ST2AR will seek to conduct independent research and support forensic research projects initiated outside of the organization. Support of outside research may include financial assistance provided by the organization to an individual or group by awarding research grants. Assistance may also be provided by the organization in the form of intellectual assistance and/or the sharing of other non-financial related resources on a case-by-case basis.
“Validity, Reliability and Accuracy in Forensic Signature Identification”
Agency: Kentucky State University
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mara Merlino
Overview of Project Description: This research will address several of the most important areas of forensic document examination presently at issue in state and federal courts. The research will investigate the existence and nature of expertise related to forensic document examination and the evaluation and interpretation of the salient features of signature specimens.
A sample of 120 forensic document examiners (FDEs) will be asked to participate in a preliminary survey assessing the nature and extent of their education, training, and experience, and other credentials in the field. They will also be asked to share their views about the present methods of FDE education and training. Using eye-tracking methodology, the researchers will explore how FDEs and laypeople extract information from handwritten signatures. They will also verbally elicit via semi-structured interviews information about examiners’ and laypeople’s opinions concerning the evidential value of the features within signatures they evaluate. This combination of quantitative and qualitative information will allow them to quantitatively analyze the visual and cognitive steps that FDEs and laypeople employ to render decisions and to obtain an understanding of the relationship between the kind and extent of evidential information contained in signature specimens and the accuracy of examiner and layperson decision making about the source of questioned signatures.
Outcome/Impact: This research will address several critical issues that are currently facing FDEs, such as development of standardized training and proficiency testing, measures of reliability in signature identification, and method transparency.
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