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DNA Collection: Swabbing vs Cutting

Written by: Alan Baker 26th March, 2024

Selecting the wrong sample collection method can severely impact DNA recovery. Research consistently emphasises the necessity of choosing a method tailored to the sample’s surface type.

A study compared cotton swab versus cutting methods for more effective DNA sample collection from surfaces.

It explored three different surfaces: cotton, paper, and cardboard. The study included various DNA sources: cell-free DNA, cellular DNA, and body fluids like blood and saliva, commonly found at crime scenes

DNA Collection – Findings:

The findings highlighted a clear outcome. Except for cardboard, the method of cutting out samples directly from the surface consistently outperformed the cotton swab method in terms of DNA recovery. This result underscores the efficiency of the cutting-out technique over swabbing in most scenarios encountered in forensic investigations.


It’s crucial to note, however, that while the cutting-out method shows superior recovery rates, it’s not without its limitations.

Practical challenges and the potential for surface damage during sample collection are considerations that forensic professionals must weigh.

Despite challenges, higher DNA recovery rates favour the cutting-out method in various forensic scenarios.

This research offers valuable insights into forensic methodologies, emphasising the importance of method selection in DNA recovery. By demonstrating the comparative efficiency of the cutting-out method, the study contributes to the ongoing refinement of forensic practices. Advancements in DNA collection are vital for accurate evidence, crucial to the justice system’s effectiveness.

The study’s implications extend beyond the technical realm, highlighting the need for forensic practitioners to continuously update their practices based on the latest research findings. In a field where evidence quality can determine the outcome of legal proceedings, adopting the most effective collection methods is paramount. This research underlines the importance of methodological precision and adaptability in the pursuit of forensic excellence.