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Forensic Science Communication and Decision Making

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 29, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

There are a number of different specialisms within forensic science and crime scene evidence gathering and analysis, each of these scientific groups has their own expertise and each works within their own professional lexicon when communicating scientific concepts. When working as part of an investigative team, each specialist has a thorough understanding of the potential uses and applications of their specific area of forensic science and how this might support or further an investigative process. In order to apply this however, they do require a sound understanding of the circumstances and issues that are presented. Alternatively those who are in positions of decision making within the system, especially within the police and the legal community are not forensic specialists and may have limited background knowledge not only in forensic science but in science in general. This creates a situation in which those leading an investigation are reliant on communication with others who have specialist knowledge and use specialist language to drive their choices and underpin their judgements and in which these communications are central to decision making. It is of vital importance that this communication is robust and employs a common lexicon that spans commonly understood concepts. To further complicate the picture, most of these communications occur in prescribed environments such as the forensic strategy meeting or the courtroom which may create a further barrier to full understanding by all sides.

This PhD research will employ mixed research methods to understand the communications that are made within the liminal spaces that exist between the forensic science specialists, the investigative team and the legal teams and how these communications impact decision making. The aim is to identify and understand the issues, communication blocks and difficulties that exist as well as identifying areas of good practice where communication practices are clear and robust. The research will focus both on the communications that exist between groups, how these impact on decision making but also the environmental spaces within which they occur and as such, this research has the potential to be positively disruptive of the present system as alternatives to the present processes are identified. The research work will build on research on science communication and decision making to determine best approaches in engaging these diverse groups with the aim of improving and enabling 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.

An undergraduate or masters degree (including BSc/BA/MSc/MA) in a relevant discipline which may include but isn’t limited to communication, science communication, education, psychology and criminology. Experience in quantitative and qualitative methods including systematic reviews, interviews, survey design would be an advantage.

Funding Notes

The studentship is based at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS), University of Dundee. Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Hackman (). UK and EU students will be eligible for full-fee studentships and will be eligible for an annual stipend. Non-UK or non-EU students may be admitted to the programme but will be required to pay full overseas fees and costs if accepted.

Related Subjects

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