The National Academy of Sciences ground-breaking report on forensic science – Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward – raised numerous issues. One dominant theme that runs throughout the Report is the failure of some forensic science disciplines to comport with fundamental scientific principles – in particular, to support claims with empirical research. The Report observed that “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.”

The Report went on to identify fingerprint examinations, firearms (ballistics) and toolmark identifications, questioned document comparisons, hair analysis, and bite mark examinations as disciplines lacking such empirical research. This essay attempts to answer the “why” question: Why was there a lack of research across so many forensic disciplines?


Forensic Science, Scientific Evidence, DNA Evidence, Fingerprint Evidence, General Acceptance Test, Empirical Research, Frye Rule, Evidentiary Standards, Crime Laboratories, Underfunded Crime Laboratories, Strengthening Forensic Sciences in the United States, National Academy of Sciences, Daubert

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Fordham Urban Law Journal

Publication Information

38 Fordham Urb. L.J. 503 (2010)


COinS Paul C. Giannelli Faculty Bio