Education & Training

Forensic Resources on the Web

by Diana Botluk and Elizabeth Fitterman

National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law
at Stetson University College of Law

Researchers generally turn to the Internet in their quests for information, and those researching forensic topics are no exception. Some interesting and useful sources for forensic related research can be found online. This article will describe some of the best resources for forensic researchers.
General Forensic Resources
The National Institute of Justice's Forensic Sciences web pages ( provide the full text of many NIJ publications related to forensic sciences, as well as descriptions of related NIJ programs and funding sources. One of the essential works for forensics is the FBI's Handbook of Forensic Services, the text of which can be found online at the FBI website ( It provides "guidance and procedures for safe and efficient methods of collecting, preserving, packaging, and shipping evidence" and describes "the forensic examinations performed by the FBI's Laboratory Division and Investigative Technology Division." This online version is divided into four major sections: Introduction, Evidence Examinations, Crime-Scene Search, and Crime-Scene Safety. The Handbook is also available in print from the FBI.

While the full text of the Handbook of Forensic Services is available online for free, it is generally true that the full texts of most books are not readily accessible online. However, a database of books from FORENSICnetBASE/LawENFORCEMENTnetBASE ( provides the texts of dozens of forensic science and criminal justice books that are available in full text on the website. It is available from CRCnetBASE for an annual subscription fee.

The National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law (NCSTL) at Stetson University College of Law provides a website ( that brings a wide variety of forensic-related information together in one place, freely available to public users. It offers a database of bibliographic information for an assortment of resources, including books, scientific and legal journal articles, newspaper and magazine articles, seminars and conference sessions, dissertations and organizations, to name a few. Books and journals that are indexed in NCSTL's database are available through interlibrary loan from the Stetson Law Library. The Related Links portion of the website provides a directory of hundreds of scientific and law-related links that are useful for forensic researchers. The Education section provides handouts created for professional development presentations by NCSTL staff, as well as transcripts, podcasts and webcasts of lectures on forensic science and technology.

There are several useful forensic-related websites providing either research pathfinders or a categorized directory of web links, or both. Gelman Library's Forensic Sciences pathfinder ( is an excellent resource for those performing research in topics related to forensic sciences. Provided by George Washington University, this site provides information about forensic-related resources in both print and online formats. Additionally, Science and Technology Resources on the Internet ( by science and engineering librarian Cynthia Holt, is an online article from 2003 that describes and links to the best forensic resources on the Internet. Ms. Holt updated this article in her 2005 book, Guide to Information Sources in the Forensic Sciences, published by Libraries Unlimited.

Zeno's Forensic Site ( is a web directory of hundreds of forensic-related sites on the Internet. The links are topically categorized; however, an interesting feature of the site is that users can rate the links, thus providing useful feedback to future researchers visiting the site. Zeno also provides a page of links to those sites he finds particularly interesting, and provides the opportunity to be informed by e-mail when new links are added. Kruglick's Forensic Resource and Criminal Law Search Site ( is a web resource sponsored by Forensic Bioinformatics that lists links to over 1500 sites related to forensics or law. Informational articles on the site include Kim Kruglick's "A Beginner's Primer on the Investigation of Forensic Evidence," Donald E. Riley's "DNA Testing: An Introduction for Non-Scientists - An Illustrated Explanation," Frederic Douglas' "GC/MS Analysis," and Paul C. Giannelli's "Expert Qualifications & Testimony." Forensic researchers can also use Reddy's Forensic Page (, which is a web directory of dozens of links related to forensic science and law. It is organized into topical categories.

The library at Johnson & Wales, a member of the Higher Education Library Information Network (HELIN), maintains several sites that describe and link to various - - and often eclectic - - research resources, including public and government criminal justice resources. The Criminal Justice: General Resources webpage ( points users to gateways, directories, academic sites, clearinghouses, think tanks, and professional associations/organizations. These resources do not include government agencies, which are the resources located and described by the library's Criminal Justice: Official Resources webpage ( This site describes the Internet resources supporting the criminal justice activities of official federal, state and local government agencies. Some of these links provide gateways to government agencies, international organizations, law enforcement directories, clearinghouses, and sites that maintain criminal justice statistical data.

Some unique forensic-related sites can be found online. These include Crime and Clues: The Art and Science of Criminal Investigation (, a site that pulls together articles about various aspects of criminal investigation. It provides links to new articles on its home page, but also has archives of older articles categorized by topics, including different types of scientific evidence, crime scene and death investigation, and testimony and ethics. The links are annotated, giving the reader the time-saving capability of narrowing down what he or she wants to look at before following a link. Additionally, the Forensics & Investigations pages of Court TV's Crime Library: Criminal Minds & Methods ( provide background reports on some of the most notorious or unusual investigations.

