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Communication Skills, Report Writing, and Courtroom Testimony for Forensic Analysts

DNA Report Contents

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The DNA report is an official document supported by the case file. Every DNA report must meet the following requirements:

DNA Report Requirements



Include a case identifier

A unique identifying system used by the laboratory to distinguish cases and/or reports

Describe all the evidence examined

Many laboratories also note evidence that was received but not examined

Include a description of methodology and loci tested

For example: DNA was extracted, quantified, and amplified by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The following loci were examined: D3S1358, vWA, FGA, D8S1179, D21S11, D18S51, D5S818, D13S317, D7S820, D16S539, TH01, TPOX, CSF1PO, and the gender marker Amelogenin.

Include results and/or conclusions

Results are generally a description of the profile, such as single donor or mixture of three individuals . Conclusions are generally inclusive, exclusive, or inconclusive statements based on the data.

Incorporate an interpretative statement (quantitative/qualitative)

For example, a statistical statement

Include the date issued

Based on laboratory's procedure for generating reports

Identify the disposition of all evidence

May have to decide whether sub-items should be considered as evidence

Be signed by the DNA analyst responsible for the content (or otherwise identify the analyst)

Signature and title or equivalent identification

Be maintained by the laboratory

All records must be maintained in accordance with laboratory policies and local/agency requirements

Be subject to technical and administrative review before issue

A technical reviewer evaluates the data and conclusions for suitability while the administrative reviewer evaluates completeness and typos.


View standards and audit documents on the CODIS website.

Reports provide information about evidence samples. The way a report deals with test results will vary depending on the nature of the sample.

All samples can be divided into four categories:

  1. Known standards — samples that are known to come from a certain individual, such as blood, hair, buccal, bone, or teeth
  2. Intimate samples — those obtained from a person's body; for example, vaginal swabs, breast swabs, thigh swabs
  3. Personal items — those that immediately belong to the person, such as clothing worn during the crime
  4. Crime scene samples

Sometimes a known standard can not be obtained from the individual, and a personal item can be used as a secondary or alternative sample. Examples of this type of evidence include hair brush, toothbrush, or razor and other evidence assumed to belong to the victim.

In intimate samples, the donor's profile is expected to be present. Additional profiles may be probative and can be compared to other known standards.

Crime scene samples can produce single source or mixed profiles and reporting will vary depending on complexity.

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