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A guide for proper utilisation of stable isotope reference materials.

Meier-Augenstein, Wolfram; Schimmelmann, Arndt


Wolfram Meier-Augenstein

Arndt Schimmelmann


Many scientific publications about stable isotope ratios suffer from flawed practices regarding calibration and normalisation of raw δ values in conjunction with prescribed δ values of reference materials. Violations of the Identical Treatment principle with regards to samples and standards (i.e. reference materials) and lack of adherence to SImandated and IUPAC-recommended nomenclature exacerbate the widespread problem of lackadaisical analytical practice and reporting. Science is supposed to strive for exactness, whereas ambiguity and jargon confound interdisciplinary communication. This contribution aims to expose typical misconceptions and avoidable errors and offers guidance toward reproducible generation of isotope data, isotopic scale normalisation, and proper data reporting. We offer a comprehensive overview of sources of light stable isotope reference materials to best match sample matrices encountered by stable isotope practitioners with chemically similar reference materials.


MEIER-AUGENSTEIN, W. and SCHIMMELMANN, A. 2019. A guide for proper utilisation of stable isotope reference materials. Isotopes in environmental and health studies [online], 55(2), pages 113-128. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 19, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 8, 2018
Publication Date Apr 30, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 9, 2019
Journal Isotopes in environmental and health studies
Print ISSN 1025-6016
Electronic ISSN 1477-2639
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 55
Issue 2
Pages 113-128
Keywords Calibration; Isotope abundance; Isotope abundance calibration; Reference material; Scale anchor; Scale compression; Scale normalisation; Stable isotope; Stretch factor
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