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Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
of uncertainty in reported results and associated estimated probabilities where possible.
The National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS), after reviewing established standards such as ISO 17025, and in consultationwith its advisory board, should establish standard terminology tobe used in reporting on and testifying about the results of forensicscience investigations. Similarly, it should establish model laboratory reports for different forensic science disciplines and specifythe minimum information that should be included. As part of theaccreditation and certification processes, laboratories and forensicscientists should be required to utilize model laboratory reportswhen summarizing the results of their analyses.
More and Better Research
As noted above, some forensic science disciplines are supported by little rigorous systematic research to validate the discipline’s basic premises and techniques. There is no evident reason why such research cannot be conducted. Much more federal funding is needed to support research in the forensic science disciplines and forensic pathology in universities and private laboratories committed to such work.
The forensic science and medical examiner communities will be improved by opportunities to collaborate with the broader science and engineering communities. In particular, there is an urgent need for collaborative efforts to (1) develop new technical methods or provide in-depth grounding for advances developed in the forensic science disciplines; (2) provide an interface between the forensic science and medical examiner communities and basic sciences; and (3) create fertile ground for discourse among the communities. NIFS should recommend, implement, and guide strategies for supporting such initiatives.
Research is needed to address issues of accuracy, reliability, andvalidity in the forensic science disciplines. The National Instituteof Forensic Science (NIFS) should competitively fund peer-reviewedresearch in the following areas:
Studies establishing the scientific bases demonstrating thevalidity of forensic methods.