To make sure that forensic scientists from various countries are all on the same page, the Multilingua Group within the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes has created a glossary of forensic-related terms that are immediately translated into several European languages (

Keeping up to date in any discipline can be a challenge. The Crime Lab Project Forum ( is a blog that reports on the latest news about crime labs and other forensic-related stories. The webpage-based blog is frequently updated; however, readers who wish to follow the updates can opt to have them delivered to their e-mail addresses by means of a Yahoo! group. Additionally, Daubert Tracker ( is a database that tracks U.S. federal and state court decisions and supporting documents about "evidentiary gatekeeping." It provides a database of all reported decisions and many unreported decisions dating back to 1993. It also fills in any missing information regarding the expert's name, discipline, area of expertise challenged, and results of the challenge. The Daubert Tracker is a fee-based service, with a subscription available.
Finding Forensic-Related Articles
Searching for an article related to forensic science is easy when using Forensic Science Abstracts ( This index can be found in hard copies in many libraries, but is also part of the online collection of database called EMBASE, a biomedical and pharmacological database available from Elsevier ( EMBASE is available for a subscription fee.

The FORS Forensic Bibliographic Database ( indexes articles about drugs and toxicology, forensic biology, DNA, forensic chemistry, forensic medicine and pathology, digital evidence, computer crime, documents and firearms examination, arson investigation, image processing, fingerprints, safety, quality and management aspects of running a forensic science service. It routinely covers 150 worldwide journals, but indexes from over 1900 sources. This index dates back to 1976. FORS is available for a subscription fee.

PubMed ( is provided for free from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. It includes over 16 million citations to life science and biomedical articles dating back to the 1950s. It includes links to online sources of the full text of indexed articles, as well as a list of libraries that hold that article.

When searching for dissertations, researchers can use ProQuest Digital Dissertations (, which indexes and abstracts dissertations and theses in all disciplines. Online guest users can search the most recent two years of the index and abstracts database. Full subscribers can access the entire database of over two million records.

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) is sponsored by several offices within the United States Department of Justice and Executive Office of the President. NCJRS provides one of the largest criminal and juvenile justice libraries and databases in the world, the NCJRS Abstracts Database ( The NCJRS collection contains more than 185,000 publications, reports, articles, and audiovisual products from the United States and around the world. These resources include statistics, research findings, program descriptions, congressional hearing transcripts, and training materials. The collection dates back to the 1970s. The Abstracts Database is available online for free, and links to the full text of documents whenever available.

The database at the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law ( indexes forensic-related articles whose focus is science, technology, law or criminal justice, thus pulling together a variety of forensic-related disciplines into one place. The NCSTL database is available for free, and links to freely available full text of articles where they exist, or the web page where such articles can be purchased if necessary.

Most journal articles can be accessed in full text online for a fee, but there are some journals that provide their full text for free. Some of these are: American Journal of Pathology (from the American Society for Investigative Pathology) (, Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine (from the College of American Pathologists) (, Crime Lab Minute (from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors) (, The Forensic Echo (, Forensic Magazine (, Forensic Nurse archives (, Forensic Science Communications (, INTERfaces (newsletter of the Forensic Science Society) (, Journal of Clinical Pathology (, Laboratory Investigation (from the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology) (, Microgram Journal (, NIJ Journal (, Science & Technology Review (, and TechBeat (
Forensic Associations
Most forensic associations and societies maintain an online presence through their websites, which generally provide information about the organizations and their membership. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) ( is a professional society dedicated to the application of science to the law and is "committed to the promotion of education and the elevation of accuracy, precision, and specificity in the forensic sciences." AAFS was founded in 1948 and has nearly 6000 members, including physicians, attorneys, dentists, toxicologists, physical anthropologists, document examiners, psychiatrists, physicists, engineers, criminalists, educators, and others. AAFS publishes the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Current abstracts are available to the public at, while abstracts for volumes 1- 50 can be found online at The AAFS website also provides a wealth of information about education and career planning for forensic scientists, as well as links to other valuable forensic science resources.

The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) ( is a nonprofit professional society of crime laboratory directors and forensic science managers. It is "dedicated to providing excellence in forensic science through leadership and innovation." The web site offers information about forensic science education and careers, as well as the society's official newsletter, the Crime Lab Minute, and links to other online articles focusing on forensic science in the news.

