Paul Meara was a founder member of the Department of Applied Linguistics at Birkbeck College, London University, where he worked from 1973-1990.

In 1990 he moved to Swansea University, where he set up an innovative distance learning PhD program specialising in L2 vocabulary research. He retired from Swansea in 2009.

Paul is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Within the department, he works with Prof Victoria Murphy to develop research training for post graduate students.


Paul’s current research is mainly concerned with developing computational models of how people acquire words and how they lose their lexical skills as they grow older. He is particularly interested in the emergent properties of lexical models with minimal assumptions.

He runs a number of small projects that apply bibliometric methods to the corpus of research in applied linguistics. These projects are mainly concerned with evaluating the main historical trends in applied linguistics research, and with identifying new research fronts at an early stage.

Paul also works with colleagues in Cardiff and Swansea to develop research resources for the Welsh Government’s Welsh for Adults programme. This work is currently focussed on establishing a graded word list for Welsh L2 speakers.

Recent publications
  • Meara, P. (2022). Ground Zero: A bibliometric analysis of L2 vocabulary research 1986-1990. Linguistics Beyond and Within, 8, 133-151.
  • Meara, P. (2022). Modelling L2 vocabulary acquisition: The devil is in the detail. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 25 2022 226-227.
  • Meara, P . and Miralpeix, I. (2022) . Vocabulary Networks  Workshop 1: Introduction. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction 11,1(2022) , 17-34.
  • Meara, P and Miralpeix, I. (2022).  Vocabulary Networks Workshop 2: Activating words in a network. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction 11,1(2022), 35-52.