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RefNet is a research network, funded by EPSRC from 2012 till March 2016, which aimed to advance collaboration between computer scientists, psychologists, and other cognitive scientists. For concreteness, the network has focussed on reference, a key phenomenon in language and communication. A summary of the main activities organised by RefNet can be found on our Events page.


Reference is the process of making sure that a user/receiver can identify an entity – for example a person, thing, place, or an event. Reference can be considered the “anchor” of communication. As such it is crucial for communication between people, and for many practical applications: from robotics and gaming to embodied agents, satellite navigation, and multimodal interfaces. Through the study of reference, RefNet will build a base of interdisciplinary skills and resources for research on communication.


RefNet’s objectives were:

1. To promote high-quality interdisciplinary research, and research resources relating to reference, particularly involving computational linguistics and psycholinguistics.

2. To find ways to improve practical applications in which reference plays a role

3. To build skills for the interdisciplinary study of language and communication.


To achieve these objectives, RefNet has organized activities that support networking, consultations, training, and showcasing of research. A lot of published research has benefitted substantially from these activities and the (often cross-disciplinary) links that were created as a result. (See Publications page.)


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Page last updated on: 24 Aug 2013