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Book Review of Forensic Science Glossary (John C. Brenner) by Switaj (Forensic Science Communications, January 2000)

Book Review of Forensic Science Glossary (John C. Brenner) by Switaj (Forensic Science Communications, January 2000)


January 2000 - Volume 2 - Number 1


Book Review

Forensic Science Glossary
by John C. Brenner
CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 2000
ISBN 0-8493-1196-9

Acronyms are notorious in every area of research and study from anthropology to zoology, and the field of forensic science is no different. All too often we become so comfortable in our areas of expertise that we tend to forget others may not understand the techno-talk we use in conversation and writings. When those who rely on our work fail to understand the terminology being used or, even worse, fail to ask for an explanation, serious and sometimes catastrophic mistakes can occur. John C. Brenner’s Forensic Science Glossary is a first step—a Rosetta Stone of sorts—in the clarification of forensic science terminology.

The Forensic Science Glossary is structured similarly to a standard dictionary. Terms and acronyms commonly used in many areas of forensic science, including DNA analysis, latent print analysis, firearms identification, and document analysis, are grouped alphabetically with short definitions and explanations. In some instances one term may be defined with other terms that may not be familiar to the layperson, and these defining terms may or may not be listed with further explanation in the glossary. As a result, the best course of action may still involve calling a forensic examiner to obtain a complete, and completely understandable, explanation.

Though its scope is somewhat limited, this small handbook is a welcome effort in the creation of a convenient reference source for any individual interested in or associated with forensic science or the work of specialists in this field. With future revisions and additions, the Forensic Science Glossary will be a definite asset to all professions that rely upon the expertise of the forensic scientist.

Reviewed by: Mary E. Switaj
  Training Instructor
  Forensic Science Training Unit
  Federal Bureau of Investigation
  Quantico, Virginia


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