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An Examination of the Conditions Affecting Forensic Scientists: Workplace Productivity and Occupational Stress

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2011, $129,376)

The grantee will conduct a study of the conditions affecting forensic scientists' workplace productivity and occupational stress. The proposed investigation will complete four objectives to directly benefit forensic science laboratory directors and managers, as well as the forensic scientist practitioner community, policy makers, and the criminal justice system as a whole. First, the grantee will examine the prevalence and levels of work stressors and job satisfaction among forensic scientists in private and public agencies at the local, state, and federal level in the United States, using a sample of both sworn and unsworn scientists in all standard forensic science disciplines. Second, they will examine the influence of managerial, prosecutorial, and police requests and demands on the overall productivity, decision-making processes, and tasks of scientists. Third, this study will explore and document the effect of environmental and social factors, such as role conflicts, as well as laboratory staffing structures' the presence of sworn and unsworn positions, operating in a public or state-run lab, the types of analyses conducted, and working hours, for example, on the work experiences and decisions of forensic scientists. Finally, they will examine the use of negative or harmful coping strategies by forensic scientists as a result of their work experiences that may directly affect employee productivity.

The study will develop quantitative research from a national sample of diverse forensic scientists in order to understand the factors affecting their work. They will survey all scientists in the 371 accredited labs nationally. The survey instrument includes multiple measures to assess work stress, satisfaction, and the forces affecting individual work experiences across the forensic sciences. A variety of statistical techniques will be used to examine the data, including descriptive and multivariate techniques. HLM may be applied to examine differences within and across laboratories.

Date Created: September 19, 2011