Forensic Science Assessments: A Quality and Gap Analysis
AAAS conducted an analysis of the underlying scientific bases for the forensic tools and methods currently used in the criminal justice system. The project evaluated the scientific underpinnings the forensic community relies on to support their practices and, where these fall short, recommended areas requiring further study. This "gap analysis" produced a research agenda that will serve as the basis for arriving at forensic methods that will inspire greater confidence in our criminal justice system.
About the Project
For many years, there have been claims that the forensic sciences are neither valid nor reliable and may not meet the admissibility standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1993 Daubert ruling. The claims were underscored in a 2009 report of the National Research Council that found that forensic science as currently practiced has “little systematic research to validate the discipline’s basic premises and techniques.” This report does not, however, specify what in the literature supports current forensic practice and what does not, nor does it provide a research agenda for moving forward. Several members of the recently-appointed National Commission on Forensic Science have commented on the need for further analysis.
AAAS partially filled this void by conducting a quality and gap analysis of two forensic disciplines (see below). Working groups were appointed for each forensic field, and a distinguished Advisory Committee advised on every aspect of the overall project.
Project Staff are pleased to annouce the release of the report, Fire Investigation. Authored by a working group consisting of a fire investigator, and four academic scientists, the report is a thorough evaluation of the current status of the forensic discipline of fire investigation. The report includes conclusions and recommendations setting forth what we know about fire investigation, what we don't know, and what are the gaps in knowledge requiring further research.
For the "plain language" version, click here.
For a summary of the technical report, click here.
For the AAAS news article, click here
- Fire Investigation --
view working group members
- Latent Fingerprint Analysis -- view working group members
Martha Bashford, JD
Chief, Sex Crimes Unit
New York County District Attorney
Shari Seidman Diamond, JD, PhD
Professor of Law and Psychology
Northwestern University School of Law
Research Professor, American Bar Foundation
Itiel Dror, PhD
University College of London & Cognitive Consultants International Ltd.
Jules Epstein, JD
Director of Advocacy Programs
Temple Beasley School of Law
Barbara Hervey, JD
Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Gilbert S. Omenn, MD, PhD
Director, Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics
University of Michigan
Hal Stern, PhD
Professor of Statistics
University of California, Irvine
Fire Investigations Working Group
Jose Almirall, Ph.D (Chair) (Chemistry) Florida International University
Hal Arkes, Ph.D (Cognitive Psychology/Human Factors) Ohio State University
John Lentini, CFI, D-ABC (Forensic Science) Scientific Fire Analysis, LLC.
Frederick Mowrer, Ph.D (Fire Protection Engineering/Fire Science) California Polytechnic State University
Janusz Pawliszyn, Ph.D (Analytical Chemistry) University of Waterloo
Latent Fingerprint Analysis Working Group
John Black (Forensic Science) Black & White Forensics, LLC.
Anil Jain, Ph.D(Biometric Engineering) Michigan State University
Jay Kadane, Ph.D (Statistics) Carnegie Mellon University
William Thompson, J.D., Ph.D. (Chair) (Human Factors) University of California, Irvine