The National Academy of Sciences allows free pdf downloads of many of its publications. Several of these are listed at website under Research and Publications: Essential Documents.

A best seller from the National Academies Press is the NAS Report on forensic science, Ā Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. This documents the weaknesses found in our system related to forensic sciences that have been used for decades without any strong foundation for the basic premises. It is not surprising that some forensic techniques–such as handwriting or fingerprinting identification– would not have been subjected to the rigors of normal science. None of our universities or industrial research labs addressed the problems, so the methods essentially developed outside a normal scientific setting. Questions about database development, data requirements, sequence of procedures –all issues of normal experimental science– just were not in the paradigm. Now that courts are expecting to find some scientific basis for forensic techniques, forensic techniques which did not have a connection to universities and research labs have been building these relationships, not an easy process.

Another best seller from the National Academies Press is the NAS Report On Being a Scientist. It is now in its third edition. This is a great book! It is like having your very own team of America’s greatest scientists explain how to conduct science with responsibility, respect and integrity. It’s not flashy –this is solid. I’ll be using it as one of my textbooks next summer when I’m teaching at the Linguistic Society of America’s Linguistics Institute.