1st Edition

Measurement Uncertainty in Forensic Science A Practical Guide

By Suzanne Bell Copyright 2017
    182 Pages 75 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    182 Pages
    by CRC Press

    In the courtroom, critical and life-changing decisions are made based on quantitative forensic science data. There is often a range in which a measured value is expected to fall and, in this, an inherent uncertainty associated with such measurement. Uncertainty in this context is not error. In fact, estimations of uncertainty can add to the utility and reliability of quantitative results, be it the length of a firearm barrel, the weight of a drug sample, or the concentration of ethanol in blood.

    Measurement Uncertainty in Forensic Science: A Practical Guide describes and defines the concepts related to such uncertainty in the forensic context. The book provides the necessary conceptual background and framework—a baseline—for developing and deploying reasonable and defensible uncertainty estimations across forensic disciplines. Information is presented conceptually, using easily understood examples, to provide a readable, handy reference for scientists in the laboratory, as well as investigators and legal professionals who require a basic understanding of the science underpinning measurement results.

    1. Forensic Measurements, Metrology, and Uncertainty

    2. Sources of Uncertainty

    3. Foundational Concepts

    4. Processes and Procedures

    5. Measurement Assurance: Distances, Crime Scenes, and Firearms

    6. Uncertainty and Weighing

    7. Breath Alcohol

    8. Miscellaneous Topics


    Dr. Suzanne Bell is a professor of Chemistry at West Virginia University, affiliated with the Chemistry and Forensic & Investigative Science departments. Dr. Bell was appointed to the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS) in 2014 and has served on the Scientific Working Groups for Seized Drug Analysis (SWGDRUG) and gunshot residue (SWGGSR). She was a commission on the Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) and currently serves on the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) subcommittee on GSR. She has teaches forensic chemistry and toxicology courses, has been published in numerous international journals, and has authored two editions of the textbook Forensic Chemistry (Pearson/Prentice Hall), Introduction to Microscopy (CRC Press), and the fourth edition of the comprehensive introductory text Forensic Science: An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques (CRC Press). She presents lectures and teaches workshops on estimation of uncertainty in forensic science at conferences and for state and local forensic science laboratories.