Talk:Analytical chemistry

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I felt the techniques section was in need of major re-factoring. The previous collection lacked a fundamental theme and contained a large amount of unrelated specific techniques. --qswitch426 13:57, 16 May 2006 (UTC)


Can one really call Analytical Chemistry a true subdisipline of chemistry? Isn't all chemistry more or less by definition anlytical? Albany1976 21:27, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Albany1976

In case it's a serious question... Yes, it's really a separate subdiscipline, quite distinct from, say, synthetic chemistry (in which compounds are made) or physical chemistry (which attempts to understand the properties and reactions of chemical species). It's true that the three are very closely connected. Jaeger5432 | Talk 05:10, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Recent major revisions[edit]

I don't think that the recent major revisions are an improvement to the article although I think they are well intentioned. The biggest criticism is that the article has been changed into a largely bioanalytical article and is focused on well known and widely implemented technologies to the exclusion of many areas of research. As a bioanalytical chemist I think these are important but analytical chemistry is a much larger field with many exciting areas of research and applications. Rather than do a revert I would like to engage those who are interested in editing this article in good faith to work together to improve it by first having a discussion. I would suggest that we discuss relative to the previous version [1] by BCstiles as compared to the current version as of this writing [2] by Jokbong. THis is an opportunity to discuss. If there are no interested parties I will revert to BCstiles after a few days.--Nick Y. 21:21, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

I would suggest the possibility of some of the added material might be better included as an addition to the BCstiles version rather than in place of. Possibly this could be a separate section of even a bioanalytical article.--Nick Y. 21:29, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
I have a general comment that applies to both versions. I was a bit surprised that the article doesn't even mention the classical techniques such as titrations and gravimetry. They might not be the coolest cutting-edge research, but they are still used sometimes and have great historic and pedagogic importance. --Itub 06:07, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
I would agree. Such historically important techniques should be mentioned in the article. It is also important to keep the article up-to-date in what is a rapidly evolving field. In this way I also think that some of the things that are added in the Jokbong version are also important to mention. I would just rather see both of these be added rather than replacing what I thought was a good general definition and introduction to the scope and nature of the discipline. There could be a section on historical techniques and one on cutting edge techniques while leaving the good defining language of the Bcstiles version.--Nick Y. 16:46, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the idea of combining the old and new articles. Also, the inclusion of "classical" techniques may be best served by introducing them as the forerunners of the modern instrumental techniques. Titration using a dye indicator is most definitely a spectroscopic technique with the human eye as the detector while gravimetric analysis is the oldest analytical technique (dating back to the invention of the balance) and can be viewed as the foundation of Mass Spectrometry. Perhaps presenting the classics through modern instrumental and onto emerging techniques would tie them together. --qswitch426 13:05, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
I'd say that gravimetry has no relation with mass spectrometry, except for the fact that "mass" is involved. The titration analogy is also a bit of a stretch. --Itub 13:18, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
I also think those are a bit of stretch but he underlying point is well taken. The field has evolved and that evolution should be included. I'm going to some day revert to the BCstiles version and then start adding some of the current revision back in as separate section(s). Anyone is welcome to beat me to it.--Nick Y. 18:28, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
As scientists, aren't we paid to discover and categorize the long stretches? =] (Removing tongue from cheek) My refactoring of the article almost a year ago was a serious attempt to sumarize the underlying commonality of how Analytical Chemists perform their duties, i.e. the interaction of matter with energy. Gavimetric analysis and Mass Spectrometry are most decidedly the interaction of matter with fields -- Gravity in the former and Electrical and/or Magnetic in the latter. Using Mass Spec to determine the percentage of carbon atoms in a single molecule is no different than using gravimetric analysis to determine total carbon content in a large (1023) collection of molecules. The instruments are simply different due to the size scale of the samples, but they share the same fundamental goals. Determination of an equivalence point using bromocresol green and a white 3x5 card is the identical function of an absorption spectrometer, i.e. measuring the interaction of the indicator molecule with light. To the early student of Quantitative and Instrumental Analysis, I find pointing out the things in common is a more successful approach to teaching than overwhelming them with the specific details that make them different. --qswitch426 01:05, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

I suppose it depends on how you present the connection. Unless the limitations of the analogy are stated emphatically, I would be worried that the reader/student might get the wrong impression that spectrophotometry is only used for titrations, or that all titrations use optical methods for detecting the equivalence point. In fact, there is only a small intersection between the two methods, since there are many kinds of titrations that don't depend on visual/optical indicators, and there are many spectrophotometric (and spectroscopic) applications that don't involve titrations. Same for mass spec/gravimetry. Gravimetry is a quantitative method based on turning the analyte into something you can weigh. Mass spectrometry can sometimes be thought as doing the same for molecules, but it also has much broader application, for example, as a method of detection and identification. Also remember that ballroom dancing also involves the interaction of matter with a gravitational field. ;-) I personally I don't find the analogy useful, but then again I haven't tried to teach instrumental analysis... --Itub 08:12, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

