A perspective on errors, bias, and interpretation in the forensic sciences and direction for continuing advancement

Bruce Budowle, Maureen C. Bottrell, Stephen G. Bunch, Robert Fram, Diana Harrison, Stephen Meagher, Cary T. Oien, Peter E. Peterson, Danielle P. Seiger, Michael B. Smith, Melissa A. Smrz, Greg L. Soltis, Robert B. Stacey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

68 Scopus citations


The forensic sciences are under review more so than ever before. Such review is necessary and healthy and should be a continuous process. It ident0ifies areas for improvement in quality practices and services. The issues surrounding error, i.e., measurement error, human error, contextual bias, and confirmatory bias, and interpretation are discussed. Infrastructure is already in place to support reliability. However, more definition and clarity of terms and interpretation would facilitate communication and understanding. Material improvement across the disciplines should be sought through national programs in education and training, focused on science, the scientific method, statistics, and ethics. To provide direction for advancing the forensic sciences a list of recommendations ranging from further documentation to new research and validation to education and to accreditation is provided for consideration. The list is a starting point for discussion that could foster further thought and input in developing an overarching strategic plan for enhancing the forensic sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)798-809
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2009



  • Forensic science
  • confirmation bias
  • context bias
  • education
  • error
  • ethics
  • interpretation
  • training

Cite this

Budowle, B., Bottrell, M. C., Bunch, S. G., Fram, R., Harrison, D., Meagher, S., Oien, C. T., Peterson, P. E., Seiger, D. P., Smith, M. B., Smrz, M. A., Soltis, G. L., & Stacey, R. B. (2009). A perspective on errors, bias, and interpretation in the forensic sciences and direction for continuing advancement. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 54(4), 798-809. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01081.x