University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Enhancing the readability of expert reports

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 20:29 authored by Loene HowesLoene Howes
A key role of forensic scientists is to provide findings and expert opinion that may help to address questions of law. Although expert reports are often prepared with a potential court case in mind, their use by police officers in investigations and lawyers in pre-trial contexts suggests that they must be comprehensible to a range of possible readers. The report may be the only communication from forensic scientists to other criminal justice practitioners, making it necessary for forensic scientists to anticipate their information needs. However, challenges exist for forensic scientists in writing expert reports in ways that are both scientifically accurate and comprehensible for a range of readers. Not only is it challenging for forensic scientists to think in lay terms about their specialist forensic discipline, but they receive limited feedback on the suitability of their reports from criminal justice practitioners. Readability analyses can assist forensic scientists to overcome these challenges. Using a holistic approach to assessing readability, reports are examined for various criteria associated with the completeness and coherence of the content included, the logic of its sequence, the language used, and the format in which it is presented. This presentation discusses readability as a guiding principle for the revision of reporting templates. It outlines the elements to be considered and notes some aspects of expert reports that might pose difficulties for readers. Finally, the presentation makes several recommendations to enhance the readability of the reports, with the understanding that revising reporting templates is an ongoing process.



School of Social Sciences


Australasian Society of Forensic Document Examiners Incorporated (ASFDE Inc)

Place of publication


Event title

Australasian Society of Forensic Document Examiners Incorporated (ASFDE Inc) 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting

Event Venue


Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Criminal justice; Legal processes

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager