Documentation and how-to

Reporting analytical methods

Best practices for reporting analytical methods

Last updated: March 7, 2024

Introduction

This guidance provides guidance on how data stewards should report analytical methods when uploading data to DataStream, to support a consistent approach across datasets. This information is essential for the interpretation and re-use of data. It also allows secondary users to determine if data is comparable across datasets. The more information, the better.

DataStream requires that analytical methods are reported for samples analyzed in a laboratory. Data reports provided by commercial laboratories usually include information about the analytical methods used to produce the results. Data stewards can also provide information on how data was collected in the field (e.g. the brand name and model of the equipment).

DataStream’s data schema aligns with the Water Quality eXchange (WQX) data format developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Geological Survey.

For details on how to choose the correct characteristic metadata, see:

Data format

Analytical methods should be reported using the fields ResultAnalyticalMethodID, ResultAnalyticalMethodContext, and ResultAnalyticalMethodName (Table 1).

DataStream requires all lab-analyzed samples to include:

• Both ResultAnalyticalMethodContext and ResultAnalyticalMethodID, OR

• ResultAnalyticalMethodName, OR

• All three

The name of the laboratory should be reported in the LaboratoryName field.

Table 1: DataStream fields used to report analytical methods

Field name Description Example

ResultAnalyticalMethodID

ID code assigned by publisher of the analytic method.

200.8

ResultAnalyticalMethodContext

Publisher of method ID code. Required if ID is populated.

For details, see Table 4.

USEPA

ResultAnalyticalMethodName

Name of analytical procedure used by the lab.

Determination of Trace Elements in Waters and Wastes by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry

LaboratoryName

Name of Laboratory responsible for the result.

Established standard methods

If established standard analytical methods were used, the method publisher (e.g., “USEPA”, “VMV”, “APHA”) should be entered in the ResultAnalyticalMethodContext (“Context”) field, and the method code (e.g., “200.8”) should be reported in the ResultAnalyticalMethodID field (Table 2). A list of allowed values for method publishers that can be entered in the ResultAnalyticalMethodContext column is available in Table 4, or in the DataStream Upload Template on the Allowed Values tab.

Table 2: Format for reporting established standard methods

ResultAnalytical MethodID ResultAnalytical MethodContext ResultAnalytical MethodName LaboratoryName

200.8

USEPA

Determination of Trace Elements in Waters and Wastes by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry

[name of laboratory]

Proprietary methods

If a commercial laboratory used a custom or internally developed method, the ResultAnalyticalMethodContext should be “PROPRIETARY”, with the laboratory method code reported for ResultAnalyticalMethodID. However, if the methods used are considered equivalent to established standard methods (e.g. USEPA, APHA, etc.,), the standard method codes should be used in place of proprietary laboratory codes. This improves consistency in method reporting and facilitates data use for secondary data users.

Methods described in a scientific publication

If methodology originates from a published scientific article, this should be reported by entering ‘DOI’ (i.e. Digital Object Identifier) for the ResultAnalyticalMethodContext, and the actual publication DOI (e.g., https://doi.org/10.25976/ty8w-fv) for ResultAnalyticalMethodID.

Table 3: Format for reporting methods described in a scientific publication

ResultAnalyticalMethodID ResultAnalytical MethodContext ResultAnalytical MethodName LaboratoryName

https://doi.org/XXXX/XXXXX

DOI

[name of method]

[name of laboratory]

Unknown method publisher

When the method publisher and/or codes are not available, ResultAnalyticalMethodName should indicate the name or description of the method used or provide a reference for the protocol. This field can also be used to enter information on the instrument used for analysis (e.g., ICP-MS, ICP-OES), or the analytical method.

Calculated values

When a lab sample is calculated, DataStream requires analytical method fields to be populated. In these cases, if no calculation details are provided, we recommend populating ResultAnalyticalMethodName with ‘Calculated’. If there are details about calculations available, a detailed description in the ResultAnalyticalMethodName is recommended. If the calculation is referenced or summarized in a peer reviewed journal, the ResultAnalyticalMethodContext ‘DOI’ can be used with the DOI number listed in the ResultAnalyticalMethodID

Method context codes

If you don’t see a ResultAnalyticalMethodContext appropriate for your dataset, let us know, and we can add it to the list.

Table 4: Allowed values for ResultAnalyticalMethodContext

ResultAnalytical MethodContext Description Example ResultAnalyticalMethodID

APHA

American Public Health Association

Equivalent to SM (“Standard Methods”)

3125B

APHA_SM20ED

APHA_SM21ED

APHA_SM22ED

APHA_SM23ED

Past editions of APHA

(e.g. APHA_SM20ED is 20th Edition, etc.)

https://www.standardmethods.org/

Note, if the edition is not known, the ResultAnalyticalMethodContext “APHA” can be used instead

3125B

ASTM

D3867

DOI

Digital Object Identifier

The ResultAnalyticalMethodID should be a URL to a publication that describes the method

https://doi.org/XXXX/XXXXX

DIN

German Institute for Standardization (German Institute for Norms)

4500N

EN

European Norms

TKN-F-ED

ENV/CANADA

Environment and Climate Change Canada

Note, only for use when a VMV code is not available (see below)

1SRM-1

ENVIROLOGIX

EP 002

HACH

8048

IDEXX

Quanti-Tray/2000

ISO

5663:1984

LACHAT

10-107-04-1-A

LaMOTTE

5858-01

MICROLOGY LABS

COLISCAN MF

ON MECP

Ontario Ministry of Environment and Parks

E3364

PALINTEST LTD

LUM050

PROPRIETARY

Custom methodology code specific to the analytical laboratory

Seal

Seal Analytical

Note - many methods have USEPA or ISO equivalent codes

G-148-95

THERMO-SCIENTIFIC

AQ3010

USEPA

200.8

VMV

Valid Method Variable

Canadian standard codes that are specific to each method-variable combination

100802

YSI

A ResultAnalyticalMethodID is not required to accompany the ResultAnalyticalMethodContext “YSI”

This guidance was prepared in collaboration with Dr. Megan Thompson of Thompson Aquatic Consulting.

DataStream laboratory parameter mappings

Labs have different ways of reporting sample analysis results to their clients. DataStream collaborates with many labs across Canada to support monitoring groups with data formatting.

More Resources


Our Data Specialists can work with you to ensure that the data and metadata provided by your lab are appropriately included in your dataset. This will prevent issues with your upload and ensure consistent reporting of water data (see Data schema).


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Contact us if you work with a lab and would like to set up a parameter mapping, or need help formatting your data.