Application of consistency checking to evaluation of uncertainty in multiple replicate measurements
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- Kessel, R., Berglund, M. & Wellum, R. Accred Qual Assur (2008) 13: 293. doi:10.1007/s00769-008-0382-x
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Use of repeated measurements in quantitative chemical analysis is common but leads to the problem of how to combine the measurement values and produce a result with an uncertainty following the GUM. There is often confusion between repeated indications or observations of an input quantity, for whose uncertainty the GUM prescribes a type A evaluation, and complete measurements repeated on multiple sub-samples, as considered here. A solution for combining repeated measurement results and their individual uncertainties based on simple interval logic is proposed here. The individual measurement values and their uncertainties are compared with the calculated average value to see if this implies that another, possibly unknown, source of uncertainty is present. The model of the individual results is modified for this possible between-replicate effect so that the repeated measurements are consistent. Lack of consistency is a strong indication that the measurement is not fully under control and needs further development or investigation. This is not always possible, however and the method given here is proposed to ensure that the values of the repeated measurements agree with each other. A simple numerical example is given showing how the method can be implemented in practice.