Academic English Skills Coursework 1: Source Evaluation and Essay Outline
Name:
Jingqi Hong
Class:
1_FLS_2A Date:
28/09/18
Title:
With an increasing number of wrongful convictions based on DNA evidence coming to light, some say we should no longer rely on DNA evidence in court. To what extent do you agree with this statement? Discuss the benefits and dangers of using DNA evidence to convict people and support your arguments with reference to relevant data and examples. (argument)
Part 1: Source Evaluation Explanation of why you have selected the sources for use.

Complete the table below for FOUR sources you have found which are reliable and relevant for your essay. You should not use sources you were given in this section.
EVALUATION 1
Reference: Clarke (2007)
How do you know this source is suitable for academic use? Refer to the currency, authority, purpose, reliability of evidence or data, objectivity, use of expected academic conventions.

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The author, George Clarke, has been a judge of the Superior Court since 2003. He was an early advocate for the use of DNA as a forensic tool and used it as his speciality in solving cases across the country. His role in the prosecution team against the case of O.J. Simpson brought him national acclaim and was a stepping stone to the acceptance of DNA profiling in the courtroom. While the content of the book is a personal account of Clarke’s and could be viewed as biased, the events mentioned are all real life cases and can easily be fact-checked. This online version of the book comes from JSTOR, a well-reputed digital library dating as far back as 1995. In addition, the book is published by Rutgers University Press under Rutgers University, a leading university in public research located in the United States. The book was released in 2007, which is relatively recent and therefore applicable to current DNA research.
How is the source relevant to your title? What are the useful points / arguments made in the text?
The book explores the history of using DNA as evidence and how its early successes paved the way for its integration into criminal investigations. Real-life cases are debated to show that the slightest bit of DNA evidence can exonerate those involved. Emphasis is placed on the precision of DNA profiling and how it has revolutionised criminology.
Key points in the text include:
The high accuracy of DNA profiling means that relatives of the original donor can be identified as well, which is useful when the suspect is reluctant to provide a DNA sample.

Profiles are permanent once entered into the database. As such, DNA evidence is not only used to close cold cases, but also to link different crimes committed by the same individual.

When coupled with a clear confession, DNA evidence serves as concrete proof to pronounce a defendant guilty.

EVALUATION 2
Reference: Ligertwood (2011)
How do you know this source is suitable for academic use? Refer to the currency, authority, purpose, reliability of evidence or data, objectivity, use of expected academic conventions.

This research article comes from the thirty-third volume of the Sydney Law Review, a peer-reviewed law journal that was established in 1953. It is issued by the University of Sydney, a reputable university in Australia. Andrew Ligertwood, who wrote this article, is currently a researcher of forensic evidence at Adelaide Law School. His contributions to other well-known journals like the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies and the Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences have made him an outstanding figure in Australian forensic law. This work contains detailed footnotes to external sources and references, further increasing its accountability. HeinOnline (HOL), the online platform to publish the journal, is a trusted internet database consisting of government legal texts. The article was published in 2011, thus the legal terminologies and procedures mentioned are up to date and still used today.

How is the source relevant to your title? What are the useful points / arguments made in the text?
The article discusses the nature of DNA evidence in court and how it differs from other types of identification evidence. It also brings up the statistical aspect of DNA profiling by evaluating a DNA match in the form of probability. This sets the clear definition of what constitutes proof and contributes to the line of reasoning that DNA evidence should only be taken as indication of guilt to a certain extent.

Key points in the text include:
In the case of a witness contradicting DNA evidence, it is crucial to carry out additional assessments (cross-examination of witness, retesting of DNA sample) to determine which form of evidence overrules the other.

The two ways of analysing DNA evidence are by means of inductive proof (using logic to make inferences) and mathematical proof (using numerical data to draw a conclusion). Each method comes with its own benefits and problems.

Two types of reliability should be taken into consideration when using DNA evidence in court– the reliability of the theory of DNA evidence and the reliability of the DNA sample itself.

EVALUATION 3
Reference: Easteal, McLeod and Reed (1991)
How do you know this source is suitable for academic use? Refer to the currency, authority, purpose, reliability of evidence or data, objectivity, use of expected academic conventions.

Professor Simon Easteal earned his doctorate at the Australian National University and has supervised more than 25 PhD students himself. He is a member of many scientific committees, such as the Scientific Advisory Board of Entigen Bioinformatics Inc. and the Scientific Advisory Committee of Genetic Technologies. Professor Neil McLeod, who also did his bachelors and masters in law at the Australian National University, is a PhD graduate from the National University of Ireland. He currently lectures at the Faculty of Law at the Australian National University in Canberra. Ken Reed, the Director of the Agricultural Biotechnology Centre in the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, continues to collaborate with other members of academia at Deakin University. As all three authors are figures of importance in their chosen field (genetics, law and biotechnology respectively), it is safe to conclude the content is fitting to be used as an academic source. There is a bibliography, case index and subject index at the end of the book, making it reliable and fit for academic use. This book also includes the exact technical procedures used to produce the data in the writing. As said experiments can be replicated and expected to give way to the same results, the objectivity of the book is strengthened and the risk of bias is reduced. The currency of the book may be questionable as it was released more than 20 years ago. However, there have been no particular breakthroughs in the field of DNA evidence since then – therefore, the contents are still relevant today.

