed in this study will help the policymakers in taking necessary actions in improving the learning experience of Arab learners of English. This paper calls for a reform in the English language teaching in Saudi education system so that spelling is given the required emphasis as it is the foundation of English proficiency.
  • The Effects of the Use of First Language on Learning English as a Second Language: Attitudes of Arabic EFL Learners
    Teachers may wonder whether the use of first language (L1) in the second language (L2) classroom is beneficial or detrimental to L2 learning. The present study investigates the attitudes of L1 Arabic speakers towards the use of English in the L2 classroom. The study examined the following: a) whether Arabic is used in English language classrooms; b) students' attitudes towards their English teachers' use of Arabic; c) students' attitudes towards their classmates' use of Arabic; d) whether the use of Arabic facilitates L2 English learning. The study was conducted with 149 male Saudi university English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners studying in a Saudi English department. They were asked to complete two questionnaires: a) a background questionnaire; and b) an attitudinal questionnaire. The findings revealed that the participants believed that: a) Arabic is seldom used by their teachers; b) the use of English is more beneficial than Arabic to learning English; and c) Arabic can be used in some situations by teachers when communicating important information.
  • An Action Research on EFL Writing Dilemmas: A Case of Saudi Students and Instructors
    Learning to write in a second language is a great challenge for students; however, certain factors might minimize these challenges. In general, the Saudi students face difficulty to develop the writing competence in a foreign language because they rely on instructors as a sole source of knowledge. Therefore, the study investigated the English language writing in a university in Saudi Arabia. It implemented an action research design based on three main phases; namely, exploration, intervention, and reflection stage. The main questions asked include how the instructors view the writing style of students within the setting and how they perceived the English language writing curricula among the students. The data drew several conclusions that provided insight into the Saudi Higher Education concerning English as a foreign language (EFL) classes. The first is the spoon-feeding of Saudi learners throughout their educational years; therefore, they find it challenging to gain hold of their learning. Second, writing in English is a challenging task for Saudi students. Third, some of the students memorize writing passages to pass their English course. Fourthly, teaching to write was done by focusing on form, writing mechanics, rather than communicative aspects of writing and genre. This study has contributed towards the understanding of Saudi learners in university language classrooms analyzing their perceptions and expectations.
  • Order and Chaos in Young Adult Science Fiction: A Critical Stylistic Analysis
    With the challenges and revolutionary changes in the world, it is essential that the sources of social power direct the communities towards the right path that leads to a brighter future, especially when it comes to young adults. Young adults represent a critical social group that needs special attention. Therefore, the present paper tackles one of the fascinating literary genres to young adults; young adult science fiction. The paper attempts to investigate how the social themes of order and chaos are delivered to young adults in young adult science fiction through conducting a critical stylistic analysis of certain extracts in selected young adult science fiction novels. The linguistic tool employed for the critical stylistic analysis is negation for its prevalent use in the discourse, in general, and for its textual effectiveness in rendering hidden ideologies, whether intended or unconscious. K
  • An Exploratory Study of the Interplay between EFL Writing Teacher Cognition and Pedagogical Practices in the Palestinian University Context
    This multiple case study explores some intricate connections between the cognition and the pedagogical practices of eight English as a foreign language (EFL) writing instructors over one academic year in two Palestinian universities. The study also examines how their cognition and pedagogical practices interplayed with the ecological contexts in the setting in which they taught. Integral to the study was the use of semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, stimulated-recall interviews, and course document review. Constructivist grounded theory informed the data analysis. Results revealed that the instructors' cognition about second language (L2) writing, about teaching and learning L2 writing, and about their professional roles influences their teaching approach, curriculum design, and classroom assessment methods. The findings also stressed the role of the ecological contexts as a mediating force influencing the interaction between cognition and practices. The classroom context was identified as the most significant barrier to teaching writing; however, gaining access to L2 writing scholarship was viewed as the most significant facilitator for implementing effective practices in the L2 writing classroom. The findings showed that the instructors' cognition about themselves as professionals could mitigate the impact of the ecological constraints hindering L2 writing instruction. This finding of the role of cognition may explain why teachers working in the same context under the same conditions teach differently. The implications of these findings include the importance of encouraging EFL writing instructors to reflect upon their cognition, pedagogical practices, and working contexts and the need for introducing recommended models of L2 writing instruction in tertiary institutions.