All points well taken. My overriding concern is that experts in Analytical Chemistry would not wish to harm their professional careers by admitting they gleaned information from Wikipedia, yet as authors, we too often contribute edits in a style fit for top-tier peer-reviewed journals. In a journal article our goal is to emphasize why our research is new, different and important. In an encyclopedia, it is the editor's job to emphasize the similarities, at least during the introduction (integration before differentiation). Since we are the experts it on us to describe our fields using general terms, rather than expect young students and the uninitiated to soak up our jargon and glean subtle connections from myriad details. --And yes, I have used Dancing with the Stars as an example of how poorly a video game simulation would behave if it's physics engine used the wrong value for the acceleration of mass in Earth's gravitational field. While it may be amusing to see Laila Ali jump 10 meters into the air during her routine, it's not very probable... =] --qswitch426 16:25, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
I have made major changes to the article to lay the groundwork for improvement. I reverted the intro to bcstiles but taken Jokbong's intro into the trends section for further cleanup and incorporation. Iused teh Jokbong version of the instrumental analysis section since it had been improved. I have added a "traditional analytical techniques" section. This could use some expanding. Also the methods section is now a "methods and data analysis" section with two new entries. I removed some old language about storing glass ware in acid and being precise since it is either too specific or redundant with other sections also somewhat poorly written.--Nick Y. 18:04, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Bravo! Nick! --qswitch426 19:34, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
I agree. :) There is just one phrase from the older version of the article that sounds a bit questionable to me. The one that says that analytical chemistry "does not attempt to use chemistry or understand its basis". I understand the point that it may not be the main goal of analytical chemistry, but it sounds a bit exaggerated IMO. Of course the analytical chemists need to "use" the chemistry and the theory if they know what they are doing! They need to know which reactions may be going on in the system, consider chemical equilibria, "use chemistry" to prepare the sample, and depend on various chemical laws (such as those of electrochemistry, or Bragg's law, or whatever) to be better equipped to apply the techniques. --Itub 21:38, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
You bring up a good point and although there is a "generally" in there I do think of much use of chemistry to get to the analytical answer. There are many reactions used by analytical chemist. Even titrations "use" reactions. The point however is that it uses chemistry for characterization and not other ends. Some rewording would be good.--Nick Y. 22:09, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
My id is jokbong, and I am quite new in wikipedia writing. I haven't looked this discussion section so far. I am an Analytical Chemist. I got Ph.D in analytical chemistry and currently I am a post-doc in analytical chemistry. As you know, I tried to change the introduction of Analytical Chemistry. As an Analytical Chemist, this introduction makes me feel bad, because your introduction is more like, Analytical Chemistry is muck worse than other chemistry disciplines.
Let's think about your several sentences.
This differs from other sub disciplines of chemistry in that it is not intended to understand the physical basis for the observed chemistry as with physical chemistry and it is not intended to control or direct chemistry as is often the case in organic chemistry.
Is this really true? And do you think it is appropriate to include in the introduction of analytical chemistry? Rather, you have to explain what makes analytical chemistry valuable.
Analytical chemistry generally does not attempt to use chemistry or understand its basis;
Really? What kinds of science fields are used in mass spectrometry, chromatography, or electrochemistry?
Although analytical chemistry addresses these types of questions it stops after they are answered.
My opinion is that this is introduction of analytical chemistry to many other people. Introduction of a certain field should be reviewed in positive modes first with few limitations in the end. What do you think?
I agree with your concerns, but your rewrite was a bit radical, which was why it was questioned above. Let's wait and see what others think. My opinion is that we could remove the parts about "what analytical chemistry is not". I don't think that's the best way of defining things in general, and although I understand the reasoning behind them I think they are a caricaturization. It also makes the analytical chemists look a bit like technicians who only care about measuring things but are not "real chemists". The sentence "analytical chemistry generally does not attempt to use chemistry or understand its basis" could easily be reversed to "analytical chemistry uses chemistry and an understanding of chemical principles to [analyze stuff...]", which would be more realistic IMO. BTW, I'm not an analytical chemist. --Itub 15:33, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
I revised the first part by defining analytical chemistry and removing negative expressions. Please tell me any radical or unnecessary parts. --jokbong
Jokbong, I agree with your concerns. The article needs improvement and your input and help are appreciated. The issue that comes up is that your radical change to the introduction changes it from defining what is analytical chemistry to "here's a list of really cool cutting edge things that analytical chemists do." I would suggest that we work together to come up with a very good definition and introduction here on the talk page. I like Itub's suggestion and start to reworking some of the sentences that are at issue. The point of the sentence "This differs from other sub disciplines of chemistry in that it is not intended to understand the physical basis for the observed chemistry as with physical chemistry and it is not intended to control or direct chemistry as is often the case in organic chemistry." is to point out what make analytical chemistry different. Where are it's borders? Analchem clearly does not work towards improving quantum theory nor does it create new drugs or plastics. "Analytical chemistry generally does not attempt to use chemistry or understand its basis" is about he same thing. This is, however a statement which I have a problem with since it often uses chemistry towards analytical goals of characterization. For example the use of cysteine tagging agents for peptide enrichment or for that matter the use of indicators. The difference is the goal. It doesn't make new things and it tends not to go too deep into physics or too deep into biology although on those last two it does significantly overlap. "Although analytical chemistry addresses these types of questions it stops after they are answered." Yes. It does stop at some point. It is our job to define where. There is no reason why an investigator can not wear two hats but what is analytical and what is physical? If all one does is quantum field theory they are clearly physical. If all they do is elucidate crystal structures they are analytical. What about biophysical chemists? They are often a part bio and a part phycical with some analytical mixed in. These boundaries are increasingly unclear. Agreed? I can agree that we can make the defining statements more positive in tone but we still need to define what analytical chemistry is (and is not). It can not be simply a list of techniques. I'm all for making it all sound exciting and interesting. I am an analytical chemist after all and I find it very exciting. I personally think about analytical chemistry as the field of characterizing the whole world on the molecular/atomic level and not just statically but even including dynamics. Reactions are included. It is just that turning around and making use of the knowledge to cure disease is not analytical chemistry per se. Analytical chemistry is what makes it possible to design drugs that work. In some ways I see analytical chemistry as the central subdiscipline of the central science. Every branch of chemistry uses analytical chemistry and would be completely lost without it. Theoreticians would never have any empirical data. ORganic chemists would never know if they made the right product or know the mechanisms of their reactions. Analytical chemistry overlaps with physics, biology, geology, psychology, all science. But since it is so wide reaching it is important to clarify where it stops so there is room for other disciplines.--Nick Y. 18:31, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Regarding your changes today, I still think they are too radical although better than previous attempts. Removing that it is a sub-discipline of chemistry seems odd. Are you saying that it is not? It somehow stands on its own without relation? There are plenty of other sciences concerned with measurement, such as physics. This language seems imprecise. I disagree with "Pursuing the development of practical applications and commercial instruments are it’s main goals, rather than elucidating scientific fundamentals." This may be the case in industry but not in academia. The the chemical composition of a mineral or the structure of a protein are in my mind scientific fundamentals (maybe not as fundamental as the grand unified theory but still). Not to bite the newbie, because I truly appreciate your interest and efforts, but I find no improvement to your revision. I would encourage you to take a step back and work more slowly and seek consensus before you make large changes.--Nick Y. 18:49, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
I have reverted most of your changes. I kept what I could honestly call improvement. Please work on consensus building before you make major changes.--Nick Y. 18:55, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Let's talk about academic boundary
In my graduate school of Wisconsin-Madison, we have two professors are doing 2D IR. Their works are quite similar to each other, but one is in Analytical division and the other is in Physical Chemistry division. I am not sure they are developing quantum theory, but they are studying very advanced quantum theory to understand their new 2D-IR. This P. Chem professor developed a new way of protein analysis. By definition, it is more like bioanalytical chemistry, however it was published in Biophysics category in PNAS.
In my case, I developed a new way of DNA analysis. For that purpose, I learned a lot of polymer physics, which is more like chemical engineering or physics rather than physical chemistry, because we do not consider chemical properties and treat DNA as long chains. For publication, we developed a new theory to explain polymer phenomena for DNA analysis.
What about physical chemistry?
Physical chemistry has three main fields, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics including spectroscopy, kinetics if we followed Atkin's textbook. However, thermodyanmics and statistical mechanics came from physics and shares most parts with chemical engineering. Quantum mechanics and spectroscopy also originated from physics. Kinetics originated from physics, too. Also, these days many physical chemists are developing new methods for biological applications, which seems to me like bioanalytical chemistry. Furthermore, many P chemists define themselves as nano-technologists, which shares a lot with material science and electrical engineering. Although P. chemists share many things with other disciplines, I think physical chemistry is doing great jobs and flourishing towards general goals in our contemporary science.
These days interdisciplinary science is very important; thus scientists are breaking barriers among disciplines.
Can you agree my words "there isn't any distinct barriers among disciplines in contemporary science and technology"?

I have some comments about your writing.

