JFI Frequently Asked Questions

General questions | JFI Human Subjects Research FAQ

Q: What is the circulation of the JFI?
A: Circulation varies throughout the year. However, for each of the last five years, the yearly average circulation has been above 7,000 paid hardcopy mailings. The JFI has one of the largest circulations of criminal justice forensics information in the world.
Q: What is the readership of the JFI?
A: Currently (December 2013), the IAI has more than 7,100 members, with 1,000 members from outside of the United States. Of the members 122, are students and 456 are associate members. Approximately 90% of our members are involved in crime scene work, fingerprints, or both. In addition to our members, many universities and other institutions subscribe to the JFI or have access to it via EBSCO Host services under the Criminal Justice Abstracts with full text database service.
Q: How often is the JFI published?
A: It is published quarterly.
Q: How long does it take a paper to be published?
A: Within two to three months, most papers are reviewed and the author is notified about whether we intend to publish the paper. After acceptance, most papers are published online within another two to four months. The hardcopy JFI is then published and distributed approximately one month later.
Q: Do you have to be a member of the International Association for Identification (IAI) to submit an article for publication?
A: No, a decision to publish any paper is based on the paper itself. IAI membership status does not influence whether an article is accepted for publication.
Q: What is the rate of acceptance for submitted manuscripts?
A: Although most submitted manuscripts will require revision, approximately 65% of all submitted manuscripts are published.
Q: Is the JFI printed in color?
A: Yes, many articles are printed at the editor's discretion, without cost to the author, in color.
Q: Should I submit images in color or in black and white?
A: Unless presenting a figure in a monochrome mode is beneficial to the presentation of information, all images should be submitted in color. Electronic copies of articles are available in color even if the actual printed copy used monochrome printing.
Q: What types of papers are published in the JFI?
A: Commentaries, Letters to the Editor, Case Reports, Technical Notes, and Articles.
Q: Who should be listed as an author or coauthor?
A: Only the five individuals who have made the most substantial contribution to the concept and design of the work or the acquistion or analysis of the data


drafted or substantially contributed to the writing or revising of the manuscript


are responsible for the accuracy of the information and final manuscript. (If the research and writing were separated and not all authors are familiar or responsible for some portions, that should be made known in the manuscript.)
Q: Should I obtain written permission from individuals who are thanked in the acknowledgment section?
A: Yes, you should obtain written permission from each person named with an acknowledgment. Acknowledgment of an individual or institution may imply endorsement of the information.
Q: May I submit a manuscript to both the JFI and another publication?
A: The JFI will only consider manuscripts that have not been published or are under consideration by another publication. If your manuscript is under consideration by another publication it will not be accepted for review until that consideration is terminated. When you submit your manuscript to the JFI you are required to assign the copyrights to the JFI (see the "Authorization to Publish" form) and no longer have the legal authority to submit the manuscript elsewhere unless that assignment of copyright is terminated or withdrawn.
Q: May I submit a manuscript to another after it is published in the JFI?
A: The JFI does permit the republishing of specific manuscripts in non-profit publications such as IAI division newsletters. However, some restrictions do apply:
  • Written permission from the JFI editor must be obtained prior to reprinting any article from the JFI. This permission will be at the sole discretion of the editor and he may contact the original author(s) for his or her concurrence when deemed appropriate.
  • Credit indicating that the material is a reprint from the Journal of Forensic Identification is required on all reprinted articles.
  • Any publication that is reprinting material from the JFI will reprint a maximum of two JFI articles (including case and technical notes) in a single issue. (No more than two articles may be requested at given time.)
  • No publication may reprint more than three articles in a calendar year.
  • Only JFI articles that are at least six months old at the time permission is requested will be considered.
Q: Why do the instructions for submitting a manuscript indicate to separate out the tables, figures, graphs, and captions instead of formatting the paper into a continuous flow of text with the figures and captions appropriately placed?
A: Three reasons: (1) I like the reviewers to easily separate what is presented as information in text and what is presented as a caption. Captions should not present new information that is not included in the text of the manuscript. (2) It facilitates a more efficient organization of the files for producing the JFI. (3) Because of the difference between the JFI layout and the difference of a standard sheet of paper, the layout created by the author will not be suitable for publication in the JFI. (Even with authors try to mimic the JFI layout, subtle differences will not permit using the author's layout.)
Q: What type of review process will occur?
A: All commentaries, case reports, technical notes, and articles go through a double-blind review process by a minimum of two reviewers with expertise in the subject matter.
Q: Are reviewers all members of the IAI?
A: Invitation and appointment to the editorial review board requires membership in the IAI. However, the editor may seek out and invite individuals who are not members of IAI to act as guest reviewers. This frequently occurs when an additional subject matter expert is needed for a particular paper.
Q: Can IAI members apply for the JFI Editorial Review Board?
A: IAI members who are interested in serving on the editorial review board may contact the editor. He will gather specific background information about the interested party and may allow him or her to be a guest reviewers for a period of time and then decide whether to invite the individual to serve as a regular member of the editorial review board. It is suggested, but not required, that interested persons have previously published two or more papers in the JFI or another peer-reviewed publication.
Q: Can I find out after the reviews are completed who the reviewers were?
A: No, the reviewers are not identified to each other or to the author at any time. And the reviewers will only know the identify of the author if and when the manuscript is published.

