Finding Vocabulary Resources on the Internet

By Rob Waring October 2001

This page describes some of the ways in which you may find information relevant to your research.

Looking for references to articles and books.

There are many places that you can look for references to work that you want to read. The most obvious are the two vocabulary resource databases. One is maintained by myself which currently has 29000 references to vocabulary and the other is maintained by Paul Meara with his varga lists. Both are freely downloadable. It is recommended that you consider putting them in a database so you can search them quicker and more effectively. Details how to do this are here.

Several organizations provide online searchable facilities which you can use to find references to articles on the Internet. They do not provide the article, only a reference to it. Often there is an abstract as well. So if you find a reference you like in either Paul's or my databases and want to know more about it, look at these places and they may have an abstract that can tell you if you need to source it. The major ones are ERIC and ERIC Digests, Psychlit, PSYCHInfo, and the MLA databases (avaliable on CD at many libraries), Dissertations Abstract International . If you are in Swansea you can search many of them on CD. UMI have over a million dissertations that can be searched and purchased (they say). ERIC also has several thousand articles you can buy that have been abstracted.

There are other ways to automatically find references to articles that you want. End Note is a searchable database that keeps references in one file. It is also internet capable and can search major libraries for references to work in your area. There's a demo version available for mac and windows. The full version is about £65 to students.

If you have read an article by someone and want to find who is discussing it then in your own library dig out the Social Sciences Citation Index and choose your author by year. You can find who has been citing your favourite author. It's a good way to find who is working in the same area as the article you have already read.

What do you do when you have found reference, but its not in your library?

The following page has links to most of the online journals.

The first thing to do is find where it is. Sometimes you can find the complete article on the internet. Many of the major journal publishers provide abstracts of articles, and even sometimes the articles themselves on the internet. Here is a list of the major publishers which you can look through. If its a book and you need to buy it, there is no better place to look than

The British Library is available at and is searchable to see if the article or book is there. You cannot borrow directly, but if you may use it for interlibrary loans (not to go outside the UK).

The University of London Index of where the serials (journals) are in London is also searchable.

Looking for software


The best place to look for dictionaries of just about any persuasion is


Word lists

See the word lists page on this site.

Text comparions

Paul Nation's Vocab Profiler is available at Paul Nation has written a utility which reads any ASCII text and compares it with three lists, reporting which words in the text occurred in any of the lists or in none of them. This is of obvious value in checking how accessible a text or an exam question or an instruction booklet is, in comparing texts, and for other purposes.

Vocabulary Research software

There is no better place to start than The Summer Institute of Linguistics has a HUGE store of linguistic word lists and computer programs It is the best!

WordSmith is a program (PC only) that allows you to create concordances, allows the splitting of texts into two files, and a whole host of other tasks. A demo version is avalable.

Conc is a free concordancer for the macintosh

MacFL - The Foreign Language Page for Mac Users

Links to text analysis software (by Harald Klein)

Online dictionaries

The Institute for Language, Speech and Hearing

UMich has a large store of lexical stuff

Centre for English Corpus Linguistics (CECL) has some stuff on corpus linguistics.