It is not right to define bioanalytical chemistry for biochemistry
I developed a method of DNA analysis, but it is for genetics rather than biochemistry. Although genetics and biochemistry share molecular biology as a tool, they are very different each other. Therefore, we have to say that bioanalytical chemistry for biology or biomedical science rather than biochemistry.
Biophysics is not equal to biophysical chemistry.
I guess you think biophysical chemistry is biophysics, but they are not equal. Biophysical chemistry is a part of biophysics. Many physicists and biologists are doing research in biophysics, but they are not doing biophysical chemistry. For example, physicists are more concerned about understanding mechanics rather chemical phenomena.
Analytical chemistry is not a collection of chemical techniques.
I had opportunities working with biologists and material scientists in the same lab. Many of them thinks that chemistry is a collection of chemical techniques. In the same way, you think analytical chemistry is a collection of techniques. Chemistry and analytical chemistry have made a ground for other disciplines, but I think analytical chemistry has own goal and beauty. I'd like to introduce an episode. I had a chance to see a presentation from Hitachi corporation about MeV FE-TEM (mega electron volt field emission transmission electron microscopy), which instrument is three-story tall and floating over air cushion. Their goal is increasing image resolution. In their research, they resolved 0.6 Angstrom. They claimed they were able to image shapes of f orbital electron clouds. Although I couldn't recognize f orbital shape, I thought single atom's image was very beautiful. In some sense, it is a development of technique, but I would say this is more than a simple technique. Analytical Chemistry is Science! -- Jokbong 24 May 2007
Relax. There's really very little to be concerned about. First off I'd like to ask you to keep the same indent for each post so that it is easier to follow who is talking. Secondly of everything you just said I believe agree with 99.9% of it. I am an analytical chemist and I too think it is about the coolest thing in the world. Most of your objections to what I am saying are based on misinterpretations not any actual disagreement. For example I was saying that analytical chemistry is not a collection of techniques. You take examples and generalizations to be specific definitive statements when that is not what is intended. Such as that biophysical chemists have a little "bio" and a little "physics" to their work. This does not imply that there is no distinction between biophysics and biophysical chemistry. My point was that the distinctions between fields is very much blurred, which is the same point that you make as if you are fighting against me. Please reread what I have said. If you would like to work together to make a better article I'm happy to help. If you are simply looking for debate and argument you have come to the wrong place and picked a fight with the wrong person. (Because there is not much we disagree about and because even if we did, our job here is to produce an article not debate issues.)--Nick Y. 17:15, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Working Definition of Analytical Chemistry[edit]

May I suggest that we work on a common definition of Analytical Chemistry? As with any project, having a common understanding of the current position and the goals of the proposed effort helps to concentrate everyone's efforts to the advancement of the project.

It sounds like we have a couple of definitions of Analytical Chemistry floating around in the current article and on the talk page. There are others, but three jump out when I give it a read:

  • Analytical Chemistry is not [...insert a list of other "chemistries"...]
  • Analytical Chemistry is [...insert of list of named techniques and instruments...]
  • Analytical Chemistry is self-evident and awesome

Speaking as an Analytical Chemist I would like to complicate the issue by suggesting a fundamental definition. It is not meant to be a debate on what analytical chemistry "is" but a debate on an efficient way to explain what it is "to a non-analytical chemist". The definition will require a bit of set-up:

  • Physics is the science of Energy
  • Chemistry is the science of Matter
  • Computer Science is the science of Information
  • Biology is the science of Life
    • Physical Chemistry is the science of Energy interacting with Matter
    • Biochemistry is the science of living Matter
    • Organic Chemistry is the science of Matter used by living things
    • Inorganic Chemistry is the science of non-living Matter
    • Analytical Chemistry is the science of measuring Information from Matter
      • The Information includes: identity, composition, configuration, orientation, mass, charge, concentration, excitation state, structure, viscosity, etc...

Thoughts, all? --qswitch426 02:14, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

I always thought that the definition of spectroscopy was the measuring interaction of matter with energy? Which you have chosen for phy chem. --Rifleman 82 07:31, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Hi Rifleman... Yes, Exactly! My specialty is in Ultrafast Laser Spectroscopy. My research group constantly fielded the question "This is Physical Chemistry. Why are you in the Analytical Chemistry Department?" My quick answer concerns which side of the "measuring interaction of matter with energy" you are concentrating on. If you are concentrating on the "matter with energy" side, then you are doing Physical Chemistry. If you are concentrating on the "measurement" side, then you are doing Analytical Chemistry. That is why two different research groups, one in Analytical and one in Physical can appear to be performing the same exact experiments, as mentioned in the previous comment on 2D IR spectroscopy. Information (or Signal) is created by having matter modulate/change energy that has interacted with it. Measurement without results has little value, so a science experiment needs a "methods" section and a "results" section. In spectroscopy, specifically, I suggest the Analytical Chemist will concentrate on the detailed "Methods" section and the Physical Chemist will concentrate on the "Results" section. Both sections must be correct, so the same group can wear two different hats or often the Analytical and Physical spectroscopists will collaborate. To folks outside chemistry it may appear to be a minor/casual distinction, but it is the defining aspect of the specialties. My edits to the page back in May 2006 categorized Analytical Chemistry (spectroscopy, electrochemistry, mass spec, thermo, etc) according to the nature of the energy used to extract the measurement signal from the matter. That explanation has since been been removed by edit from the page, but the grouping still remains. --qswitch426 08:56, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Several points. (1) Spectroscopy is the interaction of radiation with matter, not energy in the general sense. (2) The general definitions at the top are over simple. The definition of inorganic chemistry excludes bioinorganic chemistry. (3) I think analytical chemistry is really about composition - what is there. Simple but often using very complex methods. I do not see determination of structure as analytical chemistry. (4) physical chemistry is the application of physics to chemistry - wider than the interaction of energy with matter. It includes quantum chemistry and structure. (5) Spectroscopy can tell us what is there - analytical - or it can tell us about structure - physical chemistry, but we do the spectroscopy differently to get the two different end points. In the end, analytical chemistry is either qualitative - what is in the mixture being studied - or quantitatively - how much of each substance is present. Everything else is the detail - how we get those answers. --Bduke 12:15, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Hi Bduke. It sounds like you are referring to the classical definitions of Analytical Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis put forth by Douglas Skoog. I earned my degree from the Skoog texts and still refer to them often. If I may quote the lead sentences from the texts by Skoog;
  • "Analytical Chemistry is a measurement science consisting of a set of powerful ideas and methods that are useful in all fields of science and medicine." (Analytical Chemistry: An Introduction ISBN-10: 0030020786)
  • "Analytical Chemistry deals with methods for the determination of chemical composition of samples of matter." (Principles of Instrumental Analysis ISBN-10: 0030202930)
If we use the words "measurement science" and "methods for the determination", is the intentionally over simple Analytical Chemistry is the science of measuring Information from Matter a restatement of the heart of the science while avoiding specialized terms like "bioinorganic" and specific techniques? --qswitch426 13:16, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
I think there is some progress being made here. I generally agree with the measuring information from matter but think it could be more precisely, elegantly and interestingly stated. My proposal: "Analytical chemistry is the science of elucidating the nature of ordinary matter through the measurement of specific defining characteristics." This is intended to, and I think does, include all atoms, any size of molecule, any size of sample, any complexity or simplicity of sample. Note that the "ordinary matter" is necessary to not include quarks, neutron stars etc. --Nick Y. 18:33, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
Hi Nick... I like that quite a lot. --qswitch426 19:04, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
My problem with "elucidating the nature of ordinary matter through the measurement of specific defining characteristics." is that it includes the determination of molecular or crystal structures (bond lengths and bond angles) from crystallography, high resolution spectroscopy and the like. I do not think that is analytical chemistry. --Bduke 23:14, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
How is it not analytical chemistry? I'm interested to know where you draw the line. After all there are many geometric isomers of small molecules. Is distinguishing between them not analytical chemistry? Many bioanalytical chemists spend much of their time concerned with measuring non-covalent structural changes in proteins. To me analytical chemistry is the science of analyzing chemicals in whatever form for whatever end result. Anything may be sampled and anything may be measured. But it must be chemical in nature and it must analyze it for some specific chemically related measurement. Bond angle is a characteristic of a chemical that is quantifiable and measurable. We, of course, recognize a very large overlap with other sciences. Analysis of biomolecules overlaps with biology, analysis of soils overlaps with geology, analysis of water overlaps with hydrology etc. I think where you are concerned is that analysis of bond angle somehow reaches into physical chemistry?? Your concerns are just as valid for biochemistry (much of modern crystallography is biological). Physical chemists perform nearly identical experiments to analytical chemists so that they can understand the physical basis for the observed bond angle. Analytical chemists are interested in measuring the bond angle just to see what it is. Yes the impact is important but the analytical chemist is more interested in measuring it better, more precisely, maybe dynamically rather than statically. Bioanalytical chemists study all sorts of biomolecules but they spend a lot of time figuring out how to measure them better and much less time figuring out what the measurements mean biologically. They are often only as aware of the impact of their measurement has on biology as they need to be to in order measure the right thing and to get more research funding to build a bigger and better instrument that does a better job in measuring whatever it happens to measure. Structure is an important part of analytical chemistry today. It is the same question being asked years ago "what is there?" but it has evolved to answer the question more precisely. Proteins aren't just a generic CxHyNzOxSy molecule. Different conformations even have different names (Think prions). --Nick Y. 00:10, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

