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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Surveying the Professional Literature

Abstract photo of eyeglasses inside of a law book. Caption reads, 'Surveying the Professional Literature.'
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

The literature survey varies in each case, depending on the field and the specific assignment. A literature survey may include:

  • Professional and technical journals.
  • Dissertations.
  • Commercial literature.
  • Manufacturers' products or technical bulletins.
  • Internal operating and procedure manuals.
  • Standard textbooks for specific fields, industries, etc.
  • Relevant test procedures and laboratory studies.
  • Other experimental studies.
  • The expert's own library and files, including: lecture notes, laboratory tests, reports prepared in prior forensic assignments, surveys, articles, and prior depositions and testimony transcripts in similar cases. (The expert's files may also assist in cross-examination preparation.)

In addition, analysts should be very familiar with the standard key texts in their specific field(s) of expertise. These authoritative texts are referred to as learned treatise. The expert should stay current on new developments, techniques, research, standards of practice and protocol in the applicable area(s) of expertise.

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