Understanding Uncertainty in Forensic Science and the Law - Dr Kristy Martire

What is this research about?

Uncertainty is an unavoidable part of science and science communication. It is also a central element of decision making in the law. However, the expression and interpretation of uncertainty can be challenging.

What does it mean to believe someone is ‘guilty beyond a reasonable doubt’? How much weight should be given to evidence that is described as providing ‘strong support’?

In this project lay, legal and scientific perspectives on the formulation and comprehension of uncertainty are explored in order to improve science communication and criminal justice outcomes.

Other researchers involved:

Dr Kaye Ballantyne 
Professor Christian Dahlman 
Professor Gary Edmond 
Professor Richard Kemp
A/Professor Dan Navarro
Professor Ben Newell
Agnes Bali [phd candidate]
Stephanie Summersby [phd candidate]
Jennifer Grant [phd candidate]

Publications relating to this research:

Martire, K. A., Edmond, G., Navarro, D. J., & Newell, B. R. (2017). On the likelihood of “encapsulating all uncertainty”. Science & Justice, 57(1), 76-79.

Martire, K. A., Kemp, R. I., Sayle, M., & Newell, B. R. (2014). On the interpretation of likelihood ratios in forensic science evidence: Presentation formats and the weak evidence effect. Forensic science international, 240, 61-68.

Howes, L. M., Martire, K. A., & Kelty, S. F. (2014). Response to recommendation 2 of the 2009 NAS report—standards for formatting and reporting expert evaluative opinions: where do we stand?. Forensic Science Policy & Management: An International Journal, 5(1-2), 1-14.

Martire, K. A., Kemp, R. I., & Newell, B. R. (2013). The psychology of interpreting expert evaluative opinions. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 45(3), 305-314.

Martire, K. A., Kemp, R. I., Watkins, I., Sayle, M. A., & Newell, B. R. (2013). The expression and interpretation of uncertain forensic science evidence: verbal equivalence, evidence strength, and the weak evidence effect. Law and human behavior, 37(3), 197.


ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award DE140100183 ARC Linkage Project LP160100008 (with Dr Kaye Ballantyne, Professor Gary Edmond, Professor Richard Kemp)


This work is a product of collaborations through the Evidence-Based Forensics Initiative . More information can be found at Dr Kristy Martire.