The Lexical Studies Research Group – formerly the Vocabulary Acquisition Research Group (VARG) – was founded by Paul Meara in 1991. It is now convened by Tess Fitzpatrick and Cornelia Tschichold at Swansea University, and supported by a team of researchers and supervisors including Alison Wray and Dawn Knight at Cardiff University, and Paul Meara in an emeritus role at Swansea.

The Lexical Studies Research Group brings together members of staff, postgraduate students and affiliated researchers who work in the broad areas of lexical research and lexical perspectives on language issues.  Specific interests of the group include
•    vocabulary processing
•    assessment of vocabulary knowledge
•    second language lexical acquisition
•    vocabulary-focussed CALL (computer assisted language learning)
•    using word association approaches to investigate the lexicon
•    lexical acquisition and attrition in L1 or L2
•    lexical features of communication disorders
•    corpus linguistics
•    formulaic language
•    the lexical/syntax interface
•    use of vocabulary in health care settings

Postgraduate researchers are at the heart of this research group: the Distance-learning part-time PhD in Applied Linguistics (Lexical Studies) has been running for thirty years at Swansea, and its graduates have contributed significantly to vocabulary research at an international level, many now working in senior university posts across the world. Those former students remain part of the Group’s ‘virtual network’ Group, along with vocabulary researchers with nascent or established reputations in vocabulary studies, and current students.

The PhD programme in Applied Linguistics (Lexical Studies) at Swansea is designed specifically to meet the needs of part-time, distance-learning students. The programme attracts students with professional practitioner experience and with an interest in vocabulary research, and this common focus has enabled us to build a strong research group with shared interests and a rich bank of source materials and research tools. The PhD programme is structured in its approach, enabling students to build their thesis incrementally, through empirical studies and critical analyses.

There are two key platforms supporting active information exchange and generation of new knowledge within the Group. First, the Group holds an annual conference in the UK, which is attended by current students and supervisors, former and prospective students, and scholars with an interest in vocabulary research. Every conference includes a guest speaker – someone producing influential and important work in the field – and students from cognate research groups in other universities. Guest speakers in recent years have included Jessica Briggs, Tony Clark, Averil Coxhead, Patrick Hanks, Birgit Henriksen, Michael McCarthy, Emma Marsden, Ana Pellicer-Sánchez, Paul Rayson, Leah Roberts, Jason Rothman, and Parvaneh Tavakoli. The second communication platform is a regular newsletter, containing news of conferences, publications, quotes, webpages and profile pieces that are of relevance to lexical research.

The Lexical Studies Research Group has recently supported and conducted research projects on topics including
•    pedagogical wordlists;
•    innovative techniques for lexical investigation using word association;
•    vocabulary knowledge tests, and methods for evaluating these
•    interpretations and responses to words used in cancer clinics