How is the source relevant to your title? What are the useful points / arguments made in the text?
The book breaks down the mechanism of DNA and how it is extracted from a sample to be interpreted as forensic evidence. It also considers the legal technicalities that can be used to challenge DNA profiling in court. This information supports the argument that DNA profiling is not a fool proof method of conviction.

Key points in the text include:
DNA has to undergo denaturation before it can be tested to find a match. This is a problem when samples of DNA are too small to be digested without being damaged.

There are three main factors when it comes to evaluating DNA evidence in court – purity, quantity and quality.

A DNA match between two samples does not equate to both samples coming from the same person. Rather, it shows that the samples share too many similarities to be distinguished from each other using traditional experimental procedures.

EVALUATION 4
Reference: Semikhodskii (2007)
How do you know this source is suitable for academic use? Refer to the currency, authority, purpose, reliability of evidence or data, objectivity, use of expected academic conventions.

Before being appointed as the Director of Medical Genomics Ltd., Andrew Semikhodskii had worked in the fields of forensic DNA analysis, neuroscience, molecular biology and genetics. His expertise in DNA is evident in his numerous published journals, which discuss the density of genetic mapping and mutation in mammals. Semikhodskii travels globally to give lectures on DNA analysis and the interpretation of forensic evidence. This book has a stamp of approval from the British Library, which can be inferred from the catalogue record available there. Statements in the book are supported by a reference list that includes external sources for further reading, adding to its credibility. The publisher, Routledge-Cavendish, is a highly-rated source of academic content in the United Kingdom. The printing of the book in 2007 is an indication of its high currency.

How is the source relevant to your title? What are the useful points / arguments made in the text?
This book explains which areas of DNA make an individual unique from another. It emphasizes on the role of DNA as an identification tool instead of a method of conviction and discusses the disadvantages of viewing DNA profiling as irrefutable evidence of guilt. Rebuttals against the misconception that DNA evidence is infallible are included as well, adding further validation that DNA by itself should not be used to convict a perpetrator.
Key points in the text include:
The two marker systems used to compare similarities in DNA coding are Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis and Variable Number Tandem Repeat (VNTR) analysis.

The national DNA database only consists of DNA samples that have been recovered from crime scenes. Statistically this shows that certain racial groups are at a disadvantage when it comes to looking for a DNA match.

While all precautions can be taken to ensure a DNA profile is satisfactory to be used as evidence, misinterpretation in court (known as prosecutor’s fallacy) can still render a DNA sample useless.

Part 2: Essay Outline
Provide a clear plan of your essay, including the key points you will include, and the sources you will use to support your points. You can use the sources you were given, as well as your own sources.
Title:
Plan for overall structure
Introduction
P1.
P2.
P3.
P4.
P5.
Conclusion
Introductory paragraph structure
Background Outline Thesis statement Paragraph 1 Topic sentence
Supporting points Evidence / example/ data Citation
Concluding / linking sentence
Paragraph 2 Topic sentence
Support Evidence / example/ data Citation
Concluding / linking sentence
Paragraph 3 Topic sentence
Support Evidence / example/ data Citation
Concluding / linking sentence
Paragraph 4 Topic sentence
Support Evidence / example/ data Citation
Paragraph 5 Topic sentence
Support Evidence / example/ data Citation
Conclusion
Part 3: Sources
Write a reference list for at least SIX sources which you have found yourself. You should include the two sources you were given if you plan to use them in your essay.
Briody, M. (2004) ‘The Effects of DNA Evidence on Homicide Cases in Court’, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 37(2), pp. 231-252. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1375%2Facri.37.2.231. (Accessed: 3 October 2018)
Clarke, G. (2007) Justice and Science: Trials and Triumphs of DNA evidence. JSTOR (online). Available at: www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hj5qb. (Accessed: 3 October 2018)
Easteal S., McLeod, N. and Reed, K. (1991) DNA Profiling: Principles, Pitfalls and Potential – A Handbook of DNA-based Evidence for the Legal, Forensic and Law Enforcement Professions. Poststrasse 22, Switzerland: Harwood Academic Publishers.
Ligertwood, A. (2011) ‘Can DNA Evidence Alone Convict an Accused’, Sydney Law Review, 33(3), pp. 487-514. Available at: https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/sydney33&i=494. (Accessed: 3 October 2018)
Naughton, M. and Tan, G. (2011) ‘The Need for Caution in the Use of DNA Evidence to Avoid Convicting the Innocent’, The International Journal of Evidence & Proof, 15(3), pp. 245-257. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1350%2Fijep.2011.15.3.380. (Accessed: 3 October 2018)
Semikhodskii, A. (2007) Dealing with DNA Evidence: A Legal Guide. United Kingdom: Routledge-Cavendish.

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