Introduction

Foundational Statistics for Forensic Toxicology Webinar Series

Foundational Statistics for Forensic Toxicology Webinar Series

Overview

In the field of Forensic Toxicology, numerical data and statistics abound, appearing in quantitative analyses, quality control, measurement uncertainty, proficiency testing, method validation, experimental design, peer-reviewed journal articles, business analytics, and more. Foundational statistical knowledge is critical to understanding forensic toxicology work, assessing its significance and reliability, and communicating such to stakeholders. This is not a comprehensive statistics course for forensic toxicologists, nor is it a replacement for formal coursework in mathematics, statistics, or applied statistics. This series attempts to connect statistical terms and concepts to the specific applications of statistics in forensic toxicology in a manner accessible to professionals of all levels of experience. The data and statistical terms commonly encountered in forensic toxicology form the focus of this series. 

This six-part series provides a fundamental knowledge base in statistics before advancing into more complex concepts. This series aims to address common questions that arise in forensic toxicology and to increase both the attendees’ confidence of what they know and the awareness of what they have yet to learn. Commonly encountered data types and both descriptive and inferential statistics will be defined and discussed. Practical examples from toxicology applications are presented to help contextualize the terms and concepts.  

The series invites participation and questions from live attendees and begins with an overview of basic terms and definitions in Session 1. Next, Session 2 introduces distributions and ways to characterize distributions and data. Session 3 demystifies statistical tests and hypothesis testing. Session 4 digs into the use of quality controls, covering theory, usage and the various elements of control charts. Session 5 covers a specific and practical application of control data, the calculation of Type A data for the estimation of measurement uncertainty, a common source of statistical knowledge uncertainty. The series concludes with a fireside chat with subject matter experts where specific questions and challenges are addressed. Live attendance and questions are highly encouraged. 

Webinar Series Details

Sessions begin with fundamental and widely used terminology before advancing into more complex concepts and practical applications. Throughout the sessions, practical day-to-day applications within the toxicology laboratory are provided as illustrative examples. This series aims to address common questions that arise in forensic toxicology and to increase both the attendees’ confidence of what they know and the awareness of what they have yet to learn. 

Attendees must view the sessions in chronological order live or as the recorded archive. For example: if Session 1: Series Introduction & Basics has not been viewed, an attendee will not be able to access the live or archived version of Session 2: Distributions & Standard Deviation.

Session Chairs:
Sue Pearring | Quality Manager, San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
Aria McCall | Technical Lead, Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office - Toxicology

Session Topics Session Date Session Duration
Session 1 | Intro & Basics Thursday, May 9, 2024 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
Session 2 | Distributions & Standard Deviation Thursday, May 23, 2024 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
Session 3 | Statistical Tests and Hypothesis Testing Thursday, May 30, 2024 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
Session 4 | Use of Controls and Other Control Chart Elements Thursday, June 20, 2024 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
Session 5 | Calculation of Type A Data from Control Data for Measurement Uncertainty Thursday, July 11, 2024 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
Session 6 | Let’s Talk About Stats Thursday, July 18, 2024 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET

Session 1 | Intro & Basics

Thursday, May 9, 2024 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern
Duration: 1 hour

Overview

This session provides an overview of the fundamental principles of statistics as encountered and applied in forensic toxicology. Various elements of statistics are often utilized or relied upon by scientists to describe produced results and to demonstrate if forensic instruments or processes are “working” or “in-control”. Here we establish the basic terminology for the principles of statistical analysis. Participants will begin to be better equipped to interpret and analyze forensic toxicology data accurately and effectively. 

Detailed Learning Objectives

  1. Attendees will be introduced to the series origin and objective and be provided an overview of the six-part series.
  2. Attendees will have a platform to ask questions freely for professionals with basic to advanced knowledge of statistics.
  3. Attendees will be provided common terms, definitions, and usages in data analysis and statistics in forensic toxicology.

Session 2 | Distributions & Standard Deviation

Thursday, May 23, 2024 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern
Duration: 1 hour

Overview

This session explores various distributions commonly encountered in forensic toxicology (normal, rectangular, etc.). Participants will learn about the characteristics of these distributions and how they manifest in toxicological data. Also, this session covers statistical measures that can describe and compare distributions, including variance, standard deviation, and relative standard deviation. Through practical examples, participants will gain insight into how these statistical techniques are applied in forensic toxicology. 

Detailed Learning Objectives

  1. Attendees will be provided definitions and examples of distributions encountered in forensic toxicology. 
  2. Attendees will increase their understanding of the distinctions between various distributions and the implications therein. 
  3. Attendees will be provided terms and definitions of descriptive statistics for distributions and appropriate usage in forensic toxicology. 

Session 3 | Statistical Tests and Hypothesis Testing

Thursday, May 30, 2024 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern
Duration: 1 hour

Overview

Session 3 demystifies statistical tests and hypothesis testing. More details to come!

Session 4 | Use of Controls and Other Control Chart Elements

Thursday, June 20, 2024 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern
Duration: 1 hour

Overview

Session 4 digs into the use of quality controls, covering theory, usage and the various elements of control charts. More details to come!

Session 5 | Calculation of Type A Data from Control Data for Measurement Uncertainty

Thursday, July 11, 2024 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern
Duration: 1 hour

Overview

Session 5 covers a specific and practical application of control data, the calculation of Type A data for the estimation of measurement uncertainty, a common source of statistical knowledge uncertainty. More details to come!

Session 6 | Let’s Talk About Stats

Thursday, July 18, 2024 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern
Duration: 1 hour

Overview

In Session 6, the series concludes with a fireside chat with subject matter experts where specific questions and challenges are addressed. More details to come!


Related Resources


Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence event was provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

All Forensic Technology Center of Excellence live webinars are hosted using Zoom Webinar. Live webinars are archived and posted on our website within two weeks of their airing. Archived webinars do not require access to the Zoom platform.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this event are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Contact us at ForensicCOE@rti.org with any questions and subscribe to our newsletter for notifications.


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