Gathering data on allegations of sexual abuse made against former disc jockey, Jimmy Savile
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This paper will report on a collaboration between Social Work and Informatics academics and Library staff at the University. The focus of the work is to secure a data set on allegations of sexual abuse made against the former disc jockey, Jimmy Savile. The Savile case generated massive publicity; initial allegations led to what is claimed to be hundreds of others. Its reverberations have engulfed major institutions such as the BBC in controversy. Official reports label Savile a predatory paedophile and those making allegations against him victims. However, more questioning interpretations exist on the internet. The focus of our project is to secure a central source of such more questioning accounts, the blogging activity of a woman known as Anna Raccoon and the correspondence and list of contacts upon which it is based. Anna Raccoon is a former resident of Duncroft residential School from whence initial allegations against Savile emanate. Anna has terminal cancer and, as a result, her important counter-hegemonic account risks being lost. The circumstances of Anna’s illness prompted a successful bid to a call from the ESRC for ‘Urgent’ research. Its aim is to collate important data relating to the Savile case and to open it up to examination and analysis across a range of academic disciplines. This paper will outline the nature of the project, which involves accessing non-traditional data types, such as internet blogs and comments and archiving these alongside more traditional data types such as interview transcriptions and published reports. It will address questions textual analysis in particular using text mining to identify people, places and organisations within the data. Crucially, it will also discuss some of the ethical implications of engaging with data around what is a sensitive and contested subject.