The Aston Lockdown Reading Survey Corpus


Creators: Boucher, Abigail ORCID logoORCID:, Giovanelli, Marcello ORCID logoORCID:, Harrison, Chloe ORCID logoORCID:, Love, Robbie ORCID logoORCID: and Caroline, Godfrey
Keywords: reading habits, COVID-19, pandemic, wellbeing, corpus linguistics, applied linguistics
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences and Humanities > English, Languages and Applied Linguistics
Data Publisher: Aston University
Date Made Available: 6 August 2023
Collection period:
1 July 202031 August 2020
Data Collection and Processing Methods: The Aston Lockdown Reading Survey Corpus arose from the Lockdown Library Project, a study of reading during the first UK COVID-19 lockdown, that was conducted by Aston University from 1st July - 31st August 2020. The survey addressed the following research questions: RQ1: How has the pandemic affected the quantity of books people are reading? RQ2: How has the pandemic influenced the type/genre of books people are reading? RQ3: How has the pandemic influenced people to return to previously read books? RQ4: How has the pandemic made people access and talk about books in new/different ways? We hosted the survey on and administered it through, distributing it via multiple social media channels, our own institution’s website and Call for Participants (, a platform that advertises academic research to the general public. The Aston Lockdown Reading Survey Corpus comprises all 858 (anonymised) responses to our survey, totalling c. 200,000 tokens. The corpus includes XML markup to capture the following metadata attributes: urn: Unique response number (URN), automatically assigned by the survey software respondent_id: Unique participant ID code corresponding to the URN, used in the reporting of individual responses age_range: Participant age category occupation: Participant occupation (uncategorised free text) gender: Participant gender identity (categorised free text) q_id: Survey question number q_type: Survey question type (open or closed) q_prompt: Survey question prompt text The corpus is made available as a freely-accessible resource, providing a unique insight into the ways in which the first UK COVID-19 lockdown affected public reading habits. A detailed description of the corpus and its analysis within the Lockdown Library Project is provided in Boucher et al. (2024) "Reading Habits in the Covid Pandemic: An Applied Linguistic Perspective".
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