The division of chemistry into its different branches (and indeed the division of science into chemistry, biology, etc) is of course not clear cut. I also agree that much the same technique can appear in different branches. If you have a mixture of geometrical isomers and you want to know which are in the mixture and in what amounts you are certainly doing analytical chemistry. If you want to know what geometrical isomers can exist and what their structures are, I do not think you are. In the end I fall back on "X chemistry is what X chemists do". How do we know what they do? We look in journals that are labeled "X Chemistry" or something like that. I do not find high resolution spectroscopy structure determinations in journals of analytical chemistry. I think what you are mostly talking about above re proteins etc is about what biochemists do, and of course one of the things they do is use analytical chemistry techniques but not everything they do is analytical chemistry. As you say analysis overlaps with many other areas. That is because these areas need to do analytical chemistry, but not everything they do is analytical chemistry. I have worked in places with a strong emphasis on analytical chemistry. We taught courses on it, but we taught courses on other aspects of chemistry. What goes into these courses is another way of defining what "X Chemistry" is for the various Xs. In fact here in WP we have the same problem as in teaching chemistry. We need to make somewhat arbitrary decisions about what goes in each article and not put things into many articles as that is, like in curriculum, confusing and time wasting. --Bduke 01:16, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

I think there is a glimmer of consensus in your statement. I say "analytical chemists analyze chemicals". I agree with making a definition consistent with what appears in analytical chemistry journals. We also however need to make it something other than "Science that appears in the journal analytical chemistry" Not the following articles:
  • Enhancing the Signal-to-Noise Ratio of X-ray Diffraction Profiles by Smoothed Principal Component Analysis Chen, Z. P.; Morris, J.; Martin, E.; Hammond, R. B.; Lai, X.; Ma, C.; Purba, E.; Roberts, K. J.; Bytheway, R. Anal. Chem.; (Article); 2005; 77(20); 6563-6570. DOI: 10.1021/ac050616c
  • Full Phase Analysis of Portland Clinker by Penetrating Synchrotron Powder Diffraction

de la Torre, A. G.; Cabeza, A.; Calvente, A.; Bruque, S.; Aranda, M. A. G. Anal. Chem.; (Article); 2001; 73(2); 151-156. DOI: 10.1021/ac0006674

  • Comparison of Solid-State 13C NMR Spectroscopy and Powder X-ray Diffraction for Analyzing Mixtures of Polymorphs of Neotame Padden, B. E.; Zell, M. T.; Dong, Z.; Schroeder, S. A.; Grant, D. J. W.; Munson, E. J.

Anal. Chem.; (Article); 1999; 71(16); 3325-3331. DOI: 10.1021/ac9902446

I believe if you go back far enough you would see more fundamental development of crystallography in analytical oriented journals. Analytical chemistry is somewhat over x-ray crystallography. Neutron diffraction is not passe but hasn't really even become mainstream analytical chemistry. For that matter it is very hard to find anyone publishing anything on acid-base titrations, yet it is highly identified with analytical chemistry. Capillary electrophoresis was only used in small circles in analytical chemistry a few years ago but is now the basis of gene sequencers used everyday by biologists. The thing about analytical chemistry is that it always evolves and once a tool has reached its full potential becomes truly useful we've lost interest. There is nothing more to improve. Most of what most people think of as familiar old time analytical chemistry could be called environmental chemistry or process chemistry. Analytical chemistry does not hold onto techniques that others fields claim as their own with any vigor because its usurpation is the final validation of success. Regarding protein structural changes being in the domain of biochemists: The impact of changes on biochemistry is biochemistry. Coming up with new, better ways to measure it is analytical chemistry.
  • Real-Time Monitoring of Morphological Changes in Living Cells by Electronic Cell Sensor Arrays: An Approach To Study G Protein-Coupled Receptors

Yu, N.; Atienza, J. M.; Bernard, J.; Blanc, SS.; Zhu, J.; Wang, X.; Xu, X.; Abassi, Y. A. Anal. Chem.; (Accelerated Article); 2006; 78(1); 35-43. DOI: 10.1021/ac051695v

  • Pro-CrossLink. Software Tool for Protein Cross-Linking and Mass Spectrometry

Gao, Q.; Xue, S.; Doneanu, C. E.; Shaffer, S. A.; Goodlett, D. R.; Nelson, S. D. Anal. Chem.; (Article); 2006; 78(7); 2145-2149. DOI: 10.1021/ac051339c

  • Using Stable-Isotope-Labeled Proteins for Hydrogen Exchange Studies in Complex Mixtures

