Introduction to Analytical Measurement Uncertainty

Category: Laboratories

Course Summary

This online course introduces the topic of measurement uncertainty and defines the basic terms of measurement. The reason that all measurements contain some level of doubt is explained and illustrated. A distinction is made between random and systematic error and examples are given. The importance of understanding measurement uncertainty in a laboratory setting is stated and examples are provided of situations in which the laboratorian will need this knowledge. The mathematical functions used in calculating standard deviation are demonstrated and the role of standard deviation in determining measurement uncertainty is explained. Finally, the user is taken, step by step, through the calculations necessary to determine the uncertainty of a laboratory sample, using an example from an environmental chemistry laboratory.

Throughout the course, graphics, photographs and narration are employed to provide the user with an interesting and informative experience. Additionally, the course includes printable training aids and an interactive section to engage the user and also reinforce the lessons. This course provides a basis for those new to the subject of measurement uncertainty and a refresher for laboratorians who would like to review the basics.

Intended Audience

All laboratory staff who perform testing that requires the determination of measurement uncertainty or standard deviation

Learning Objectives

After completion of this course, the participant will be able to:

  • Identify measurement as a comparison with some known standard.
  • Define terms commonly used to express measurement in laboratory settings.
  • Discuss the difference between precision and accuracy in measurement.
  • Estimate the precision of a measurement by computing a standard deviation.
  • Describe key tools or methods used to evaluate or estimate uncertainty.
  • Identify benefits of proficiency in calculating measurement uncertainty.

Pre-requisites/Learning Level

  • No Pre-requisites

Competencies addressed

  • Analytical/Assessment Skills, Communications Skills, Public Health Sciences Skills

CEUs Offered





Online Self-Pace


1 hour

Presenter(s) and/or Content Expert

Marcia Valbracht, BS, MHA

Technical requirements

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 
  • Flash Player 
  • Speakers

Registration requirements

Register a free account

Creation and/or update

July 9, 2014