Forensic entomology is an inferential science because postmortem interval estimates are based on the extrapolation of results obtained in field or laboratory settings. Although enormous gains in scientific understanding and methodological practice have been made in forensic entomology over the last few decades, a majority of the field studies we reviewed do not meet the standards for inference, which are 1) adequate replication, 2) independence of experimental units, and 3) experimental conditions that capture a representative range of natural variability. Using a mock case-study approach, we identify design flaws in field and lab experiments and suggest methodological solutions for increasing inference strength that can inform future casework. Suggestions for improving data reporting in future field studies are also proposed.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1