Engen, J. R.; Bradbury, E. M.; Chen, X. Anal. Chem.; (Article); 2002; 74(7); 1680-1686. DOI: 10.1021/ac011122s

  • Chemical-Induced Unfolding of Cofactor-Free Protein Monitored by Electrochemistry

Guo, L.-H.; Qu, N. Anal. Chem.; (Small Correspondence); 2006; 78(17); 6275-6278. DOI: 10.1021/ac060351h

Once the technology matures and becomes standardized it evolves away from analytical chemistry and scientists who don't spend all their time worrying about how to make the darn thing work plug their samples in and get out an answer. Analytical chemists have no need to hold on to it. The techniques that are persistent in analytical chemistry education are there primarily because they are cheap and teach the basics of data analysis. Which is of course fundamental measuring anything. Again analytical chemistry is the science of measuring chemistry oriented things, not the practice of measuring chemistry oriented things. Dropping a ball from a tower and measuring the acceleration was once science (physics) but now it is a science demonstration and learning tool. Physicists don't do that anymore.--Nick Y. 02:50, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Nick, you have worked hard on this, but I am really not sure what it all means and I do not have the time to look at your references. At a glance many of these papers seem to fit my more specific view of analytical chemistry. Of course NMR, X-rays, modeling etc can help to determine compositions of mixtures. I am very puzzled by "Again analytical chemistry is the science of measuring chemistry oriented things, not the practice of measuring chemistry oriented things". The job of analytical chemistry laboratories is the latter - the practice of measuring. For years, graduates I have taught have obtained employment in government laboratories and mining laboratories to do exactly that. Academics who label themselves as analytical chemists do the science and develop new methods but the majority of their graduates do the practice. I still fail to see how measuring a bond length is, in general terms, analytical chemistry. Analytical chemistry is saying what substances (yes, including different conformers) are present and in what amounts. The science develops new methods and extends old methods to do this. The practice is, well, practicing it. I'm going to leave it at that, as I probably will not spend much time on this page. --Bduke 04:02, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Well stated, Nick. I'm right with you, Pal... To Bduke, concerning your "I still fail to see how measuring a bond length is, in general terms, analytical chemistry." To emphasize Nick's point, we have two protagonists in "measuring a bond length", "the measuring" and the "bond length". I give you that "bond length" is a Physical Chemistry item. But it is the "measuring" that is claimed by Analytical Chemists.
To your "I am very puzzled by "Again analytical chemistry is the science of measuring chemistry oriented things, not the practice of measuring chemistry oriented things"; At least in the United States, a 4-year undergraduate degree earns you a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry (B.S. or B.A. with no modifier on chemistry). The US does not have a BS or BA in Analytical Chemistry. Schools award graduate Masters and Ph.D. degrees in "Analytical Chemistry". BS or BA Chemists that operate an instrument skillfully or artfully perform manual titrations are correctly termed "technicians". After slogging through the graduate program or developing skills on the job, what Analytical Chemists "do" is the science of discovering, developing and deploying new and improved measurement capability for the analysis of chemistry oriented things. A Quality Control/Quality Assurance laboratory may be termed an "Analytical Laboratory", but the term is correctly applied only if that particular laboratory actively develops their measurement techniques, rather than just pushing samples through commercial equipment and analysis software.
To that end, I respectfully suggest your "Analytical chemistry is saying what substances (yes, including different conformers) are present and in what amounts." is incorrect. I would correct it as "Chemical analysis is saying what substances (yes, including different conformers) are present and in what amounts." I would like to offer a simplification of Nick's earlier definition: Analytical chemistry is the science of measuring the nature of ordinary matter. --qswitch426 12:51, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Qswitch - I like the simplification but I am a little afraid it could be misinterpreted to mean nuclear physics. I know that is not what you mean. Perhaps my definition has that same flaw on further thought. Analytical chemistry is the science of measuring the chemical nature of ordinary matter.--Nick Y. 19:02, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Nick - Awesome. I like your latest version even better. --qswitch426 22:49, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Bduke - Qswitch and I are obviously on the same page. I would like to take a step back now that we have a partial consensus. I (and we I assume) respect and appreciate your input on this issue. I would like to further understand what your objections are and how you see a logical line being drawn between the disciplines. I should point out that I have provided references in the almost discipline defining analytical chemistry journal, "analytical chemistry", of the sort of work that you see as being excluded from analytical chemistry. I would like to reach true consensus so that we can make a great article and your input is important to me.--Nick Y. 19:02, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
To my understanding your view of analytical chemistry is that it is limited to measuring amounts of chemicals and identifying chemicals? These are indeed the most fundamental and also the most traditional specific goals of analytical chemistry. For these reasons they are the most recognizable as analytical chemistry to the non-analytical chemist. The measuring amounts is still true today but it often involves much more difficult questions such as determining the amount of each any every protein in a living being. Modern quantitation also sometimes involves dynamic systems, which is of course true in the previous example. I don't think we are far off on this first one. The issue seems to be more in the "identifying" part. A more modern word of the art is characterization. The difference between identifying and characterization is a slippery slope not because I am making it one for the sake of argument but because of nature. As molecules become larger their characteristics (that which distinguishes one species from another) become more complex and various pockets of distinctness emerge within a molecule for which there is only one primary structure (covalent atomic connectivity). Often these pockets are somewhat dynamic but sometimes the rate of interconversion drops dramatically. Identity becomes intimately involved in structure and even non-covalent interactions. When you consider it closely these same issues come up in small molecules too in less obvious and dramatic ways. Rotomers of ethane is maybe the simplest one I can think of. Are they the same species? They are the same "chemical" but they have different characteristics and may be speciated from each other. Speciating them involves chemical analysis, i.e. analytical chemistry. As they can now be speciated, we can quantitate the amount of each species, the other goal of analytical chemistry. The truth is that where an empirical formula was once synonymous with identity, today we approach the question of identity from a different perspective. We speak of sample characterization instead of identity for many reasons (but most succinctly because we slid down that slippery slope back in about the 1970's). The samples we deal with are more complex and we can produce vast amounts of data that may in the end not identify anything but have much meaning nonetheless. We are able to observe dynamics. We can speciate within a single chemical. Now step back to the more traditional. Is the mass of a molecule enough to characterize it? Probably not. Maybe we need a crystal structure? Maybe that crystal structure only freezes a single conformation. Maybe we need something better? Where is the line. I say the line is in measuring and characterizing chemicals. As our instruments become more capable we characterize new characteristics that help better define what is there chemically. Not why or how it is there, nor how we can use it. Simply, what is there, and how much of it is there. You don't need to be as long winded as I, but perhaps you could define the line you see clearly for us to consider.--Nick Y. 19:02, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Nick, I appreciate that you want my concerns, so I will try to be a bit more reflective. Your last paragraph does not really contain anything I disagree with. Your summary ".. what is there chemically. Not why or how it is there, nor how we can use it. Simply, what is there, and how much of it is there." is what I have been saying, so perhaps we are close. I entirely agree that doing what is in that quote is complex and has got more complex. My concern is that you seem to be saying that any measurement in chemistry is analytical chemistry. I do not agree with that. Back to the bond length point. I have known many people who measure bond lengths. They call themselves crystallogaphers or spectrocopists. They do not call themselves analytical chemists. However, I can see that in some cases measurement of bond lengths (particularly to see the difference from "standard" lengths) might be useful in analytical chemistry, as, for example, an indicator of dimer formation due to hydrogen bonding.

