Forensic Anthropology in Popular Media

Short Case Study 1: Forensic Anthropology in Popular Media
Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday of Week 2

The goal of this exercise is to observe a ‘forensic investigation’ as portrayed in the popular media and provide a critique from the perspective of a forensic anthropologist-in-training (i.e. based on everything you have learned in the course to-date). The student will analyze how the popular media may accurately and inaccurately depict forensic science. The student will situate their observations in terms of course themes such as qualifications, ethical responsibilities, recovery techniques, and methods of analysis.

Popular media has played an important role in generating public interest in the field of forensics and specialty fields such as forensic anthropology. Select an episode of CSI, Bones, Cold Case, Criminal Minds or one of the other popular “forensic science” television series. Choose a series and episode that present a fictitious case, you should not use a documentary based on real evidence and a real case. Choose an episode that you can re-watch if necessary (rent it, record it, download it). Consider the characters, the physical evidence, and the scientific methods and procedures used in the episode. Then investigate the issues so that you can answer the questions in the outline below. Write a 3-4 page narrative commentary that includes the following:

1. Case background
a. Identify the series and episode (use a name or number).
b. Summarize the plot of the episode including the crime itself, how remains were recovered, and what analyses were performed to identify the remains (~one paragraph)
c. Define forensic anthropology
d. Identify the role of the forensic anthropologist in the episode. If the episode doesn’t clearly identify a forensic anthropologist, describe who was responsible for assessing human remains in this episode
e. Identify supporting scientists. What other specialty areas were represented by experts? For example: forensic odontologist, forensic botanist, pathologist, forensic entomologist?
2. Analysis of methods
a. Evaluate the scene investigation and recovery methods. You may want to use the textbooks to help you determine what essential elements in investigation and recovery were met and unmet.
b. Was evidence handled in a consistent and documented manner? Consider your reading about the Chain of Evidence.
c. Were all of the forensic scientists and other professional involved in the investigation working within their area of training and expertise? If so, why is that important? If not, what are potential issues with their ‘expert’ evaluation of the evidence?
3. Conclusion
a. Summarize what the screen writers did right and what they did wrong. In the credits, did you note any indication of professional consultation with someone with forensic qualifications or experience?
b. Why are these programs appealing to the general American audience? What is the utility of these types of programs?
4. References
a. Include one additional outside source (not a dictionary or encyclopedia) in your write-up. You should both cite the source to demonstrate how you used the source in your assignment and also provide a reference. This outside source may be a popular source or a primary source. You should not use collaborative or personal opinion sources such as blogs, social networking pages, Wikipedia,,,, Encyclopedia Britannica, etc.

General requirements:

Submissions should be typed, double-spaced, 1″ margins, times new roman 12 pt font, and saved as .doc, .docx, .pdf.
Use APA format for citations and references
View the grading rubric so you understand how you will be assessed on this Assignment. 
Disclaimer- Originality of attachments will be verified by Turnitin. Both you and your instructor will receive the results.
This course has “Resubmission” status enabled to help you if you realized you submitted an incorrect or blank file, or if you need to submit multiple documents as part of your Assignment. Resubmission of an Assignment after it is grades, to attempt a better grade, is not permitted.