The Canadian Society of Forensic Science (CSFS) ( is a non-profit organization of professionals with an active interest in forensic science. It is open to an international membership, and incorporated to maintain professional standards, and to promote the study and enhance the stature of forensic science. Abstracts of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal are available on the CSFS website. Website visitors can link from the home page to the Population Studies Data Centre, which provides raw DNA data and frequency tables from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, Ontario. Visitors can also find information about forensic science education and careers.

Formed in 1915, the International Association for Identification (IAI) ( is the oldest and largest forensic science/forensic identification organization in the world, with over 6400 members from many different forensic disciplines. Its website provides information about the association and its many divisions, publications, and professional opportunities.

Websites of other forensic-related associations or societies include: American Chemical Society (, American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (, American Society of Forensic Odontology (, American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (, Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction (, Association of Firearms and Tool Mark Examiners (, Association of Forensic DNA Analysts and Administrators (, Entomological Society of America (, Evidence Photographers International Council (, Forensic Science Society (, International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts (, International Association of Crime Analysts (, International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (, International Institute of Forensic Engineering Sciences (, Microscopy Society of America (, National Association of Medical Examiners (, and Society of Forensic Toxicologists (

Additionally, some scientific working groups or technical working groups related to forensics have their own websites. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a general website for scientific working groups at Other specific working group sites include: SWGDAM - Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (, SWGDE - Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence (, SWGDRUG - Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (, SWGFAST - Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, Study, and Technology (, SWGGUN - Scientific Working Group for Firearms and Toolmarks (, SWGIT - Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technology (, SWGSTAIN - Scientific Working Group on Bloodstain Pattern Analysis ( While other forensic-related SWGs and TWGs exist, they do not yet have websites.
Web Resources Related to Specific Forensic Topics

Forensic Pathology

Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body ( is an exhibition at the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, in Maryland. An online exhibit complements the exhibition in Maryland. The website features information about the history of forensic medicine, galleries of famous forensic cases throughout history, libraries of images and video files, and other educational resources.

Forensic Anthropology

Established in 1988 and reformed in 1992 as the International Association for Craniofacial (IACI) (, this association focusing on craniofacial identification is comprised primarily of medical and scientific professionals from throughout the world. Members also specialize in the related fields of Forensic Odontology, Forensic Anthropology, 2- and 3-Dimensional Skull Reconstruction Techniques, Computer-Based Skull Reconstruction, Facial Aging for Law Enforcement, Facial Mapping and Composite Sketching. The organization offers educational opportunities that include classes ranging from "How to be a Forensic Artist" and "Understanding the Human Face" to both basic and advanced classes "Facial Reconstruction Sculpture." The site includes links to selected historical exhumation projects as well as nearly 30 related craniofacial identification sites and publications.

Wesley Neville, an IACI member and forensic artist for the Florence County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina, maintains Forensic Art (, a website providing a brief description of the various facets of forensic art as well as links to several additional resources out of his "love of forensic art."

The Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in Hawaii is the world's largest forensic anthropology laboratory in operation. JPAC's mission is to account for missing Americans lost during military conflicts. The material evidence—personal effects, uniform items, weapons, tools and more—collected throughout the world to identify the missing individuals is curated in the CIL and retained items are shared with museum partners. The website of the CIL ( provides an interesting presentation in describing how the staff of more than 30 civilian forensic anthropologists employs the related sciences of archaeology, odontology, odonto- and opto-search to accomplish its identification missions. The site also includes general scientific information about forensic anthropology and related fields, news releases regarding its forensic work including its project to collect family reference samples (mtDNA) to aid in identification of missing service men and women, recounts of historical missions, and career opportunities.

The American Association of Physical Anthropology (AAPA) ( is an authoritative professional organization formed in 1930, and now lists a membership of more than 1700 professionals, scientists and physical anthropology students who have demonstrated qualification for membership through publication or professional activities. The AAPA site provides information intended mainly for its members such as funding opportunities, the location of graduate programs, position statements by the organization, job postings and access to its official journal, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Other pages include information about careers in physical anthropology, the organization's annual meeting and links to other related scientific associations.


A trilogy of sites developed to foster greater collaboration and sharing of information related to biometrics among federal and state government agencies, commercial entities and the public starts at ( This site is the authoritative source for all biometrics-related activities within the Federal government and is divided into three main areas. First, the Biometrics Reference Room tab leads to general information about biometrics technology, provides a synopsis of biometrics programs hosted by various federal agencies like the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice, and offers Privacy & Biometrics: Building a Conceptual Foundation, a publication which presents the government's perspective on privacy with respect to biometrics. Next, the site provides information on the National Science & Technology Council's (NSTC) Subcommittee on Biometrics, including presentations, publications and additional technical information. Third, a Media tab provides press releases, graphics and 'fast facts' geared for use among members of the press.

From, users can link to the two partner sites: Biometrics Catalog ( and The Biometric Consortium ( Each of the partner sites contain general, introductory information on biometrics and the government's privacy policy, similar to the information found on, but each site also contains additional and distinct information.

Biometrics Catalog is a free, public repository of biometrics information sponsored by the federal government but kept current by its public users—both the biometrics scientific and commercial communities—who add information as it becomes available. Postings include news releases, related government documents as well as private and scholarly, peer-reviewed reports. The government documents and private-sector reports are maintained in a searchable database (through a combination of Boolean operators and/or date ranges). During a recent visit (November 2006), the database supported more than one hundred government reports published between 1991 to September 2006, and approximately 5200 research papers, reports, conference presentations, publications and analysis across all fields of biometrics (fingerprints, voiceprints, facial recognition, ID cards, and iris recognition to name only a few topics). Examples of article titles from August 2006 include "Compound Stochastic Models for Fingerprint Individuality" and "3d Face Recognition Across Pose and Expression." Over 4000 of the private-sector research publications were published within the past ten years, with approximately 1900 published within the past five and 440 published within the past two years. But the site also included Bertillon Documents in French from 1881 and a 1919 study published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington on the basal metabolism in man.

Several additional databases maintained on the site allow users to search for information such as government authored or government sponsored evaluations of specific biometrics technologies (examples: Independent Testing of Iris Recognition Technology (May 2005); Studies of Plain-to-Rolled Fingerprint Matching Using the NIST Algorithmic Test Bed (ATB) (April 2004)). Federal solicitations for biometrics research and development or services and reports on biometrics-related legislative or governmental agency activity are also available. Remaining databases consist of postings listing conferences and educational courses, commercial products and their companies, and biometrics consultants and analysts.

The Biometric Consortium ( is described as a "focal point for research, development, testing, evaluation, and application of biometric-based personal identification/verification technology." The organization has hosted annual conferences since 1992 and provides links to conference material from the later conferences as well as information on upcoming conferences. Links to other meetings or educational events and materials are also available. Additionally, the site provides links to universities researching biometric technology and their specific programs, links to selected periodicals and research publications arranged by year of publication from 1994 through 2003, and provides an extensive biometrics glossary.

Forensic Botany

The Internet Directory of Botany, compiled by Anthony R. Brach, Harvard University Herbarium, and others (, is an extensive, award-winning alphabetical index of links to online botanical information. Users may peruse the lists of links to specific databases, articles, and other resources or search terms or keywords found within the titles. For example, "A Mini-Course in Medical Botany Syllabus by James A. Duke" is listed under the "A" index and will not be found if searching the "M" index (for "mini-course" or "medical botany"). However, a keyword search for "medical botany" or "James Duke" will locate the article.

Toxicology ( is the official website of The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists and offers direct links to additional resources from both public and members only areas. For example, the public section maintains a user-contributed collection of reference analytical data to assist in the identification of unknown toxic substances, an Observatory section comprised of links and a large directory of all genres of toxicology-related websites arranged by forensic specialty, and a Powersearch area to search for and access various scientific and medical literature and technological information.

Membership to TIAFT is $40 annually and allows access to the organization's therapeutic and toxic drug concentrations list, developed by colleagues and medical specialists and from information obtained through the field's literature, pharmaceutical industries and by comparison with established drug data lists. Members may also access the complete text of organization's quarterly journal, retrieve previously published journal Case Notes, read Online Reviews of various articles focused on state of the art forensic and analytical toxicology topics, and tap into a collection of nearly 1500 papers presented at TIAFT meetings spanning three decades. is the website of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT), an organization of practicing forensic toxicologists and others that share an interest in the discipline. The site provides brief and general information introducing forensic toxicology and allows public users to download guidelines for the practice of forensic toxicology in the two defined areas of postmortem forensic toxicology and human performance forensic toxicology which provides additional information on the subject of forensic toxicology. Additional downloads include the organization's Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Survey and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Drug List and Cutoff and the new American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) Toxicology Section Mass Spectrometry Database, a comprehensive drug library of the spectra for more than several hundred substances including a mini-library of the mass spectra of newer drugs, metabolites and some breakdown products.