I think my concerns are wider. This very long section starts with:-

  • Physical Chemistry is the science of Energy interacting with Matter
  • Biochemistry is the science of living Matter
  • Organic Chemistry is the science of Matter used by living things
  • Inorganic Chemistry is the science of non-living Matter
  • Analytical Chemistry is the science of measuring Information from Matter

I think I disagree with every one of these, except perhaps "Biochemistry". I also suggest that these definitions are new and hence OR. For example my old edition of Morrison and Boyd starts with "Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds". I think most texts have a similar definitions, with perhaps the caveat that are grey areas and carbonates and carbon oxides, where similarities to other anions and oxides is important, are inorganic chemistry. Inorganic chemistry is often defined as the chemistry of everything else. The idea that it is about "non-living" matter is clearly wrong as bioinorganic chemistry is clearly part of inorganic chemistry. Physical chemistry is not just about energy. It about the application of physics to chemistry and the development of general principles and theories that are not specific to a particular chemical or group of chemicals, but rather apply much more widely if not across the whole of chemistry. The definition of analytical chemistry is too general rather than too restricted. All four other areas mentioned involve measuring information from matter. So even "Analytical chemistry is the science of measuring the chemical nature of ordinary matter" is too wide. I am sorry, but I think User:Qswitch426 got this whole section off in the wrong direction. Very abstract definitions of sub-disciplines do not seem to work well. I think we need pragmatic definitions related to what people do.

I have problems with the distinction between "Analytical chemistry" and "chemical analysis". I think that analytical chemistry is what analytical chemists do and what they do is chemical analysis and developing new methods of chemical analysis. Some lean more to the former and some more to the latter. I have known some very good analytical chemists outside academia (and of course inside, but I want to concentrate on the eminent Ph D analytical chemists in public and private laboratories) and that is what they do. Part of their work is as technicians, or in training more junior people to drive instruments. Part of it is in extending the practice to get higher precision and wider applicability. Part of it can be developing completely new methods. Part of it is the very highly intellectually demanding job of interpreting their data. Part of it too is of course management. Note that I am not trying here to write a definition. I leave that to others. I am trying to develop ideas. --Bduke 02:44, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Hi Bduke. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. While the philosophical framework used to launch this topic is appearing on this talk page for the first time, it is most definitely not OR. The framework is that of Systems thinking, which is defined on WP as "an approach to analysis that is based on the belief that the component parts of a system will act differently when isolated from its environment or other parts of the system." It has its origins in the 1920's and has seen increased peer-reviewed works since the 1950's. As Analytical Chemistry develops from (1) "How can we measure this?" to (2) "How little can we measure?" into (3) "How can we measure this where it is?", Systems thinking is being employed to understand how an analyte is affected by its surroundings. The domination of Chromatography in Analytical Chemistry and Chemical Analysis is beginning to fade as the research questions are focusing on the dynamic behavior of complex molecules in their native environment rather than in the sterile isolation of a chromatographic solvent. Systems thinking can be used to explain the emergence of integrated subdisciplines, including organometallic chemistry, biochemistry, etc., and active research in the "-ics", such as bioinformatics, proteomics, genomics, and the like.
As to the old edition of Morrison and Boyd, I believe we are in agreement. "Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds" ---> "Biology is the study of carbon-based life" ---> ergo "Organic Chemistry is the science of Matter used by living things". While synthetic organic chemistry also develops compounds not found in nature, I submit that from a Systems thinking view, their application is most often biomimetic given the prevalence of research into synthetic fibers, tissue, and pharmaceuticals. --qswitch426 12:25, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

