One of the main aims of the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics is to create a pioneering forensic linguistics resource, named the Forensic Linguistic Databank (FoLD). This databank will be a global precedent, providing a permanent, controlled access online repository for malicious communication data, investigative interview data, and forensic evidence validation data for both speech and text. FoLD will thus comprise a wide range of data sets with relevance to forensic linguistics, including commercial extortion letters under the umbrella of, investigative interviews in police and other contexts, legal documents, forum posts from far-right online groups, and comment threads from political blogs.

The intention for the databank is to not only further academic research into forensic linguistics by developing new methods and approaches but also to directly contribute to impact in assisting the delivery of justice. Therefore, research projects using this data will validate methods for forensic analysis, further the effectiveness of interviewing techniques used by British police, and help tackle internet crime and abuse on behalf of law enforcement beneficiaries, such as the National Crime Agency.



Directors, Academic and Research Staff


Constructional complexity of lay legal language
Dr Lucia Busso will use an ad-hoc collected corpus of Italian and English lay legal texts to analyze linguistic complexity across two languages and examine how this relates to comprehensibility. Using Construction Grammar as a framework, she will investigate constructional complexity using both ecological corpus-based data and psycholinguistic experimental settings.
Trolling accusations and online hate speech
Dr Márton Petykó will run a corpus study examining trolling accusations as a potential indicator of hate speech and harassment in British and Hungarian online political discussions. This project draws on two existing corpora and will involve a metapragmatic analysis of the trolling accusation comments and the alleged trolls’ comments.
Applying linguistic research in professional settings
This project will look at practical and ethical challenges encountered by applied linguistic researchers in three contexts (legal, medical and business settings), conducting case studies with researchers and identifying key commonalities. Dr Sarah Atkins will compile an overview of current practices, contributing to FoLD policies and guidelines at the Institute.