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Teaching Students Better Online Research Skills

Teaching Students Better Online Research Skills | digital literacy | Scoop.it
Many educators are explicitly teaching online research skills, such as how to evaluate a website's credibility, how to use precise keywords, and how to better mine search engines.

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Suesspiciousminds about forensic linguistics

A discussion of the Court of Protection case of PS v LP 2013  http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/COP/2013/1106.html   An interesting case – I don’t cover Court of Protection stuff as often as...

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Tim Grant's curator insight, May 7, 2013 3:59 PM

A Google alert just threw up this fascinating blog from "Suesspiciousminds" (good name!).  

 

The blog post contains a discussion of a recent Court of Protection case at Birmingham County Court.  Court of Protection cases involve vulnerable individuals (adults or children) and so routinely use witnesses’ initials rather than full names - I hadn't realised before that this also extends to expert witnesses.  This case however uses forensic linguistic evidence of Professor C,  Emeritus Professor of forensic linguistics from Aston University and Professor PJ of Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA.  I’m not sure if it would be Contempt of Court for me to name these individuals, but forensic linguistics is a small world and those in the know will be in the know, and for everyone else there’s Google.

 

The case concerns the authorship of a disputed will and Suesspiciousminds’ write up is worth the full read.  The judgement is also linked to at the top of his page and you should read that too. 

 

Three points of the case and Suesspiciousminds’ write-up particularly leapt out at me.

 

 

 

First, Professor C’s conclusion, as cited by the judge, was cautious.  Prof C is one of the world's most experienced expert witnesses in the field of forensic linguistics and his opinions have been upheld at the Court of Appeal as being appropriately cautious.  His caution however, leaves the judge saying (at para 63)  

 

“he is much more cautious than Professor PJ and Professor PJ’s evidence, is therefore, the more important.”

 

This judicial opinion in and of itself interests me.  I’ve heard lawyers in the past describe someone as a "good" witness meaning that that witness had a high degree of certainty in their evidence.  As a practicing forensic linguist I wouldn’t view a higher level of certainty as making evidence "more important" or "good" and I’m happy to assume the intelligence and competence of the judge, so this leaves me feeling that the legal view of evidence as being “good” or “important” must have a some slightly slippery, technical, legal meaning that I’m not grasping. 

 

If you’ve got any thoughts on this do get in touch…

 

 

 

Second, there is a discussion of Prof PJ’s method.  Suesspiciousminds’ discussion of this evidence raises issues that I’ve argued for years.  Forensic authorship analysis work, I feel, should not depend on heavily computational, black box approaches, (no matter how sophisticated nor how low the published error rates in research articles).  For me, forensic evidence requires appropriate caution and explanation of results.  The computational systems, however good, cannot answer the range of Suesspiciousminds’ questions (and further questions I might add), but more importantly (and as a matter of principle) neither can Prof PJ. My feeling is that this kind of evidence cannot be properly interrogated and therefore is not strong evidence.

 

Once again I’d be interested in your views?

 

 

 

Finally, although by no means the final point of interest in the post or the judgement, we come to para 92.  The judge is concerned about 

 

“a slightly worrying aspect of Professor PJ’s evidence which to an extent affects its standing; that is, the manner in which he had become involved. In saying this I make no criticism of the solicitor or counsel for PS. The letter of instructions was perfectly proper. But in evidence Professor PJ agreed he had accepted instructions as a favour to Professor C, whose conclusions, as I have set out, are somewhat uncertain.”

 

This concern, in and of itself, leads the judge to view Prof PJs evidence with some caution.  I’m guessing that from Prof C’s perspective, he probably thought that involving an alternative practitioner, with very different methods to his own, might provide valuable additional information to the Court.  Such is the collegiate ethos of the Academy at its best, and I might have done the same.  The professionally jaundiced eye of the Court views such co-operation differently.

 

The IAFL is about to publish its draft code of conduct and, from memory, I don’t think it touches on such potential ‘conflicts’ of one expert identifying and involving a second expert in a case…

 

 

 

So a longer than typical post from me about an even longer post from Suesspiciousminds’ but I hope well worth the read…

 

 

Tim Grant's comment, May 9, 2013 4:17 AM
For those of you interested in this there's now a bit of discussion at the bottom of Suesspiciousminds' blog.
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Bolton Sixth Form College: The Springboard Project | Excellence Gateway

Bolton Sixth Form College: The Springboard Project | Excellence Gateway | digital literacy | Scoop.it

Mishka Fielding, Learning Resources Manager with the help of Anthony Beal, e-Learning Adviser, RSC Northwest, created a one-hour interactive session to promote Learning Resources and Information Literacy to staff and students within the College. These sessions successfully promoted the department, increasing their stock circulation by 50% and their usage of e-books, putting them 1st out of 200 in the ‘Jisc Collections Project’.


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Social Media and Higher Education - Tips for Success and Who's doing It Right

Social Media and Higher Education - Tips for Success and Who's doing It Right | digital literacy | Scoop.it
Social Media and Higher Education – Tips for Success and Who’s Doing It Right http://t.co/1cVrGdOmLa
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Lie to you? Forensic linguist, Dr Georgina Heydon, to feature @Law Week

Lie to you? Forensic linguist, Dr Georgina Heydon, to feature @Law Week | digital literacy | Scoop.it
Forensic linguist, Dr Georgina Heydon, will speak at Sisters in Crime annual Law Week event, this year entitled “Slips of the tongue (& pen): How forensic linguistics is transforming crime

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Tim Grant's curator insight, May 15, 2013 4:30 AM

I'm unsure if LSL has any Australian readers, but Georgina is always good to listen to, so this should be a good event if you're in the Melbourne area.

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Bolton Sixth Form College: The Springboard Project | Excellence Gateway

Bolton Sixth Form College: The Springboard Project | Excellence Gateway | digital literacy | Scoop.it

Mishka Fielding, Learning Resources Manager with the help of Anthony Beal, e-Learning Adviser, RSC Northwest, created a one-hour interactive session to promote Learning Resources and Information Literacy to staff and students within the College. These sessions successfully promoted the department, increasing their stock circulation by 50% and their usage of e-books, putting them 1st out of 200 in the ‘Jisc Collections Project’.


Via Anthony Beal
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