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Obtaining and Preparing Samples for Analysis
When we first use an analytical method to solve a problem, it is not unusual to find that our results are of questionable accuracy or so imprecise as to be meaningless. Looking back we may find that nothing in the method seems amiss. In designing the method we considered sources of determinate and indeterminate error and took appropriate steps, such as including a reagent blank and calibrating our instruments, to minimize their effect. Why, then, might a carefully designed method give such poor results? One explanation is that we may not have accounted for errors associated with the sample. When we collect the wrong sample or lose analyte while preparing the sample for analysis, we introduce a determinate source of error. If we do not collect enough samples or collect samples of the wrong size, the precision of the analysis may suffer.
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