Forensic Linguistics Databank
In addition to these Research Centres within the Institute we are also creating a substantial new resource for forensic linguistic research and will make it accessible, with proper controls to academic researchers from around the world. We are also developing a new online corpus of malicious communications called TextCrimes.
The Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL) was founded in 2019. It is a substantial expansion of the former Aston Centre for Forensic Linguistics that was founded in 2008 and in the autumn of 2019 we appointed a total of 15 new staff to establish the Institute. This expansion was funded via a £6M investment including a £5.4M award from Research England’s Expanding Excellence in England (E3) fund. The research staff are organised into teams representing:
The Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics hosts wide and varied events, intending to build upon a history of collaboration between academic researchers, professionals and society. Events range from weekly ‘topic-specific seminars’, through to an annual conference, with the key aim to improve the delivery of justice through the analysis of language. Our events are free and open to the public unless specified otherwise.
Find out more about our upcoming events and past events.
The mission of the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics is to improve the delivery of justice through the analysis of language.
Our research is always Excellent. It is often Collaborative, in terms of working with beneficiaries, research and higher education institutions and across disciplinary boundaries. It is always Impactful with a view to creating real insight within the broader justice system, often leading to change of policy and practice. Additionally, through the creation of the University Research Institute our research will become more Sustainable – we have ambitious targets to win further research funds to expand forensic linguistic capability for the UK and the international community. We aim to build a globally significant hub for forensic linguistics research.
We work rigorously to develop and validate methods and to remain true to linguistics and speech science as disciplinary areas. We examine the justice system with a critical eye using the various tools and approaches available within contemporary linguistics and speech science. We will propose evidence-based changes to improve the delivery of justice in areas such as police interviewing of suspects and witnesses and drafting of legal texts. Where we develop methods for the evaluation of forensic science these methods will look to be rigorous and objective and in criminal cases we will help acquit the innocent and convict the guilty.
Members of the Institute teach the undergraduate courses “Language and Law” and “Language as Evidence”.
We run a one-year Master of Arts in Forensic Linguistics programme.
Potential PhD students should in the first instance make enquiries with the Aston academic staff member with whom they are interested in working. Note that only members with the rank of Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Associate Professor, or Professor can supervise PhD students.
Continued Professional Development
Members of the Institute have substantial experience in providing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training for lawyers, law enforcement investigators, and forensic scientists. This includes open CPD events, and tailored training delivered to law enforcement agencies, government departments, and commercial organisations. Please contact us if you want training tailored to your needs.
Topics we offer training on include:
- General forensic linguistics
- Interpreter-mediated interviewing
- Linguistic investigative skills
- Online identity assumption for undercover police officers
- Forensic speech science
- Forensic inference and statistics
Casework and Consulting
The Institute itself does not conduct casework; however, members of the Institute conduct investigative and evidential casework in the civil and criminal courts in multiple jurisdictions around the world. Our research informs our casework activity, and our casework experience informs our research and teaching.
Members of the Institute also take part in non-casework consulting. This includes advising commercial security organisations, lawyers, and HR departments about risks management.