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Advice to Contributors

Types of report and study

Case study: the case has gone to court and the linguist has been examined and cross-examined (or was available for cross-examination but was not cross-examined) as to his/her views. The case must be concluded before a case study can be submitted.
Court submission: the case has gone to court, the linguist's report was submitted, but the linguist was not called to give evidence (e.g. if the linguist's report was not challenged by the non-commissioning legal team);
Legal submission: the case may or may not have gone to court, but the linguist's work was not submitted;
Dialogue: The linguist submits a technique, hypothesis or theory for comparison or argues for or against an existing technique or idea;
Work in progress: The linguist wishes to report a work in progress. This may encapsulate work in several cases where the linguist proposed a particular approach or hypothesis.

Please make clear which type of submission you are making, i.e. Case Study, Court Submission, Legal Submission, Dialogue or Work in Progress. It is important that those who read FLW documents must be in no doubt as to the status of what they are reading. A case study will necessarily have more weight than a court submission or a legal submission.

NOTE: Please do not under any circumstances submit work in a case which is pending, or which is likely to go to appeal. A declaration will have to be completed with every submission.

This is not a peer-reviewed journal, but contributions will be viewed by editors before posting. We describe it as a 'peer-monitored' review. The aim is not just to cite specific cases but to demonstrate ways in which forensic linguistics is used, both in court and at the investigative stage. The focus is on the linguistics, not on the individuals or places where offences may have occurred. Reports should be given in an anonymous form. Please look at the reports section for examples.

Please observe the following:

  • Use invented names for victims of crime. Unless the case is exceptional, it is preferable not to name victims.
  • It is not the intention of the Works to point the finger of blame at individuals. Therefore, please also anonymise all other participants.
  • In addition to anonymising individuals, please also generalise place names, e.g. do not name a town which would then enable someone to identify a specific case.
  • The aim is not to promote any single linguist or to promote any one particular methodology or institution. Rather, it is to open up topics for broad debate in the forensic linguistic and legal communities. Therefore, reports and other documents should be written in the third person, e.g. 'The linguist in the case was commissioned to....', 'The linguist was asked whether...', etc. However, reports need to be signed, and hence readers may infer which linguist is referred to.

In the case of a dispute between two linguists or attorneys, please observe a neutral, non-partisan tone. Offensive or derogatory remarks will not be published. Vigorous defence of one's own point of view is of course acceptable, but we should avoid aggression.

The style should be academic, but accessible to readers of all types. Please try to avoid lengthy hedges, such as 'it seems possible that', or 'one might infer', etc. Try to state your case simply. 'The linguist believed that', '...took the view that...', etc.

If you wish to cite case law, please quote references in the conventional manner, e.g.: Grobbelaar v. News Group Newspapers Ltd [2001] EWCA Civ 1213.


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