Ghosts and Hauntings 101: A Procedural Manual for the Investigation of the Paranormal

October 1st, 2008

Documentation
Just the facts

While the subject of proper documentation has arisen several times in the couse of this procedural manual it is important that we have a  compete and thorough understanding of what constitutes such documentation. It is impossible to over stress the importance of this critical, but sometimes admittedly tedious aspect of conducting a properly scientific investigation of a paranormal incident or event.
As mentioned, our group uses a standard military and police form to record the interviewing of witnesses and a standard military and police incident report. These are available in packages of 100 from any specialty shop dealing with Police and Security supplies and in most cases local police departments and sheriff’s departs do not mind ordering such forms for an investigative group or supplying them with copies that can in turn be copied. The filling out of such a report should follow the guidelines set by the form itself which are basic questions which provide an overview of the incident being investigated and the testimony of witnesses. Keep in mind that all such forms should be made in triplicate and all entries should be initialed as a proof of accuracy after being read over by both the interviewer and interviewee. Likewise a recording of the interview on either videotape or audiotape is highly recommended but in all cases a standard release form permitting the use of such material for research purposes must be signed by the interviewee and notarized with a copy going to the interviewer, interviewee and to the archives of the organization conducting the investigation. Such documentation makes any follow-up on the case or a similar case far easier to undertake since a precedent has already been established. When dealing with an interview always keep in mind the cardinal rules of good journalism which apply to any investigation. Questions should be concerned with who, what, when, where, why and once this information has been gathered the open question of how can be addressed. Investigation reports should be consecutively numbered, dated and should contain the full given names, ages, occupation, physical address and telephone number of the party being interviewed and a statement in the words of the party being interviewed of exactly what happened and/or what was witnessed.
Documentation of this sort, done in a professional manner provides credibility for our field. It lifts our investigations above the level of hearsay and rumor and into the realm of hard science.
A separate form should be used, also in triplicate, which records the results of any and all electronic or photographic evidence gathered on an investigation and as in all other aspects of documentation should bear the signature and contact information of at least three (3) witnesses. Likewise this should also be filed in a coherent system that is readily accessible in the even to f a follow-up investigation of the same incident at a later date or as background material in an investigation of a similar incident.

NOTE: All interview forms should be signed and dated by all parties present and initialed line by line on each statement given by the witness. The form should also be accompanied by a photograph of the witness. Attached to the documentation form in a prominent place. It is highly recommended that any interview forms should also be legally notarized so as to constitute valid testimony in any ongoing investigation at a later date.

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