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Peer Review

ARTFL Project



Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Feb 28, 2002 by World Languages Editorial Board
Overview: Hosted at the University of Chicago, the ARTFL Project (The Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language) is a searchable database of more than 2000 texts which form the reference works for the Tresor de la langue francaise. It is a cooperative enterprise of Analyses et Traitements Informatiques du Lexique Francais (ATILF) of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Division of the Humanities, the Division of the Social Sciences, and Electronic Text Services (ETS) of the University of Chicago.

The texts in ARTFL range from the 13th to the 20th century and cover subjects such as literature, philosophy, arts, economics and sciences. ARTFL also features as separate collections: L'Encyclopedie des arts et des sciences by Diderot and d'Alembert, French Women Writers from the 16th to the 20th century, Provencal Poetry and several other sections. ARTFL also offers a number of reference resources in open access: e.g. Bayle's Dictionnaire historique et critique, French-English Dictionary, Morphological Analysis Using the INFL Analyzer and Verb Conjugation Using the INFL Analyzer.

While some sections of the ARTFL project are free, full use of the website's major feature, i.e. the searchable databases, is restricted to subscribing institutions. The cost is $250 annually for institutions not granting the Ph. D. in the Humanities and Social Sciences and $500.00 for those granting the Ph.D. At this moment, more than 200 colleges and universities mostly in the U.S. and Canada are subscribing (see:
Type of Material: Collection
Identify Major Learning Goals: To provide reference materials and a searchable database on topics of interest to students of French language, literature and civilization.
Target Student Population: Students of French language, literature and civilization
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Intermediate and above reading proficiency in French.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: ARTFL is the most extensive and reliable tool that currently exists to search word occurrences in French literary and non-literary texts from the Middle Ages to the present. It is commendable for the breath of its corpus, the variety of genres and the time period it encompasses. The texts have been carefully captured and misspelled words are rare, although users must be aware that they sometimes do occur.
Perhaps one of the most frequently-used resources is the French-English Dictionary Form, a simple French-English Dictionary containing about 75,000 terms. Also open to the public, Pierre Bayle's Dictionnaire historique et critique,published in 1740, is scanned in its entirety and searchable by volume or by article keyword.
For students of French history, there is a collection of over 100 pamphlets and periodicals from the French Revolution, dating from 1848 to 1851. Access to these scanned documents gives the student a unique experience of the Revolutionary period.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The ARTFL Project makes an excellent resource for college students and teachers. It can be used in the classroom to show various meanings of a word, its first use and the changes of its meaning, to find quotations or study the history of a concept. Students will find it a quick and easy-to-use reference for bibliographical and writing purposes.

The French-English Dictionary Form is a convenient reference tool for students as they prepare their French writing assignments. It is very convenient to keep it open while using a word processor to complete an assignment.
Both the Bayle Dictionary and the Revolutionary pamphlets can be used effectively in the classroom by projecting their pages on a large screen and going through them in class. The self-directed learner will find both resources useful for research purposes.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: ARTFL is rather straightforward: it is mainly a searchable database. Consistent design of all pages and sections ensures easy navigation. Even though the search form may not appear intuitive at first look, examples and a handbook provided on the same screen make the first search in the database an easy ride. There are ample instructions and constant updates as new features are added to ARTFL.
Concerns: It may take some time to be able to fully utilize "PhiloLogic", the ARTFL search system.