Age estimation in forensic anthropology: Quantification of observer error in phase versus component-based methods

Natalie R. Shirley, Paula Andrea Ramirez Montes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess observer error in phase versus component-based scoring systems used to develop age estimation methods in forensic anthropology. A method preferred by forensic anthropologists in the AAFS was selected for this evaluation (the Suchey-Brooks method for the pubic symphysis). The Suchey-Brooks descriptions were used to develop a corresponding component-based scoring system for comparison. Several commonly used reliability statistics (kappa, weighted kappa, and the intraclass correlation coefficient) were calculated to assess observer agreement between two observers and to evaluate the efficacy of each of these statistics for this study. The linear weighted kappa was determined to be the most suitable measure of observer agreement. The results show that a component-based system offers the possibility for more objective scoring than a phase system as long as the coding possibilities for each trait do not exceed three states of expression, each with as little overlap as possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-111
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Volume60
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Keywords

  • Age estimation
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Forensic science
  • Intraclass correlation coefficient
  • Observer bias
  • Observer error
  • Pubic symphysis
  • Suchey-Brooks method
  • Weighted kappa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics

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