Research Subcommittee

Research Subcommittee Meeting Dates

 

August/September (Date TBC) (videoconference)

Research Subcommittee Members

The current Chair of the Research Subcommittee is Dr Michael Freeman.

Should you like to contact the chair please send an email to forensic.medicine@fflm.ac.uk.

Committee members

Dr Michael Devlin Prof Paul Marks
Dr Michael Freeman (Chair) Dr Sheila Paul
Dr Cathy Lincoln Mr Brian Westbury

 

Terms of Reference

  • To monitor and advise the Academic Committee generally on the development of research activity.
  • To recruit an appropriate number of suitably qualified individuals within the Faculty and if appropriate outside it, who can be co-opted as members of the Research Subcommittee.
  • To develop a UK research agenda for forensic and legal medicine. The agenda will reflect any nationally agreed research priorities and the need to develop evidence-based forensic and legal medical practice.
  • To identify suitable research topics to implement in the research agenda.
  • To liaise with Medical Schools, Postgraduate Institutions and relevant Royal Colleges in the UK to develop links with them to promote collaborative research. To offer to provide external examiners from the FFLM to assess theses for higher degrees e.g. PhD, MD or MPhil.
  • To promote innovation and good practice in research; to monitor and evaluate research projects and ensure research conforms to the highest standards of probity and ethics.
  • To organise training in research techniques as appropriate by using webinars or other appropriate means.
  • To make available the results of research, and the expertise acquired, through teaching, publication, partnerships with other organisations and for the promotion of civic and public debate.
  • To consider matters concerning the provision and use of resources to support research and seek funding from sources such as industry, central government and charitable donations from instruments such as legacies etc.
  • To hold regular meetings as deemed appropriate and place reports before the Academic Committee which will be taken to the FFLM Board Meetings that occur during the year.

Papers of Interest

One of the goals of the Research Subcommittee is to regularly highlight and share relevant research and papers of interest to FFLM members.

Each month a different paper of interest will be listed below. We are interested in suggestions by members of recent research of note in forensic medicine. If you know of a paper that you would like to see featured, or if you have published a paper that you would like to share, please contact forensic.medicine@fflm.ac.uk (open access papers are preferable, but not required).

Paper Of Interest For August

Last month, we wrote about a study describing the role of cognitive bias in the forensic investigation of suspected child abuse deaths.

For this month (from the same author as last month’s offering – Prof Itiel Dror, University College London) is an interesting discussion of a proposed method to reduce the role of cognitive bias in performing analysis in the forensic medical sciences (Dror and Kukucka, Linear Sequential Unmasking–Expanded (LSU-E): A general approach for improving decision making as well as minimizing noise and bias. For Sci Int 2021;3,100161).

The method, “Linear Sequential Unmasking,” proposes that forensic medical experts should first form an initial impression based “solely on the raw data/evidence, devoid of any reference material or context, even if relevant. Only thereafter can they consider what other information they should receive and in what order based on its objectivity, relevance, and biasing power.” The authors note potential exceptions to the method and reference the well-publicized statement by the medical examiner in the George Floyd murder that he didn’t want to bias his autopsy by watching the video of the lethal assault on Mr Floyd (which is difficult to justify, as the information of the immediate history preceding the death may indicate the need for special procedures in the autopsy, such as a detailed neck organ dissection).

We present this study, the full text of which can be found here, not as an endorsement but rather as a discussion launch point. Is LSU-E a practicable methodology for forensic medicine generally? Could you put it to use in your practice? Does it offer increased reliability of forensic investigations, or only increased bother? Are there other methods for improving the reliability of forensic medical investigations that are preferable?

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