How do forensic scientists learn to become competent in casework reporting in practice: a theoretical and empirical approach.
ABSTRACT In their day-to-day work, carrying out complex tasks, forensic scientists use a combination of explicit, codified standard operating procedures and tacit knowledge developed through their ongoing practice. We show that tacit knowledge is an integral part of the activities of expert forensic science practitioners who continually add to their knowledge repertoire by engaging other scientists through communities of practice. We wish to shed fresh light on the gaining of tacit knowledge by forensic scientists during their apprentice formative years, termed as legitimate peripheral participation. In quantifying tacit knowledge exchanges, we use social network analysis, a methodology for the analysis of social structures, to map relational knowledge flows between forensic scientists within communities of practice at the Forensic Science Laboratory, Ireland. This paper sheds light on the importance of tacit knowledge within the training regime of forensic scientists and its recognition as equal to the part played by explicit knowledge.