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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 ( includes a topic list that links to information on forensic science disciplines, current issues, and legal considerations. The Library and Multimedia section ( provides access to the full text of many NIJ publications related to forensic sciences, as well as links to topical videos and research datasets. One of the essential works for forensics is the 2013 revised edition of the FBI Handbook of Forensic Services , which 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." The handbook is divided into four major sections: Introduction, Evidence Examinations, Crime-Scene Search, and Crime-Scene Safety.

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 Taylor & Francis 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 searchable 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. Each section of the website provides 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 webinar recordings on forensic science and technology topics.

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.

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 ( includes resource sections for books & e-books, videos & images and websites. The Criminal Justice: Websites section ( points users to directories, academic sites, clearinghouses, think tanks, and professional associations/organizations. This webpage is organized into three sections supporting the criminal justice community: organizations, government and education. Some of the links lead to gateways for 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.

The Oxford Reference A Dictionary of Forensic Science (2013), written by Dr. Suzanne Bell, provides an online glossary ( for "over 1,300 entries [that cover] the key concepts within forensic science, including a wide array of relevant specialist terms from areas such as chemistry, biology, anthropology, art, engineering, firearms, toolmarks, trace evidence, crime scene investigation, case history, biographies of investigators and criminals, as well as forensic computing." A print version of the dictionary is also available for purchase.

Keeping up to date in any discipline can be a challenge. The Forensic Science Technician website lists The Top 40 Forensic Forums ( Forum links are posted in four categories: digital forensics, forensic criminal topics, case cases, and other forensic forums. 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.

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) (, Forensic Magazine (, Journal of Forensic Nursing (, Forensic Science Communications archive (, , Journal of Clinical Pathology (, Laboratory Investigation (from the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology) (, Microgram Journal archive (, NIJ Journal (, 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 issues are available to the public at, while issues from 1972-2005 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 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 (, Microscopy Society of America (, National Association of Medical Examiners (, and Society of Forensic Toxicologists (

The Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Sciences ( promotes the development of consensus-based standards for 25 forensic science disciplines. Through the oversight of The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), OSAC's organizational structure ( consists of five major scientific areas: DNA/Biology; Chemistry/Instrumental Analysis; Crime/Scene Death Investigation; Digital/Multimedia and Physics/Pattern Interpretation. Each topic area has related discipline-specific subcommittees. The Forensic Science Standards Board (FSSB) oversees the committees and subcommittees. Additionally, committees on Human Factors, Legal Resources and Quality Infrastructure serve as resources to the forensic science committees and subcommittees.
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.

The National Clearinghouse for Science Technology and the Law webinar, Forensic Pathology Essentials (, features videos and conversations with medical examiners who are forensic pathology experts, lets you discover what happens to a body from the crime scene to the autopsy. This webinar takes you through the process of how an autopsy is conducted, with forensic reviews of the body, including head, neck, chest, abdomen, arm, and skin. A password is required to view the webinar. To request the video password, send an email to

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 mission of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is to account for missing Americans lost during military conflicts. Material evidenceŚpersonal effects, uniform items, weapons, tools and moreŚcollected throughout the world is used to identify the missing individuals. The website includes scientific articles about forensic anthropology (, scientific analysis ( and laboratory identification findings ( 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.

Biometrics ( is the authoritative source for all biometrics-related activities within the Federal government and provides links to the biometric missions of various government agencies.

On the Biometrics ( section of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's website, users can find information on biometric programs and projects as well as publications and topical updates on biometric research and advancements.

The mission of the Biometrics Institute is to promote the ethical use of biometric technology, information and analysis outcomes. The site features a publicly available database where users can search for resources in a variety of categories, including research, government, academia, law enforcement, privacy, security, newsletters and blogs.(

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 large directory of all genres of toxicology-related websites with sections ranging from full-text scientific articles to searchable databases for chemical and toxic substances. 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 Fingerprint Sourcebook ( is a comprehensive reference covering the history, classification, identification, development and analysis of fingerprint evidence. The sourcebook also addresses technology, equipment, research and legal considerations encountered with friction ridge analysis, comparison, evaluation and verification.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) maintains a webpage ( from which users may access general and information on fingerprint identification ((Recording Legible Fingerprints section), become familiar with the federal automated fingerprint identification system (IAFIS) (, learn the proper method for Recording 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.


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.