“Every year thousands of research projects are undertaken by students and the majority of these are not formally published. This is a huge loss, because that research could be used to help solve real world cases and deliver justice to our society.”
Dr Rachel Bolton-King, Associate Professor of Forensic Science
Students across the globe are being encouraged to share research which could help to prevent miscarriages of justice.
Research4Justice is an online toolkit and repository designed to disseminate research, particularly from undergraduate and Masters students, to fellow researchers and justice system professionals around the world.
The project is led by Associate Professor of Forensic Science Dr Rachel Bolton-King and Professor John Cassella at Staffordshire University in collaboration with Brian Rankin from the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences and Professor Ruth Morgan from University College London.
Dr Bolton-King explained: “Every year thousands of research projects are undertaken by students and the majority of these are not formally published. This is a huge loss, because that research could be used to help solve real world cases and deliver justice to our society.”
Research4Justice officially launched at an event hosted by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences last month and the team behind the project are calling on universities to register their interest through the platform and upload student research.
“The key driver for us is that we want people who work in the industry such as lawyers, forensics scientists, police officers and health professionals to be able to access student research which might help them do their job.
“A lot of the time, practitioners don't have time to conduct their own research and so we really want to increase networking between academia and industry. This way, we can help them find and carry out relevant research which could aid the detection, recovery, analysis and interpretation of evidence or which might add value to evidence presented in court.”
The database covers the whole justice system and includes research relevant to both criminal and civil cases. It also features an online toolkit to provide a one-stop-shop where users can access professional resources and networks that may support their research and development of practice.
Staffordshire University's School of Law, Policing and Forensics has a strong focus on industry collaboration and Dr Bolton-King was also part of the team that developed the Staffordshire Forensic Partnership with Staffordshire Police, which promotes training and development, student placements and projects.
She said: “We need to be better able to collaborate and network with each other all over the world because we have the same problems and the same questions are being asked.
“This repository will also enable students to see what has already been researched, what needs more work, provide opportunities to network with other researchers and hopefully find inspiration for their own projects.”
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