For the purposes of this discussion I think what qswitch is saying is that he was not stating definitions per se but establishing a logical framework from which specific definitions can be made. I.e. there is logic behind the subdividing of the subdisciplines and to look at that logic helps us understand where analytical chemistry fits. Organic chemistry is not defined as "Organic Chemistry is the science of Matter used by living things" but its importance and logical placement or even existence as a subdiscipline is due to that life is carbon based and visa versa that carbon molecules are capable of complexity that allows for life. The actual definition may differ from the logic of its existence.
Regarding your response to what I was saying: I think the point where we are differing is that to you there is some distinction between "what is there?" and "what are the things there like?". To me and the many analytical chemists that distinction lost. The only way to understand what is there is to measure what they are like, what are the characteristics that distinguish them. The more specifically you characterize the better job you have done in determining what is there. Analytical chemistry has moved on from homogeneous static samples. By what is there we also mean "when" "where" and "in what relation to other things". We are interested in chemicals interacting with surfaces versus in solution. We are still asking "what is there" but we are spatially resolving the question. When we ask questions involving time we are just temporally resolving the same question (this has been done for a long time by taking a time course of static homogeneous samples). Regarding digging down into the atomic level structure we are just taking the question to a higher level of specificity. Often we do not need a high level of specificity but sometimes we do. As we are more capable of that specificity we will more readily tread there. You may notice that analytical chemists tend to look at complex systems and physical chemists tend to look at simple system, perhaps even with the same tools. That is because as analytical chemists we feel no need to ask what is there with high specificity if theory already tells us the answer. Methane is clearly tetrahedral, okay, not interesting. Physical chemists look at slightly more complex systems than is established so they can test and improve theory. Analytical chemists look at systems where the answer is unknown and establish empirical answers to what is there. This can involve bond lengths and bond angles if such specificity is needed to understand what is there. If theory will suffice, then so be it, but it is not off limits just old hat. Protein structures are definitely not all well established and many analytical chemists work on such things. The standard methods are well established and have been adopted by biochemists, but that does not mean that we can't find new ways to do it. You don't see many biochemists doing gas phase deuterium exchange experiments. I guess what I really don't get is how measuring a bond length is not asking what is there. What is there is an arrangement of atoms that we call chemicals. It is simply a more specific answer and yes analytical chemists do it and publish it in analytical chemistry journals. Perhaps you see the "chemical" as can be purchased as the end of the question of what is there. In my mind and work purchased chemicals are mixtures because they contain different isotopes. The "chemical" is definitely a good way of organizing and characterizing things and analytical chemists use it ubiquitously but there are several more layers of organization of the chemical world. I guess it come down to what you definition of "is" is. Or maybe what your definition of "what" is. Analytical chemists ask "what is there at the chemical level" not "what chemicals are there".--Nick Y. 18:34, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, guys, I really do not have time today to go into depth. We are talking past each other. Of course I understand what you are saying, Nick, although I must admit I have no idea what qswitch426 is saying in his second paragraph about the definition of organic chemistry (I am probably being dim, but you will have to clarify that for me). My main objection, which you are not addressing, is that all the definitions of analytical chemistry that you have discussed in this section imply that whenever chemists make measurements they are doing analytical chemistry. I think that is false. It will also be seen by some people as sub-discipline imperialism. The boundaries between sub-disciplines are flexible and somewhat unclear (and I have always preferred to work in departments that did not make such distinctions by having sections or sub-departments) but they are not completely open or meaningless. A definition of analytical chemistry has to take this flexibility into account but nevertheless explain what an analytical chemist does that distinguishes them from organic, inorganic and physical chemists. The definitions discussed here do not do that. --Bduke 23:17, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Hi Bduke; You stated "My main objection, which you are not addressing, is that all the definitions of analytical chemistry that you have discussed in this section imply that whenever chemists make measurements they are doing analytical chemistry. I think that is false. It will also be seen by some people as sub-discipline imperialism." We are in TOTAL agreement. Making a measurement defines you as an Analytical Chemist as much as driving a car defines you as an Automotive Engineer. Designing a new car or making improvements defines you as an Automotive Engineer. That is what an Automotive Engineer "does". Measuring bond angle is what a Technician does. Measuring bond angle to develop or improve a theory of electron charge repulsion is what a Physical Chemist does. Developing or improving a method or instrument for measuring bond angle is what an Analytical Chemist does. I think we have been saying this from the beginning of the conversation. Have we been dancing around this point, or do we have a true disagreement? --qswitch426 13:05, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I think we are getting still closer. The key is to avoid the "subdiscipline imperialism." I fully endorse what qswitch is saying and would like to expand/make it more clear. I use organic chemistry to tag carbon molecules with other carbon molecules. I am not an organic chemist. An organic chemist uses analytical chemistry techniques to confirm successful synthesis. That does not make them an analytical chemist. Organic chemists do research into the reactions of carbon compounds, new, interesting reactions. Analytical chemists use old boring reactions that just work for their own ends. Analytical chemists do research on new, interesting ways to measure new interesting things. While organic chemists use old, boring analytical instruments that simply work to confirm something about organic chemistry. Simply because someone uses an element of another subdiscipline does not mean there is any real cross-discipline work going on. Organic chemists are interested in carbon compounds. Analytical chemists are interested in measuring atomic and molecular characteristics progressively better. Are biochemists really organic chemists? No and neither are biophysicists. There certainly is a lot of organic chemistry going on in both of those fields but it is not what they are really interested in. Now regarding non-research, the practice of these fields. You might call a technician who synthesizes chemicals an "organic chemist" and a technician who measures the pharmacokinetics of the new drug an "analytical chemist". The organic technician may use a mass spectrometer to confirm sythesis as part of their job function. The analytical chemist may do a derivitization reaction so that the drug may be more easily detected. It is the primary job function that defines their categorization. This is analogous to the research interests of an academic. A physical chemist will do whatever they must to get to the bottom of their question of interest. If that means synthesizing a new molecule, so be it. If it means building a new instrument , so be it. These just aren't the focus of their research and they aren't necessarily that good at them because they just don't really care that much. Admittedly experimental P-chemists are better at analytical chemistry than they are at O-chem. Analytical chemists make frequent use of physics, physical chemistry (i.e. theory), organic chemistry, and increasingly today biochemistry to further our understanding of "what is there" and in making better ways to measure what is there. They however only learn as much theory as helps them in those goals. They only learn as much biochem as they need to understand the context of their measurements and what is yet to be measured. Yes that biochemistry and biology is very interesting and all but I really am only interested in measuring new things and in the end I am very happy that someone can use my measurements but I lose interest and ask what is the next thing to measure and how can I do it better. That is my primary research interest and defines me as an analytical chemist despite working with carbon based biomolecules answering questions that biochemists care about. I work with many biochemists and even MDs and they could care less about how I measure what I measure as long as it works. They only learn as much as they need to to have some grasp on what is possible in terms of furthering their own research interests, which are things like "why are these people getting sick". As an analytical chemist I know that synthesis is not my forte so I only do the easy stuff. MD's use some simple analytical tools sometimes but when it comes to doing something really hard they call on analytical chemists. I use over the counter drugs to treat my headache but I don't try to treat my own cancer. I go to a doctor. I would say that analytical chemistry is perhaps more widely used by non-analytical chemists than any other subdiscpline but it is still analytical chemistry. If I perform a grignard synthesis am I doing organic chemistry? I think yes, but it doesn't make me an organic chemist.--Nick Y. 20:13, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Nick. People in one area frequently make use of other areas and I also agree that "analytical chemistry is perhaps more widely used by non-analytical chemists than any other subdiscpline". It is qswitch426 I disagree with. He said he supported the wording "Analytical chemistry is the science of measuring the chemical nature of ordinary matter". He then said "Developing or improving a method or instrument for measuring bond angle is what an Analytical Chemist does". I disagree with both. On the first, you said "Measuring bond angle to develop or improve a theory of electron charge repulsion is what a Physical Chemist does". That contradicts the definition you support. The second, I suppose, is an extension of the first, but is frankly nonsense. Scientists doing that would call themselves spectroscopists or physical chemists or something else but not analytical chemists in my experience. I also disagree with the distinction you make between the science of developing new methods and the use of such methods that is done by "technicians". If the user of the methods does this for the major part of his work and is qualified by a degree in chemistry to make a professional judgment on the results, he is an analytical chemist, not a technician. Many of the people I have known in mining and environment analytical laboratories have Ph D's and do great science. They often have technicians (i.e. people trained below degree level) to do some of the routine work and they sometimes develop new methods or extend old methods but the bulk of what they do is analysis and the professional judgment on the results. That is part of the discipline of analytical chemistry and indeed in terms of people involved, perhaps the major part. Yes, qswitch426, I think we do have a true disagreement. I find your arguments elitist, inconsistent and, as I said before, discipline imperialistic (you want to take into your area of chemistry stuff that properly belongs elsewhere). It does not seem to me that you and Nick actually agree. You are saying different things and I largely agree with Nick, except for the definition which still seems to be claiming all measurements done by chemical scientists as within the area of analytical chemistry.

