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Fabricating data: How substituting values for nondetects can ruin results, and what can be done about it

Chemosphere

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DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2006.04.051

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Abstract

The most commonly used method in environmental chemistry to deal with values below detection limits is to substitute a fraction of the detection limit for each nondetect. Two decades of research has shown that this fabrication of values produces poor estimates of statistics, and commonly obscures patterns and trends in the data. Papers using substitution may conclude that significant differences, correlations, and regression relationships do not exist, when in fact they do. The reverse may also be true. Fortunately, good alternative methods for dealing with nondetects already exist, and are summarized here with references to original sources. Substituting values for nondetects should be used rarely, and should generally be considered unacceptable in scientific research. There are better ways.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Fabricating data: How substituting values for nondetects can ruin results, and what can be done about it
Series title:
Chemosphere
DOI:
10.1016/j.chemosphere.2006.04.051
Volume
65
Issue:
11
Year Published:
2006
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Chemosphere
First page:
2434
Last page:
2439
Number of Pages:
6