Ask anyone in the forensic science community whether research is important in their field and almost always the answer will be a resounding yes. This paper examines the purpose for any research and, rather than commenting that research is needed, highlights why there is such a need; parallels with the medical profession are given to illustrate how novel research can be incorporated into medical practice. A balance needs to be struck between those required to be educated to a high level and where this is not necessary. At present this balance may not be right and there is scope to encourage creative scientific thinking into the forensic sciences. Universities are the natural home for forensic science research but the research can only be of relevance and value if driven by, or integrated within, the forensic science community. There are disadvantages to the academic in conducting forensic science research, such as the possibility of little funding, and publishing in journals with lower impact factors than journals in broader areas of science. Finally, the research can only be of value if it is actually used and incorporated into practice, be it either as a procedure or used in evidence evaluation.