Explained:Forensic Science

  08-Sep-2020 12:51:56

Forensic science Science Criminal investigation CBI

The term “Science” is defined as the collection of systematic methodologies used increasingly to understand the physical world. The term forensics is derived from the Latin word “forensis” meaning of or before the forum which means “as applied to public or legal concerns”. Thus, Forensic science becomes an apt term for the profession of scientists whose work answers questions for the courts through reports and testimony. Forensic science was around for several centuries. But, with the advancements made in scientific studies and research, the true and hidden aspect of forensic science was discovered and this field established its own place in the field of science. Also, recent research and studies have brought the field of forensic science to new heights and gave it a greater credibility and importance as a decisive factor in many legal proceedings, in which forensic evidence often outweighs the testimony of witnesses even on the scene.

This field is difficult to define and it has no boundaries as it is a vast field combining principles and techniques from various other fields for the administration of justice through legal and scientific aids. That is why forensics is an “interdisciplinary field” with its several disciplines including forensic biology, forensic chemistry, forensic physics, forensic serology, forensic ballistics, forensic anthropology, digital forensics etc. There are also some new emerging fields in forensic science such as forensic accounting, forensic engineering, forensic MBA etc. which can act as a useful tool to the people who are within the field, and those who are aspiring to be in this field and even for the ones who are looking forward to gain an insight about this subject. This not only opens the gateway for interdisciplinary research but also lets an individual apply all of his/her knowledge inherited for the purpose of criminal investigation.

Significant Contribution in Forensic Science

Even some people not belonging from this field have contributed both directly and indirectly in this field. For example, Calvin Goddard a Military Historian due to his wide range of expertise in US Army and also as a Professor of Police Science in Northwestern University, in 1925 wrote an article titled “Forensic Ballistics'' in which he mentioned the use of Comparison Microscope for Firearms Identification and gave the conceptualized Forensic Ballistics what we see today in the modern world. This indeed makes Forensic Science a multidisciplinary subject combining people of various fields and therefore, it acts as an essential link which can glue together all kinds of evidence and all kinds of people in any form of investigation. It involves the application of the principles and methodologies of various disciplines from science to legal matters.

Applications of Forensic Science

Nearly everyone has heard of evidence of DNA or fluorescence, as well as many other recent forensic scientific developments. While many of us get our information from TV programs like CSI, the reality is that forensic science is moving rapidly from the television realm to the wider real world. DNA proof is now a significant part of most legal proceedings involving any human body. Whether you are talking about hair fibers, clothes or even something so mundane like dust, forensic science can often draw conclusions and point to the irrefutable facts that often lead to convictions of criminals who would be free to commit more atrocities if not forensic science. Fibers can have a telling tale which can only be exposed through the use of forensics. Carpet fibers are unique to manufacture and make. Gunpowder contains microscopic residue which can correctly identify the powder type, shell manufacturer and much more information. When viewed using forensic science, simple particles of dust can often place items or individuals at definitive locations down to an exact time frame. Something we may see as a bug or an insect can tell how long an item has been in a given location. With Forensic Science, there are many factors which are explored. The scientific conclusion offers irrefutable evidence and can be an effective tool in crime-fighting.

Jobs in Forensics

A forensic scientist is a person who has keen knowledge about his/ her subject, can defend his opinion in the court of law and most importantly he/she should have good observation skills, vigilant, highly alert and always ready to face the situation, may it be examination of the crime scene, examination of dead body etc. The work of a forensic scientist should be very accurate and ethically correct as this will only prove in the court of law a person’s innocence or guilt. A few of the main duties of a forensic scientist are responding to the crime scene to make assessments and perform investigative tasks, taking photographs and video recording crime scenes, identifying and collecting physical evidences and making notes, attending autopsies, making crime scene sketches, creating reports of the findings, analyzing the evidence in the lab, and testifying in court. They also have to report the findings of the analysis to superiors. Some of the job titles that a forensic scientist could grow into are lab manager, detective, junior scientific officer, senior scientific officer at both private and public forensic science laboratory. It is not only restricted to the labs, after pursuing forensic science one can also see themselves in the fields such as legal counselling, teaching etc. The top recruiters in Forensic science are Intelligence Bureau (IB), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), hospitals, Private detective agencies, Quality Control Bureau, Banks, Universities, Defense/Army.

Author’s take

Forensic science is advancing rapidly to the point where today's science fiction could well be tomorrow's science reality. Advances in science, and with forensic science in particular, are not only new and fascinating but are constantly improving and being refined. Forensic science is not only a great tool for today but indeed the future looks bright. The people who have enough interest in science and related fields can turn up and solve the problems of the society by becoming tomorrow's forensic science practitioner. In many ways forensic science benefits society as a whole. For knowing or taking a grip in this subject you can do several online certification courses that are available such as:

There are several other courses and certifications available online related to forensic science on websites such as coursera, futurelearn to name a few. There are also several online tools available for the purpose of digital forensics. One such digital forensic tool is ‘Autopsy’ which is the premier end-to-end open source digital forensics platform (https://www.autopsy.com/download/). So, if you feel the detective rising in you and if you want to contribute something in serving justice to people, then you can join the journey full of adventure, thrill and excitement by pursuing both your bachelors in the field of forensic science or pure science and your masters in the same subject.

By: Nandini Gupta