  • Learning Strategies and Teaching Methods in Thai and Vietnamese Universities
    The main purpose of this research is to investigate language learning strategy use of Vietnamese and Thai university students using Oxford's Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL). One main objective of the research was to compare different six aspects of language learning strategies (memory, cognitive, compensation, metacognitive, affective, and social) between Thai and Vietnamese students. The main research question was to learn about learning strategies Thai and Vietnamese university students used. The data of research were collected from 116 English major Thai university students and 174 English major Vietnamese students, using the SILL developed by Oxford (1990) as the instrument and interviews from 16 lecturers from Vietnam and Thailand. The findings revealed statistically significant differences in memory, cognitive, affective, and social strategies between Thai and Vietnamese students. The interview data were used to gain insight into the findings of the questionnaires. The findings of the research can be beneficial to teachers and educators who are involved in the education of both countries, providing better understanding of different aspects of language learning strategies used in learning English.
  • A Study on Vocabulary-Learning Problems Encountered by BA English Majors at the University Level of Education
    Proficiency in English language depends on the knowledge of its vocabulary possessed by the second and foreign language learners and even the native speakers. Though developing the vocabulary is vital, it poses several problems, especially, to non-native students of English. Students with a low vocabulary knowledge show weak academic performance in different courses related to the language skills, linguistics, literature, and translation at the university level of education. This study, in particular, aims to investigate the problems faced by English majors in learning the vocabulary at Prince Stattam bin Abdulaziz University (PSAU) in Saudi Arabia. It also puts forward some vocabulary-learning strategies to minimize the potential problems. The data consist of the responses of 100 student-participants (undergraduates) randomly picked up from five different levels (four, five, six, seven, and eight) of 4-Year BA English Program at PSAU. This quantitative study uses an online questionnaire, as an instrument, to collect the data. The results reveal that the English majors at PSAU face several problems in learning the vocabulary such as knowing the meanings of new words, pronouncing new words, using new words correctly, memorizing and spelling new vocabulary and so on. To its contribution, this study emphasizes the importance of learning the English vocabulary, draws students' attention towards it, highlights the problems encountered by students, and raises their awareness of the vocabulary. Future research may explore teachers' perspectives on students' vocabulary-learning problems and instructional methods implemented to teach the vocabulary in English language classrooms.
  • Cognitive Frames in Media Discourse: 'The Guardian' Coverage of the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Europe (2015-2019)
    The aim of the present paper is examining the mental representations activated by semantic networks in media discourse. It studies the cognitive frames that are mentally constructed and activated about illegal immigrants, in general, and Syrian refugees in particular. Any word class can evoke frames, but to limit the scope of analysis, Fairclough's socio-cultural approach is implemented to work out the experiential, relational and expressive values of only nouns and adjectives in media discourse. The corpus consists of articles released by The Guardian newspaper during and after the Syrian refugee crisis between 2015 and 2019. The results of the research show that cognitive frames are used to enhance the stereotypical categorizations of refugees as dislocated, uprooted and oppressed communities. This paper focuses on the mental mapping of such disadvantaged people and how they are categorized and presented in media discourse. It also analyses nouns and adjectives as generators or builders of cognitive frames in the human mind via discourse. This study is original because it relates semantic networks, mental lexicon and cognitive frames to analyze media discourse.
