Effective communication is vital within the justice process and nowhere more so than in relation to the communication of forensic science and specifically with regard to the transfer and persistence of trace evidence. The use of terminology that might be misunderstood and the issues that surround the communication of uncertainty and error rates, all have the potential to cause errors of interpretation by those involved in the crime scene to court journey.
Mixed research methods will be employed to understand the ways in which language relating to transfer and persistence is used by each of the groups involved in the criminal justice process. It is envisaged that those professions will include crime scene investigators, forensic scientists, the police and members of the law profession. Techniques will include systematic literature reviews, surveys and interviews. This will identify commonalities and variations that exist across professional boundaries. This information will be utilised as a platform from which to create a common lexicon that is understood by all groups, ensuring that communication across professional boundaries is facilitated. The work will include creating and testing standard definitions ensuring that all groups use the same terminology throughout the justice process. The research work will build on science communication research, to determine best approaches in engaging these diverse groups with the aim of improving communication and decision-making based on scientific evidence. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop and define the research objectives relating to the project with the supervisory team. Key to this research will be the involvement of all professional groups as active players in the research.
The studentship is based at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS), University of Dundee. Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Herve Menard ([Email Address Removed]) and Prof Lucina Hackman ([Email Address Removed]).