NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING
When it comes to forensics, it's best not to guess anything till the lab results come back. So if it looks like blood and smells like blood, call it... a "reddish-brown stain". That's how Maura Isles would describe the typical gore splattered over a typical corpse in Rizzoli & Isles. Her pal Jane Rizzoli might prefer to just cut to the chase and call it blood, but no. It's a "reddish-brown stain" until the lab confirms it. (Saying that, Isles did once push the boat out and declare it to be a "reddish-brown substance consistent with blood" before the lab results came in. Living on the edge there, Maura.)
IGNORE THE COPS
It's all very well to work alongside the police. But to practice forensics properly you have to remember one thing: the typical homicide detective is a hapless head-scratcher who mustn't be allowed to get in the way of your sciencey ways. And if they do get in the way, do as Dr Rosewood Beaumont Jr does, and simply charm, flirt, or barge your way past them to get to the crime scene. Then just awe them with your forensics knowledge and they'll soon forgive you.
GET USED TO THE SMELL
Because having an "autopsy smell" wafting in your wake like the world's dodgiest perfume is an occupational hazard. Just ask Maura Isles. (Or Jane Rizzoli, who complains about it.)
HAVE LITTLE/NO SOCIAL LIFE
Forensics isn't a job you do lightly. On the contrary, if you want to be true crime-solving whiz, you've got to live and breathe your job until you're a prune. Yes: a prune. Not our words, but the words of Dr Nikki Alexander, who laments that her hours in the lab are making her wither and dry up, doomed to only ever attract a man "with a fetish for "shrivelled produce". On the plus side, such men probably do exist. They're probably on the Internet somewhere.
MAKE GOOD USE OF FRIDGE SPACE
Lab space is precious. If you've got to store your lunch in the "dead people fridge" (Rizzoli's words), then just tell yourself that "cold air is cold air" (Isles' words).
HAVE A COOL NICKNAME
This, admittedly, is not essential to forensics. But it certainly helps if your fellow crime-busters can casually refer to you by a snappy nickname. See Rosewood's sister Pippy, aka "the toxicology queen."
A true forensics specialist should never give a clear, short answer if they can possibly help it. Instead, go heavy on the details, especially if cops are impatiently waiting for you to get to the point. Like when Rizzoli asked if a woman had killed herself, and Isles replied: "The bruising and deep-tissue injury around the ligature exceeds the circumference of the noose." Thus delivering, as Rizzoli observed, "Fifteen words where one would do."
SHARE YOUR ICKY TRIVIA
"There's more bacteria in a human bite than a human rectum." Thanks very much for that, Dr Nikki Alexander.
Forensic pathology means keeping an eye open for all possible maladies. Even if the person in question happens to be already dead. See that time Isles was examining the body of a man who'd been shot right in the chest, and noticed "quite a bit of intra-abdominal fat... linked to high cholesterol, high insulin levels." To which her friend replied: "I don't think he's worried about his cholesterol level, Maura." Ah. Yes.