  • Morphological Awareness and Vocabulary Knowledge among English Language Learners
    This study aims to tackle an answer to the main question; if there is a relationship between the vocabulary size of adult English language learners and their morphological awareness and if their performance would differ in word complexity. The participants were 90 senior BA English Language and Literature students from Jordanian universities. The two empirical research tools were the Vocabulary Size Test and Morphological Awareness Test. The results revealed the mid-frequent level vocabulary size of the participants, and they were unable to form and use new words using morphemes. A positive correlation between the vocabulary size of the participants and their morphological awareness existed. Besides, a positive relationship existed between their performance on word complexity and their morphological knowledge. Pedagogical solutions need to be implanted in English as a Second Language (ESL)/ English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes.
  • The Writing Center's Role in the Academic Life of an English Foreign Language Student from an Instructor's Perspective
    The English Writing Center (WC) has recently become a writing support service in selective Lebanese universities even though it has been a common practice in Western universities for the last twenty years. The article from a university instructor's experience aims to bring forward the reasons the WC at Lebanese universities is slowly attracting students to its provided practices and how disciplinary instructors amongst other socio-cultural factors are contributing towards students misconceptions of the WC philosophy and services. The article first introduces the profile of the Lebanese university English as a foreign language (EFL) student to provide a background on their English language level of proficiency and expectations from the WC tutors and the misguided understanding of the WC philosophies and framework practices that are opposing students' expectations from the WC; and continues to construct the need for the WC to re-evaluate its current writing pedagogy and process between tutor and student. The article concludes by discussing the negotiated roles WC tutors, disciplinary instructors and faculty management should take in order to transfer students' misconception of the WC aims and objectives and to take responsibility for their writing.
  • Opportunities and Questions: A Short Report on Rubric Assessments in Asia and the Middle East
    This qualitative short report considers the viability of the use of rubrics or alternative methods to assess writing in Asia and the Middle East. The background of learning theories, assessment types, and self-assessment literature provides a foundation for further discussion of the appropriate use of rubrics, including the prioritization of criterion, the quality of scoring, the impact of organizational features on scoring, the influence of bias, and the best application of rubric assessment. Relevant points for further study are identified, such as differentiation in research between generalized analytical rating systems and rubric assessment with specific, empirical criterion. The contradictory research regarding the advantages and disadvantages of rubric assessment in comparison with holistic assessment are of particular and crucial interest for global pedagogy. Many of the reviewed Western articles excluded Asian perspectives- except for China- and thus present a limited understanding of social and educational compatibility with new assessments and rubric assessments in particular. The discussion identifies patterns and points of contention and seeks to explore viewpoints rather than limit the scope of inquiry and consideration thus noting that relevant literature suggests that with appropriate teacher training, teachers may appropriately use rubrics as a formative assessment tool for writing in Asia and the Middle East.
  • An Analysis of the Relationship among Teacher Feedback, Feedforward, and Grade on Swedish University Students' Compositions in English as a Second Language
    In the present study, with the aim of analyzing the relationship among teacher feedback, feedforward, and grade, the corrections and comments made by four experienced assessors on 187 compositions were under scrutiny. These essays were written by 56 Swedish university students studying English as a second language at three different educational levels. The results reveal that while there were clear links between mid-essay corrections/comments and grades given, the links between mid-essay corrections/comments and end comments were not only comparatively few, but less clear. Moreover, although valued highly in the research literature because of their ability to promote writing skills in an enhanced manner, there were more summative end comments than formative ones. The conclusion was, therefore, drawn that it is quite taxing for assessors, even for experienced ones, to produce connections that involve an alignment among a) mid-essay corrections/comments, b) end comments and c) grade that will, at the same time, promote students' writing skills in accordance with what is suggested by the research literature. The assessors were, however, irrespective of grade given, attuned to the educational level at hand, focusing more on analytic aspects at the two lower levels, while taking a more holistic approach at the highest educational level. This may indicate that offering corrections/comments does not only entail a developmental journey for students, but for teachers too.
  • Indigenous Communities and Social Enterprise in Canada
    This article seeks to understand Indigenous social enterprise in a "current state snapshot" and in a complex historical context. Specifically, the authors begin by placing into theoretical context social enterprises serving Indigenous communities. The framework for Indigenous social enterprise is related to theories of Indigenous entrepreneurship and "quadruple bottom line" organizations. The authors explain the role of culture as an under-researched element and as a critical component of Indigenous social enterprise. The article also highlights gender leadership of social enterprise in Indigenous communities. Finally, the article provides three case studies that exemplify Indigenous social enterprise in Canada.
