Forensic science is a very important part of criminal investigation. It is the application of medical, biological and chemical techniques to solve crime related problems. Writing forensic reports is one of the must-learn things, which every forensic studies student has to learn and become expert in, as it is an essential part of their duties.
This can be a very challenging thing for new students as forensic sciences are a very vast area. It covers diverse variety of subjects under its umbrella. This includes subjects as diverse as chemistry, human physiology and biochemistry, immunology, plant, animal and human sciences as well as mathematics. It can be quite intimidating to get a grasp on all these subjects and then to write a report on a case.
There are different ways in which assignments can be presented. One can be in the form of case study, where the student has to go through the case study, conduct investigative analysis and find the solution, based on the presence of clues given.
A forensic science lab report is an investigative report and hence has to follow the standard form for investigative reports such as lab reports and chemistry lab reports. The report has to start with the title of the project or research you are conducting.
The title has to be very specific and has to convey the following information: what was the basis for the experiment and what were the results. This title page is followed by the problem statement. This statement would describe the problem you have researched in the lab; it should be as specific as possible.
The description of the problem statement is followed by the background/context; in this case, it refers to the hypothesis. The hypothesis refers to a set to possible explanations for the event being tested; the results of the particular study will vindicate or negate the hypothesis and shed new light on the direction of investigation to be pursued. This is very important in forensic sciences as investigations may require multiple angles and avenues to be explored; multiple hypothesis to be tested before a final answer can be pinpointed.
Once the aim and the hypothesis has been elaborated, the next step would be to elaborate on how you are going to carry out the particular experiment. This is highlighted through the sections: Materials and Methods.
In the materials section, students would need to elaborately list down the materials which are required for carrying out the study. This would include chemicals, biological specimens, crime scene matter, instruments etc. The materials have to be listed down in descending fashion. You are free to use one or two columns, to enhance the presentation of the material.
The next section is the methodology. This is where you list down the steps followed for the particular procedures. If there are many procedures followed, you would need to list them down in order of their occurrence. You have to elaborate how have you used the materials to carry out these experiments. The procedures should be written down using action –oriented verbs. Procedures are usually written in past tense.
The section on methodology is followed by the section on observations. Observations are not be confused with discussions. Observations are the raw data you collected as part of your experiment. They could be photographs, quantitative and qualitative reaction results, numerical results etc. They need to be neatly captioned and presented in as accurate a manner as is possible. The numerical data should be presented in well organised tables. You should take care to ensure that your data are recorded independently and that both independent and dependent variables are recorded.
The next section is the data analysis section. This is where the results obtained following analysis of the raw data are presented. This includes graphs. This section displays the relationships between the data collected. Interpretation of these results would give the summary. While accounting results, units should be used properly. All data should be organised and numbered as well as labelled so that readers could easily retrieve the information.
The discussions are based on the results and observations. In the discussions, you would have to discuss the relevance of the findings with respect to existing knowledge on the issue. The findings would either corroborate or throw off your hypothesis. You have to connect the results and findings with the variables you studied as part of the experiment.
So, for example, if you were conducting a DNA analysis of a given sample, and wanted to confirm whether the crime scene sample matched it, you would be conducting the actual experiment and then discussing the findings (DNA analysis results) in terms of the hypothesis.
If the DNA findings match, you would possibly need to mention subsequent course of actions- more tests to confirm and strengthen your case or the next step forward. It is also important to remember that you would also need to refer to the tables/figures/graphs presented in the observation and results and refer to it in the discussion.
You just cannot leave it hanging without being referred to. Analysing in terms of trends, patterns, insights, extensions and conclusions are the possible ways, in which you can present the findings in a way which support future work.
The last segment of the report would be the conclusions. In this part, you would tie up the thesis statement with the findings and conclusions and wrap the up the whole report. You would present ideas as to future directions and next course of action of your study.
The format of the lab report has to be as per your university directions. There are different standard formats for writing used in journalism and education: these include APA, Harvard. You have to follow strictly the codes for these formats (unless and until your instructors have made modifications).
Good use of grammar and language is necessary to ensure that your report is of a high quality. One of the most important parts of a research or lab report is the reference section. Make sure that all references are identified and placed in the correct order. All sources of information, other than what you have created on y our own efforts, must be credited and cited where used. This includes both text and image matter.
If you have a report to be done and if you are not sure about where you can begin, drop us a line and our professional assignment writers will be happy to help.
Image source: By Etan J. Tal (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons