HSW Data quality

I’ve included some terms regarding data quality that you’ll use in the HSW parts. These can be used as a reference for your study.

The quality of the data generated will impact severely on the analysis and interpretation of the results. Included below is a list of terms that you will come across time and again. Each term must be internalised and used in its correct context as these terms are not interchangeable.

True value

The real value of a measurement, if it could be recorded with no errors.

Accurate data

A measurement that is as close to the true value as the precision allows.

Precise data

Measurements that give similar values if repeated and so have a narrow range. Data that are generated using sensitive equipment with a suitable scale will generate more precise values (e.g. a thermocouple capable of detecting 0.050C intervals is more precise than a thermometer that can detect 10C differences in temperature).


Findings that can be repeated are said to be reliable. Consider a bus which arrives at 8:01am each day to take you to college would be a reliable service. One which came randomly between 7:45am and 8:25am would be unreliable as it did not repeat consistently.

Valid data

This is the best quality data as it is both precise and reliable and obtained by unbiased means in a controlled experiment. In this regard it can be assumed to be accurate.


About chemicalguy

I'm a former research scientist, lecturer, examiner and chemistry & biology tutor. I now write A-level chemistry and biology text books full time to fill the current gaps in the market.
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