JFI Human Subjects Research FAQ

Q: Why does the JFI have a Human Subjects Protection Policy?
A: The JFI supports the IAI's Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, which includes supporting sound scientific techniques and practices. The JFI Human Subject Protection Policy provides authors and researchers who intend to publish in the JFI with the IAI's standards that ensure that sound scientific techniques and practices regarding the treatment of human subjects have been met.
Q: How do I know if my research involves human subjects?
A: Research that involves collecting or analyzing information obtained from an individual person whose responses are the object of the study is considered human subject research. Some examples of human subject research include when participants complete questionnaires, they participate in interviews, their behavior is observed, and their opinions of their activities are studied. The use of identifiable data about individuals and studies that involve fingerprints, human tissues, and DNA for research purposes also qualifies.

The regulations at 28 CFR 46.102 (d) define research as "... a systematic investigation, including research, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge." Human subject is defined in section 46.102(f) as "... a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (1) Data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) Identifiable private information". Intervention includes procedures by which data are gathered and manipulations to the subject or subject's environment are made for research purposes. Interaction includes communication or interpersonal contact between the researcher and the subject of the study. Private information covers observation or recording of behavior when an individual can expect that this behavior is not being observed and information provided by an individual about himself or herself for a specific purpose that the individual can expect will not be made public (e.g., personal data provided in response to questionnaires or for medical records). Private information must be identifiable to an individual or readily associated by the investigator or linked with the data to qualify as research involving human subjects.
Q: Does human subject research include any collection and use of what is considered personally identifiable information (PII) and data?
A: No, it pertains only to the collection of personally identifiable information (e.g., fingerprints, hair, DNA) from live subjects recruited for a research project.
Q: Where can I find additional information regarding general information about PII?
A: Additional guidance on this topic can be obtained by reading 28 CFR Part 22, Confidentiality of Identifiable Research and Statistical Information (http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/28/22).
Q: Does the JFI Human Subjects Protection Policy prohibit the use of all PII information (e.g., record prints, hair samples, or identified latent prints) from actual cases?
A: No, although identifiable, they are obtained through routine operations and are not collected and used for research purposes. Accordingly, fingerprint images such as those patterns regularly included in the "Back to Basics" section in the JFI are not research and therefore do not fall under human protections issues and therefore no consent form would be needed from the source of the fingerprint. This would also apply to crime scene latent prints and other PII evidence used in case reports.
Q: Do human subject research requirements apply to cadavers?
A: No, a human subject is defined as a living individual. The authors should state, how, where, and with what legal authority the personally identifiable information (e.g., fingerprints, hair, DNA) was obtained when presenting collected cadavers.
Q: Are fingerprints considered "identifiable data"?
A: Yes. The collection of fingerprints for purposes of research from human subjects will require the author to comply with the Human Subjects Protection policy of the JFI. If the fingerprint images are intended for publication in the JFI, the donor must be informed of this and agree to the publication of his or her fingerprints. Guidelines pertaining to informed consent can be found by reading General Requirements for Informed Consent, 28 CFR Part 46 (http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/28/46.116).
Q: What should I do if my institution does not have an IRB?
A: If the author's research institution is not affiliated with an IRB and the research is of such limited extent that the expense of a commercial IRB is prohibitive, it is the author's responsibility to ensure that the health and privacy of the human subject have been protected in accordance with established ethical guidelines or declarations (e.g., http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/28/46.116, or the Helsinki Declaration http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/b3/).

Although the JFI does not endorse or recommend the use of any particular commercial IRBs, the JFI does accept the findings of commercial IRBs that review studies for compliance with the JFI human subjects protection and confidentiality regulations.
Q: Does the JFI have an IRB?
A: No. The JFI does not have an IRB. The author will attest to his or her compliance with the JFI Human Protection Policy when signing the "JFI Authorization to Publish Form".
Q: May a crime laboratory or small agency create its own IRB?
A: In the United States, requirements for IRBs, designated with a Federalwide Assurance (FWA), are listed in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Protection of Human Subjects (45 CFR part 46) http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.html.
Q: What is "informed consent" and what information needs to be included in an "informed consent" form?
A: Detailed guidelines pertaining to informed consent can be found by reading General Requirements for Informed Consent, 28 CFR Part 46 (http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/28/46.116).
Q: Do copies of informed consent forms need to be submitted to the JFI with all manuscripts involving human subjects?
A: No. The researcher should retain the forms and all research data.