Strengthening Forensic Science Research at the National Institute of Justice


Reliable and valid forensic science analytic techniques are critical to a credible, fair, and evidence-based criminal justice system.  There is widespread agreement that the scientific foundation of some currently available forensic science methods needs strengthening and that additional, more efficient techniques are urgently needed.


A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reviews progress made by the National Institute of Justice, the U.S. Department of Justice’s research arm for issues of crime and justice, since the Academies' 2009 and 2010 reports on forensic science and NIJ. 


The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report found that while NIJ has made recent improvements to the agency’s scientific capability, it needs to do more to support high-quality forensic science research. The report offers a blueprint for the future that includes recommendations for NIJ to build upon its recent progress and substantially improve the amount and quality of forensic science research it supports. 


The committee noted that its recommendations are not a remedy for all systemic problems facing forensic science, some of which are policy-dependent and beyond the scope of NIJ’s research and development mission. However, if its recommendations are fully implemented and any potential barriers overcome, the committee believes the forensic science research and development program at NIJ will be strengthened, thus improving the criminal justice system’s ability to collect, identify, preserve, and interpret forensic evidence.



Copies of Support for Forensic Science Research: Improving the Scientific Role of the National Institute of Justice are now available at  Media inquiries should be directed to the Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or email