National Academy of Sciences “Standardization”: On What Terms?

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The frequently cited 2009 National Academy of Sciences Report entitled “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward” has become a focal point of forensic science practitioners' discussions and research since its publication. One of its recommendations is “Standardized Terminology and Reporting”. Little has been published to date on this topic, although conversations and dialogs on the subject are ongoing. The upshot of this communication is to draw attention to the problem of one term in particular, perimortem, which may be only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” in the lexicon-related concerns of forensic scientists. Even if it is an isolated issue, it is one that reflects the need for a consensus on term use and definitions by interdisciplinary practitioners who are currently using the term haphazardly, to the confusion of colleagues and potentially finders-of-fact in the courts.

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