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September 2022

Problem of the Unit of Reference in Expressing Biomedical Data

Journal/Book: Reprinted from Clinical Chemistry Vol.16 No 3 222 1970 S. 222-225. 1969/1970;

Abstract: Anthony J. Barak From the Medical Research Laboratory Veterans Administration Hospital Omaha Neb. 68105. Received Dec. 26 1968; accepted Mar. 23 1969 This paper reviews various bases used by investigators in the biomedical field for expressing analytical data obtained from biological tissues. The advantages of certain units of reference in certain research situations and the pitfalls of other modes of expression are discussed. I suggest that authors express their data using several bases when no particular one is fully adequate. Use of wet weight DNA and total protein (as polypeptide) as bases would add new dimensions to the data and may suggest new possibilities for further experimental investigation. O F THE MANY PROBLEMS in biomedical investigation the one affecting most workers is to properly express the data obtained. Disturbingly authors have expressed findings of their analyses in concentrations most convenient to them. Consequently current investigators often find themselves in a dilemma of having to choose between what is most logical for their research design and following suit so their data would be comparable to data obtained previously. This problem is commonplace yet modern workers are no more ambitious than their predecessors in choosing an accepted meaningful common denominator for expressing the amounts of chemical constituents in biological materials. Some accepted methods express results without error or ambiguity but these terms can be misleading or mask results in another rescarch. Certainly it is illogical for workers to exert great effort in designing research with good controls conducting the experiments and subjecting the data to sophisticated statistical analyses and then obscuring the results and their relationships to those of others by selecting inadequate units of reference. ... schö

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