  • Rethinking universalism: Older-age international migrants and social pensions in Latin America and the Caribbean
    This article criticises the social policy literature for equating universalism to the universal coverage of citizens. The current so-called 'universal' social protection systems guarantee social citizen rights, while the revisited truly universalism guarantees social human rights for everyone. Crisp-set qualitative comparative analysis (csQCA) is used to map and track the level of exclusiveness or inclusiveness into social pensions in the existing 30 social pension programmes on 28 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries. The article examines the various paths of eligibility requirements in social pensions conditioning three specific outcomes: (1) access for every older-age individual (truly universal), (2) access for every category of immigrant (no targeting by citizenship or residency) and (3) access for older-age immigrants with legal resident status (targeting by residency but not by citizenship). The research makes several contributions. First, it offers a useful inventory of the eligibility requirements for access to the 30 social pensions in LAC. Second, it proposes an analytical framework to redefine universalism after considering the migration-social policy nexus. Contrary to what the literature claims, there are no universal social pensions in the region. Third, the analysis indicates that only in two countries, Cuba and Jamaica, social pensions have immigrant-friendly targeting rules, requiring neither citizenship nor any length of residency to become a beneficiary. A total of 12 countries require citizenship and 24 of them a certain number of years of residency. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of social pensions are means-tested. Finally, the csQCA allows identifying patterns of targeting mechanisms and is used to propose five exploratory regimes of inclusionary social pensions. The article calls for protected international mobility of the older-age population in the form of a truly universalistic system in which the entire aged population has the right to a social pension. Only then, countries would truly adhere to Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • To walk on the Penrose stairs of science
    How we have learnt to overcome our shortcomings, face our fears, and grow as competent researchers in the harsh academic world. Published in Behavioural and Social Sciences at Nature Research
  • Twitter "Hashjacked": Online Polarisation Strategies of Germany's Political Far-Right
    With a network approach, we examine the case of the German far-right party Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) and their potential use of a "hashjacking" strategy - the use of someone else's hashtag in order to promote one's own social media agenda. Our findings suggest that right-wing politicians (and their supporters/retweeters) actively and effectively polarise the discourse not just by using their own party hashtags, but also by "hashjacking" the political party hashtags of other established parties. The results underline the necessity to understand the success of right-wing parties, online and in elections, not entirely as a result of external effects (e.g. migration), but as a direct consequence of their digital political communication strategy.
  • The Neolithic Revolution - Domestication of Plants explained
    This paper is written to question the widespread belief among anthropologists that prehistoric hunter gatherers knew about agriculture long before agriculture began to be practised. The paper suggests gradually accumulating human knowledge led to the development of agriculture rather than population pressure, favourable mutations or convenient climate, all of which would have occurred at various times long before agriculture began, without leading to the discovery of agriculture.
  • The Invention of the Steam Engine
    This paper was written in order to examine the conditions needed, and the order of the discoveries made, for the invention of the steam engine. There were a number of conditions necessary for the invention of the steam engine. A vital one was the presence of a need, initially that of how to get water out of mines and later how to drive the new machinery that was being produced as part of the industrial revolution. But needs are common and they are not always met. The reasons why those needs were met was due to the scientific progress that was going on in 16th and 17th century Europe concerning the knowledge of atmospheric pressure, how to create vacuums and of the properties of gases. Allied to this scientific progress was a belief in Europe at the time that progress could be made and problems could be solved. The inventors at the time applied scientific knowledge to solving the problems that existed and after long periods of trial and error, including the development of new and better materials, were able to produce a working steam engine. Crucial to the progress made by the inventors was the diffusion of scientific and engineering knowledge which enabled them to build on each other's work. The earlier development of printing was important to the diffusion process and the role of organizations such as the Royal Society was also important.
