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The Researcher’s Role in Technology Transition

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2020

This ”in-brief” paper discusses the researcher’s role in the transition of technology into forensic practice and summarizes the characteristics of a successful transition and the roles of forensic stakeholders in bringing research into practice.



Research and development (R&D) have a key role in improving the practice of forensic science and criminal justice administration. The tools and methods used by researchers to increase knowledge can assist in improving the objective collection, analysis, and interpretation of evidence in solving crimes. Technology transition begins with an understanding of the needs of forensic practitioners and the framing of a research question. Researchers then develop solutions that address the needs of forensic practitioners. This involves the development and testing of prototypes with end users. Researchers introduce technologies into casework in a scientific validation of solutions, followed by adoption into casework. The transition process of integrating research-based technology into forensic practice is continuous and cyclical, since new and varied applications will continue to be discovered and tested. Forensic stakeholders can help researchers in defining a need and understanding how it impacts criminal justice interests. Solutions that effectively transition from research projects into practice share the following characteristics: 1) they address a need experienced by practitioners in their criminal justice/forensic work; 2) the research-derived technology and its implementation in criminal justice is attainable; and 3) it must be viable in a criminal justice setting (laboratory, court, or field investigation). With the support of other stakeholders, researchers make the transition from their research domain into the practice domain through a process that challenges them to explain, validate, and provide input in the adoption of the fruits of research in the forensics/criminal justice fields of practice.  

Date Published: January 1, 2020