Shifting forensic science focus from means to purpose: A path forward for the discipline?

Claude Roux, Sheila Willis, Céline Weyermann (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


Forensic science is facing a persistent crisis that is often addressed by organizational responses, with a strong focus on the improvement and standardisation of means and processes. However, organisations and processes are highly dependent on the political, economical and legal structures in which they operate. This may explain why most proposed solutions had difficulties in addressing the crisis up to now, as they could hardly be applied transversally to all forensic science models. Moreover, new tools and technologies are continuously developed by a quasi-infinite number of different scientific disciplines, thus leading to further diversity and fragmentation of forensic science. In this paper, it is proposed to shift the focus from means to purpose and consider forensic science current challenges in terms of discipline, before addressing organisations’ specific issues. As a distinct discipline, forensic science can refocus research and development on shared principles and purposes, such as reconstructing, monitoring, and preventing crime and security issues. This focus change will facilitate a better understanding of the trace as the object of study of forensic science and eventually lead to a more impactful and long-lasting effect. This approach will also foster the development of a forensic science culture (instead of a primarily technological culture) unified by purpose rather than means through more relevant education and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-686
Number of pages9
JournalScience and Justice
Issue number6
Early online date25 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Digital transformation
  • Forensic science
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Relevance
  • Research & Development
  • Technology
  • Trace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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