This is a report on a workshop held in May 2015 to discuss the fundamentals of forensic research design and the evaluation of the literature in order to better equip practicing forensic scientists to evaluate the research papers of others and conduct the quality of research expected of an academic discipline.
The workshop planning committee decided on three subject areas to be covered, with each receiving a half-day session. The subject areas were experimental design and statistics; interpretation and assessment; and policy implications. The overall goal of the workshop was to assemble 17 experts in the experimental and behavioral sciences, law, policy, and government funding to address the need for a higher standard of forensic science research. This concern was occasioned by recent critical reports, the more important one being the National Research Council's "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward," which have emphasized the importance of quantitating the probability of a match between two items of evidence. This concern has particular relevance for DNA, fingerprints, ballistics, and tool mark matches. The workshop planning committee decided on three subject areas: experimental design and statistics; interpretation and assessment; and policy implications. The workshop produced an outline of what to consider in evaluating forensic research. The main considerations should be the evaluator's general qualifications; the evaluator's qualifications within the specific forensic discipline; publication category (research paper, technical note, or policy/commentary paper); experimental design; statistics; interpretation; conclusions; bias; and overall (good science, innovation, importance, usefulness, and confirmation of prior thought). 7 citations