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2.4.10 Professional judgment

In some cases, traditional sources of information, data, models, or scientific principles are unavailable, unreliable, conflicting, or too costly or time consuming to obtain. In these instances professional judgment may be the only practical tool available to the investigator. Professional judgment is the expression of opinion that is documented in written form and based on technical knowledge and professional experience, assumptions, algorithms, and definitions, as stated by an expert in response to technical problems. For general applications, this type of judgment is a routine part of scientific investigation where knowledge is incomplete. Professional judgment can be used as an independent review of historical data to support decision making during the historical site assessment. Professional judgment should only be used in situations where data are not reasonably obtainable by collection or experimentation.

The process of recruiting professionals should be documented and as unbiased as possible. The credentials of the selected individual or individuals enhance the credibility of the elicitation, and the ability to communicate their reasoning is a primary determinant of the quality of the results. Qualified professionals can be identified by different sources, including the planning team, professional organizations, government agencies, universities, consulting firms, and public interest groups. The selection criteria for the professionals should include potential conflict of interest (economic or personal), evidence of expertise in a required topic, objectiveness, and availability.