  • Learning About Internal Migration from Half a Billion Records - Applying Localised Classification Trees to Large-Scale Census Data
    Understanding who migrates is crucial in explaining societal changes and forecasting future population composition and size. However, there is no empirical consensus on demographic and socioeconomic factors driving migration decision. Exploiting micro census data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series International (IPUMSI) database across 65 countries over the period 1960 to 2012 covering 477,296,432 individual records, this study aims to establish common demographic drivers of migration. Given an exceptionally large number of observations, a parametric approach would simply yield bias estimates of standard errors of the variables of interest. We apply a machine learning technique using decision tree models to establish common demographic patterns driving migration in our data. The decision trees are applied to each country year sample individually in order to control for local optima. Resulting feature selections are compared across countries and years. We find that globally, age, education, household size, and urbanisation are important drivers of internal migration. Age and education are particularly important predictors in Europe and Northern America whilst in South and Central America and Africa, urbanisation and household size are more relevant. The applied method of localised decision trees could be a helpful tool for analysing large-scale census data in other social science domains.
  • What Motivates Innovative Entrepreneurs? Evidence from Three Field Experiments
    Entrepreneurial motivation is central for the process of economic growth. However, evidence on the motivations of innovative entrepreneurs, and how those motivations differ across fundamental characteristics, remains scant. We conduct three field experiments with the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge to study how innovative entrepreneurs respond to messages of money and social impact, and how this varies across gender and culture. We find consistent evidence that women and individuals located in more altruistic cultures are more motivated by social impact messages than money, while men and those in less altruistic cultures are more motivated by money than social impact. The estimates are not driven by differences in the type of company, its size, or other observable characteristics, but instead appear to come from differences in the underlying motivations of innovative entrepreneurs themselves.
  • Evolving public institutions that foster cooperation
    Humans usually consider altruism a moral good, and they condition their social behavior on the moral reputations of others. Indirect reciprocity explains how social norms and moral reputations can collectively support large-scale cooperation: members of the society cooperate who others who are considered good. But the theory of indirect reciprocity does not explain how the requisite institutions that monitor and broadcast moral reputations themselves evolve. Here we study the emergence of public monitoring in societies where individuals are, at first, independently responsible for evaluating the moral reputations of their peers. We show that public institutions of moral assessment that promote cooperation can evolve under all simple social norms, depending upon the institution's tolerance to occasional antisocial behavior. Public monitoring serves to eliminate disagreements about reputations in the population, which in turn increases cooperation and individual payoffs -- and so the tendency to adhere to a public institution can evolve by social contagion. Moreover, the resulting public institution is then robust to invasion or collapse. We also show how institutions can be designed to dramatically increase cooperation rates, even for social norms that previous studies found to perform poorly. Our results help explain why societies tend to elect centralized institutions to provide top-down moral governance of their individual behavior.
  • An Exploration of Wikipedia Data as a Measure of Regional Knowledge Distribution
    In today's economies, knowledge is the key ingredient for prosperity. However, it is hard to measure this intangible asset appropriately. Standard economic models mostly rely on common measures such as enrollment rates and international test scores. However, these proxies focus rather on the quality of education of pupils than on the distribution of knowledge among the whole population, which is increasingly defined by alternative sources of education such as online learning platforms. As a consequence, the economically relevant stock of knowledge in a region is only roughly approximated. Furthermore, they are abstract in content, and both capital-, and time-consuming in census. This paper proposes to explore Wikipedia data as an alternative source of capturing the knowledge distribution on a narrow geographical scale. Wikipedia is by far the largest digital encyclopedia worldwide and provides data on usage and editing publicly. We com- pare Wikipedia usage worldwide and edits in the U. S. to existing measures of the acquisition and stock of knowledge. The results indicate that there is a significant correlation between Wikipedia interactions and knowledge approximations on different geographical scales. Considering these results, it seems promising to further explore Wikipedia data to develop a reliable, inexpensive, and real-time proxy of knowledge distribution around the world.