I am Steffan Jonkers, have a background in chemistry and graduated from the MSc Forensic Science in July 2016 with a chemometrics research project on fire debris data. During the master I was a member of the Programme Committee. I will try to explain to you why I found it important to attend the presentations that fellow students gave when finishing their literature theses and their research projects, the so-called colloquia presentations. Attendance at a number of these is required, and for good reasons.
The MSc Forensic Science is an interdisciplinary programme and students have a wide variety of academic backgrounds. Consequently, the research that they carry out covers a large part of the forensic spectrum. Attending a number of colloquia presentations allows for a good and up to date overview of innovative forensic research, which can provide the students with inspiration for their own literature theses and research projects. Furthermore, attending the presentations provides students with opportunities to develop a critical mind, to learn which kind of statements are safe to make, what experimental setups are considered sound and robust, and it aids the students in finding out what they like or dislike in terms of lay-out and presenting style.
A fundamental element in scientific research is reproducibility – that is, studies should have the ability to be duplicated. Proper communication of underlying theory, methods, techniques and results is key in that regard. For that reason, exit qualifications of the MSc Forensic Science, found in the Teaching and Exam Regulations, part B, include the following:
Giving colloquia presentations helps moving towards this goal, since such a presentation is one of the few possibilities for our students to get feedback from people other than their supervisors on the research they have carried out on their own, and as such one of the few moments in which the understanding of a non-expert audience can be tested. In the discussion, flaws in the research or things that were not clear to audience will surface. Questions from such a non-expert audience can lead to better understanding of how to explain the material because answers will have to be formulated in relatively simple terms. Furthermore, they can lead to ideas for future research. Finally, whether the student will end up in research or in industry, he is likely to have to present at congresses or at other occasions, which is always good to practise.
Some tips to (future) students of the MSc Forensic Science: