Written threat analysis

Research Institution / Organisation

Cardiff University

Principal Researcher

Jim Shaw

Level of Research


Project Start Date

September 2015

Research Context

  1. How can a multi-dimensional analysis assist in the evaluation of written threat texts from a sociolinguistic perspective?
  2. To what extent does such analysis improve upon existing techniques in authorship analysis, both from an evidential, and an intelligence gathering point of view?

Research Methodology

‚ÄčThe subject of written threats has not been subjected to a forensic analysis from a multi-dimensional point of view, nor has it been examined for individual style within such a framework. The benefits of this could include an ability to detect sociolinguistic patterns - such as relative dating (particularly in relation to multiple threats), age profiling, location detection (in respect of areas of origin), social strata, gender, and authorship analysis (AUA) itself.


The multi-dimensional analysis framework (MDA) has the ability to analyse such written text, and assist in realising these benefits.


Such an assertion is made because the MDA consists of five scales which are able to separate out the relative differences between narrative and expository text, involved versus informational text, persuasive versus non persuasive text, explicit versus situation dependent text, and abstract versus non abstract text.


In this manner, the individual characteristics of specific authors could be mapped for the sociolinguistic features already described. It is also quite probable that once the full characteristics of known authors have been mapped, further sociolinguistic comparisons could be made. For example, those authors who have knowledge of forensic techniques might deliberately try to conceal their natural style of writing. This could potentially be revealed once the MDA has been completed on those texts, when compared with what would be expected from a text where the author has no knowledge of such techniques.


The research could be of immense forensic potential for its use as a law enforcement tool, either as an intelligence asset, of evidential value, or both.

Interim reports and publications

‚ÄčNot available

Date due for completion

September 2020
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