[R] "Complex?" import of pdf files (criminal records) into R table

"Biedermann, Jürgen" juergen.biedermann at charite.de
Thu Oct 15 10:43:09 CEST 2009

Hi there,

I'm facing the decision if it would be possible to transform several 
more or less complex pdf files into an R Table-Format or if it has to be 
done manually. I think it would be a impudent to expect a complete 
solution, but I would be grateful if anyone could give me an advice on 
how the structure of such a R-program could look like, and if it's 
possible in general.

Here the problem:
Each pdf file belongs to a person. The pdf files actually represent the 
anonymous criminal record of a person. Each entry should lead to one row 
with the person number as key. The different lines should form the 
columns. The criminal record actually looks like this:

Header with irrelevant text for us   |  Date: xx.xx.xxxx (relevant for us)

Anonymous person number: xxxxxxxxxxx

Entries in the register

1. xx.xx.1902  -City-
    Be in force since: xx.xx.1902
    Date of offense:xx.xx.xxxx
    Elements of the offence: For example "Rape"
    Section in law: §176, §178 Abs. 1
    Sentenced to 5 years imprisonment
    "Irrelevant text for us"
    Accommodation in an forensic psychiatry
    Accommodation sentenced on probation
    Rest of sentence sentenced on probation until the xx.xx.xxxx

2. xx.xx.1910
    Be in force since: ....

The problem is that the entries do not always have the same structure. 
The first 6 lines are structurally the same in each entry of the 
criminal record (each entry has a line for the judgement date, the "be 
in force" date, the date of offence, the elements of the offence, the 
Sections in law, and the sentence).

But then depending on the sentence different lines emerge which contain 
information if the person was sentenced on probation, if the probation 
was withdrawn again, when the person was released etc.
So, I think, these lines should be allocated to different columns 
depending on key words. The definition of the key words for most cases 
would not be the problem, actually. If a certain column is not relevant 
in an entry (so, the key word didn't emerge) NA should be put in the place.
But because sometimes (in rare cases), the entries contain spelling 
errors, at the end, all the lines of an entry, which could not be 
allocated to a column should be put in a column to check them manually.

In the end the table should look more of less like this.

"Released";"Not allocated"

xxxx1   1   xx.xx.1902  xx.xx.1901 ... xx.xx.1905 NA  "blablabla"
xxxx1   2   xx.xx.1910  xx.xx.1909 ... NA        1925  "blablabla"
xxxx2   1   xx.xx.1924  xx.xx.1923 ... NA        NA  "blablabla"

Could anyone help me?


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