The California Association of Toxicologists maintains a website ( that provides an online toxicology-related exchange and discussion forum (CAT Forum) interlinked with the Southwestern Association of Toxicologists. In addition to its links page, the site also features an extensive searchable database of online literature reviews by Dr. Rodger Foltz with particular emphasis on analysis of new drugs, newer chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques and, in general, their application for the identification and quantitation of drugs and metabolites in physiological specimens.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) maintains a webpage ( from which users may access general and historical information on fingerprint identification (All About Fingerprints tab), become familiar with the federal automated fingerprint identification system (IAFIS), learn the proper method for Taking Legible Fingerprints and discover training opportunities.

Latent Print Examination: Fingerprints, Palmprints and Footprints ( is possibly the best of several solid online resources dedicated to latent print examination, and is useful for both the novice and the experienced. The website, maintained by Ed German, a recognized expert in latent print examination, is an extensive repository of relevant latent fingerprint, handprint and footprint technology, history, news, caselaw, and links. Topics from challenges to fingerprint evidence reliability to the latest technologies for crime scene processing and evidence collection are explored in depth, and online discussion forums and opportunities to "ask an expert" are available to seek additional answers and information.

Ridges and Furrows at ( focuses on the enhancement of latent prints and latent print identification through the use of advances in digital technology. The history of latent print examination and court challenges to fingerprint science, particularly as they relate to the advancements in digital technology, are offered, as well as links to relevant newsletter, discussion forums and other online learning opportunities. The website is maintained by Mary Beeton, a Canadian fingerprint technician with the Durham Regional Police Service in Ontario.


Mitomap: A Human Mitochondrial Genome Database ( offers a comprehensive and searchable "compendium of polymorphisms and mutations of the human mitochondrial DNA." The database can be searched by gene, disease, or enzymes, for example, and keywords may be abbreviated or truncated. Alternatively, the user may use subsections divided into areas including "MtDNA Polymorphisms" and "MtDNA Mutations with Reports of Disease-Associations" and organized by mtDNA location or phenotype. The website is supplemented by several illustrations and tables, a "Mitomap Quick Reference" section that includes an extensive bibliography of mitochondrial references, and links to additional databases and related sites.

DNA•VIEW ( is the website maintained by forensic DNA identification consultant Charles Brenner, and presents a comprehensive look at forensic DNA analysis particularly as it relates to mathmetics. The site provides topical news, articles, archived discussions on DNA identification including recent identifications after mass disasters, information on DNA identification software, and data tables organized by subject (for example, "Allele Frequencies for US Populations" provided by Cellmark Diagnostics). Topic areas such as Discussions are generally enhanced with photos, PowerPoint® presentations, news and other articles provided by the participants.


FirearmsID (, privately maintained by Jeffrey Scott Doyle, a firearm and tool mark examiner with the Kentucky State Police Regional Forensic Lab, provides extensive educational and investigative information including firearm safety, topical articles, expert testimony, firearms testing, and an introduction to firearms and ballistics and arranged by categories like the History of Firearm ID and Case Profiles. The website offers a discussion area, Forensic Forum, and a Resource Area provides such subtopics as Ballistics Picture Book and Virtual Comparison Microscope, while another area leads the user to databases containing rifling data and a bullet and Shotshell Component search.


Forensic odontologist Mike Bowers created the website Issues in Human and Animal Bite mark (Bitemark) Analysis (, which provides an extensive overview of the subject, supplemented by hyperlinks to several case studies (for example, serial killer Ted Bundy and the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 in 2000), photos of bite mark evidence, journal articles, and links to similar websites.

Forensic Dentistry Online ( is the International Organisation for Forensic Odontostomotology (IOFOS) 's contribution to forensic dentistry. The website includes information on bitemarks and bitemark identification, including new resources using DNA from teeth and saliva, as well as information covering the legal aspects of bitemark evidence admissibility. Also included are sections posting news items and commentaries from users, book reviews on the subject, and links to continuing education courses and odontologists.

Questioned Documents

The website at, maintained by certified questioned document examiner Emily J. Will (, offers an overview of the subject through areas exploring the theories and applications of questioned document examination, the external tools used in examination and a presentation of famous cases. At Identifont ( users can use the largest independent directory of online typefaces to search for type and picture or symbol fonts by font appearance, name, or similarity. Users can also download a wide selection of fonts for free. Identifont was developed by Human-Computer Interface, an information design and documentation company specializing in high tech products. Similarly, Omniglot ( provides details of alphabets and writing systems, both current and ancient. Each writing system is illustrated, with information provided about its origin, usage, notable features and the languages written with it.