How terminology and definitions in analytical geochemistry can help or hinder the development of new ideas

Ramsey, Michael H (2010) How terminology and definitions in analytical geochemistry can help or hinder the development of new ideas. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 34 (4). pp. 317-324. ISSN 1639-4488

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Refining terminology can help the development of new concepts. For example, the definition of the terms bias and precision for the two types of measurement error were useful in the early development of data quality in analytical chemistry. The more recent recognition of uncertainty of measurement has aided the development of further new ideas, such as the fitness-for-purpose of measurements. The wording of the definition of each term needs to be clear and understandable, as well as rigorous, if it is to enable new ideas to be explained to both the research community and to the users of measurements. However, some definitions are identified as cryptic and ambiguous. This inhibits the development of new ideas, and leads to misunderstanding and confusion amongst researchers, students and the wider user community. One possible solution is to have one formal definition that is technically rigorous, and ideally, but not necessarily, widely comprehensible. A second informal definition could also be made that is widely comprehensibility, whilst being consistent with the formal definition. An increased level of discussion and debate is required in the measurement community to resolve the underlying philosophical issues that cause some of the ambiguity in the description of the measurement process. For example, there is a choice to be made between the statistical and the metrological approaches, which result in use of the concepts of either the true value of the analyte concentration, or the measurand.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Michael Ramsey
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:44
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2012 08:50
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