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The role of metrology in improving reproducibility in research

06/10/2021 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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Please note, by joining this workshop you are agreeing to follow the UKRN code of conduct.

UKRN and NPL collaborate to discuss the role of metrology in data integrity and research quality, with three short seminars:

The measure of all things

Prof. Richard Brown will explain how metrology, the science of measurement, assures confidence in billions of physical measurements are made and used every day to support industry, trade, innovation and health – in fact just about all of human life – and how the system of measurements we rely on for physical measurements recently underwent fundamental change. In particular you will discover:

  • Why accurate measurement matters
  • How measurements are expressed
  • Where our current measurement system came from
  • International agreement on units and their evolution
  • How our measurement system has changed recently

Reproducibility in research and development

Prof. Ian Gilmore will focus on the role of metrology in research and development.

  • The challenging and sometimes opposing forces in research and development driving “truth seeking” and “progression seeking” behaviours, an example from pharmaceutical R&D.
  • How metrology can improve measurement repeatability
  • The benefits of participating in interlaboratory comparisons
  • The role of international standards in improving reproducibility between laboratories.

Digital approaches to improve reproducibility

Louise Wright will give a short overview of how digital approaches can help to improve reproducibility, including discussion of:

  • Metadata and why it matters
  • Data sharing and the FAIR principles
  • Automation of capture and storage
  • Traceability throughout a processing chain


Workshop facilitator, Professor Ian Gilmore is Head of Science at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Senior NPL Fellow and a Visiting Professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham. He is founding director of the UK’s National Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry (NiCE-MSI). Ian’s research goal is to achieve super-resolution label-free metabolic imaging. He has a special interest in reducing drug attrition through measuring where drugs go and their pharmacological effect at a sub-cellular scale. To study this, he created the revolutionary 3D OrbiSIMS (Nature Methods 2017) in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline. His research interests also include 3D molecular imaging of complex interfaces in organic electronics, batteries and additive manufactured devices using OrbiSIMS and FIB-SIMS. Ian has over 25 years’ experience in mass spectrometry of surfaces and has published more than 140 peer-reviewed papers. He is a consultant and advisor to a number of companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and Samsung. He was awarded the IoP Paterson medal (2004) and the UKSAF Riviere prize (2013) for a major contribution to international leadership in surface analysis. Ian leads international standardisation in surface chemical analysis and is chair of ISO TC 201 SC 6 (Mass Spectrometry) and chair of VAMAS TWA 2. He is championing the topic of reproducibility in research and has recently published on this topic (Nature 2017JVST A 2018 , NIST Journal Research 2019).

Professor Richard Brown is the Head of Metrology at NPL with accountability for ensuring the quality of NPL’s scientific research and measurement service work and also an NPL Senior Fellow in Chemical Metrology where he leads research to provide traceability for, and improve the accuracy of, measurements of pollutants in ambient air and other environmental matrices. In 2020 Richard was appointed as a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Surrey, concentrating on general metrology topics, quality assurance, metrological traceability, and confidence in measurement. Richard has won a number of awards, most recently the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2020 Theophilus Redwood Award for excellence in theoretical and practical aspects of chemical measurement leading to the recent redefinition of the mole, and the communication of these changes. He has published in excess of 240 peer reviewed publications.

Louise Wright is the Head of Digital Metrology and the Head of Science for Data Science at NPL. Her main area of expertise is the development and solution of physics-based models, particularly using numerical approximation techniques such as finite element analysis to solve metrological problems. She chairs the NAFEMS Working Group on Computational Structural Mechanics and is a founder member of the NAFEMS Professional Simulation Engineer scheme. As Head of Science for Data Science, she defines the strategic direction for a team of around 40 researchers working on developing best practice for modelling, analytics, and informatics to meet the needs of measurement data. As Head of Digital Metrology she is defining the shape of NPL’s development of digital technologies to improve confidence in data. The current and future work includes automation of data and metadata capture and storage so that NPL’s data satisfies the FAIR principles; development of digital tools for data sharing so that customers and partners can make the most of their data; and innovative experiments to realise the SI units at point of use, providing better confidence through lower uncertainties.

Schedule (GMT+1 / BST)

13:00 – Ian Gilmore, Introduction to NPL and the session

13:05 – Richard Brown, The measure of all things

13:40 – 5 minute break

13:45 – Ian Gilmore, Reproducibility in research & development

14:20 – 5 minute break

14:25 – Louise Wright, Digital approaches to improve reproducibility

14:45 – Q&A

15:00 – Workshop close


1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Online workshop