Well I find myself in the interesting position of mostly agreeing with two people that are under the impression that they disagree. I would say that there seems to be some level of disconnect and misunderstanding. We should remember that we may sometimes use inaccurate language and we should not be held to account for it but simply refine what we are saying instead. Bduke I think there are some subtleties to what qswitch is saying that you are missing. Where you see contradiction I see consistency. When I expand upon those subtleties you seem to agree with me. "Measuring bond angle to develop or improve a theory of electron charge repulsion is what a Physical Chemist does" is 100% what I was speaking about above. "Developing or improving a method or instrument for measuring bond angle is what an Analytical Chemist does" is also what I was speaking about above. The analytical chemist is 100% about the measurement. The p-chemist uses some amount of analytical chemistry to help develop or improve a theory. The case of analytical and physical chemistry tends to be a difficult one to parse. They often do the same thing with the same instruments but for different purposes. The p-chemist is interested in empirically testing theory while the analytical chemist is interested in empirically observing chemical matter. The analytical chemist measures the bond angle in order to determine what it is while the p-chemist measures it to see if it fits theory. It really can be a fine distinction. The fact is, however, that there are separate departments and degrees for these. I would point out also that analytical chemists sometimes make very heavy use physical chemistry and physics. We will take theory and use it to interpret our data, such as doing molecular modeling to see why some molecules form non-covalent complexes while others do not. We don't, however feed the data bcak into developing or improving the theory, we just use it.--Nick Y. 03:35, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Hi Bduke. Hmmm... I'm puzzled. I thought Nick and I were presenting the same theme. I view the specialization of Analytical Chemistry as being that of the tool makers while the other specializations are users of those tools. I also view Analytical Chemistry as being a service specialty to the other chemists that are solving problems associated with their own areas of chemistry. Perhaps our actual disagreement is with the word "science". WP describes science; " refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method...", with the scientific method involving the formulation of a hypothesis. When a zoologist uses an electronic balance to measure the mass of a frog, the zoologist's hypothesis may go something like "I predict this new feed will increase the body mass of this frog." When an Analytical Chemist uses an electronic balance to measure the mass of a frog, the Analytical Chemist's hypothesis may go something like "I predict this new code in the balance's DSP chip will provide a more accurate mass of a frog."
I also stick by my guns that a technician, no matter how skilled, is not testing any hypothesis concerning the performance of an instrument when they are following the standard operating procedure. Placing a sample vial into an automated sampler and pressing the enter key does not grant the operator the title "Analytical Chemist". In the absence of a hypothesis on the performance of the measurement, there is no Analytical Chemistry being performed, only chemical analysis. "Technician" is not a pejorative term, but it is also not synonymous with the title Analytical Chemist. After my B.S. or B.A. students go off to graduate school and slog through advanced courses and defend original research in transducers, signal modeling, instrument design and data analysis, I would be delighted to call them fellow Analytical Chemists. To many that may sound elitist. To others it may appear as simply preserving the value of the specialization. --qswitch426 03:58, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

OK. we clearly do not agree and I am going to leave it to you guys, with these few comments:

  • I believe that there is real support among chemists for agreeing that "chemical analysis" is part, but not all of, "analytical chemist" when the analytical chemist is using professional judgment about the data obtained. Excluding chemical analysis done by professional chemists is not NPOV.
  • Similarly, analytical chemistry is not just about the performance of the instrument and other matters concerned with developing methods.
  • You do not need to go to Grad School to be an analytical chemist and many who do do stuff wider than suggested above and many go on to run analytical chemistry laboratories. At least they do in Australia.
  • Other specialisms use the tools, but if a chemist spends all his time using the tools, he is an analytical chemist.
  • "Developing or improving a method or instrument for measuring bond angle is what an Analytical Chemist does". No, traditionally, the people who develop methods for the determination of molecular geometries did not call themselves analytical chemists and I do not see that changing. Hell, when I did a Ph D, the guys in the room next door developing a mass spect to study kinetics did not call themselves analytical chemists either. They were physical chemists and I'm not talking about the name of the department. We were physical chemists working in the Dept of Inorganic Chem as it happened.
  • I am in a group now that does molecular modeling and they do not feed the results back into the theory. They just use it. They are medicinal chemists and they specifically think of themselves as computational chemists. They do not call themselves analytical chemists.
  • "The analytical chemist is 100% about the measurement." Yes, but being 100% about the measurement does not necessarily mean that you are an analytical chemist. If you define analytical chemistry as being about measurement, as you seem to be doing, you are including people who do not think of themselves as analytical chemists and are not.
  • If your side of this disagreement (and I still think we are disagreeing) gets into the article I think you will find many participants in the Chemistry WikiProject will jump in and disagree.

I'm leaving it here. You are the analytical chemists. See how it goes and good luck. --Bduke 05:35, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Hi Bduke. Of the 91 WPedians currently listed on the Chemistry WikiProject, only 4 have self-identified their specialty as Analytical Chemistry. At best, this group may consider Analytical Chemistry as a routine part of what every chemist "does" in the laboratory and don't believe it deserves mentioning. At worst, these chemists may consider Analytical Chemistry as feeding solvents to an army of HPLCs, and don't wish to be identified with such triviality. If I may inject my POV on this talk page, I recall our grad research group was always butting heads with the P-chem groups, mostly because we had nearly identical equipment in our respective laboratories but did not appreciate the beauty of the latest mathematical quantum operator. We also rarely interacted with the organic and inorganic groups, mostly because we did not appreciate the beauty of a board full of reaction mechanisms. The biochemists worked in yet another building and we did not appreciate the beauty of a system of interrelated metabolic cycles. My POV on this talk page is that there is beauty in the science of measurement. Beauty is not a zero-sum game. Every chemical specialty has its own beauty and does not require the diminishment of the other specialties to be appreciated.
So to my final comments - Undergraduates in chemical analysis class often conclude Analytical Chemistry is mindless titration. I would love to outlaw the weeks spent on the development of manual titration as a necessary skill. Undergraduates in instrumental analysis class often conclude Analytical Chemistry is fighting with an old instrument that is perpetually in a state a disrepair. When a department purchases a modern instrument, it arrives as a small box with a touch screen displaying a single button that says "Start" and a label that says "warranty VOID if opened". Of the extremely few that choose to continue on to graduate work in Analytical Chemistry, I am one that delights in evangelizing the beauty of measurement science -- not its "importance", but its "beauty". In a representative democracy, the minority is defined by the minority. In a true democracy, such as WP, the minority is often defined by the majority. I hope old stereotypes of Analytical Chemists as sample jockeys does not win out. --qswitch426 12:14, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
I have to come back to respond to these gracious comments in response to my increasing frustration at your earlier comments. I entirely agree that there is beauty in the science of measurement. I just do not think that analytical chemists have a monopoly on that beauty. I also do not think that analytical chemists are "sample jockeys", although that is an Americanism that I'm not sure I have all the nuances of. Analytical chemists are professional chemists in difficult and challenging places. I started at Oxford in a time and place where analytical chemistry was neither important nor a discipline of chemistry. I moved later to Lancaster University where the one inorganic chemist who tried to move into analytical chemistry had a hard time for the same reasons. I then worked in Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and the Northern Territory of Australia where I learned the importance of analytical chemistry. I will always remember being driven up an extremely hairy road to the top of the mountain in Papua New Guinea that was the Ok Tedi Gold Mine to find in the mist and constant heavy tropical rain a first class analytical lab run by professional analytical chemists. Later in the Northern Territory, I came to know and place our students with the chemists who worked on issues related to the Ranger Uranium Mine situated in the World Heritage Kakadu National Park. This was of course an extremely demanding role. It is that experience that drives me to state that analytical chemists are out there doing a professional job of chemical analysis and not just in university laboratories developing new methods. I fully support a modern view of analytical chemistry. However, me, I've not made a measurement in 44 years other than in teaching students! I do theory on computers. Take care. Avoid the POV and try to make a great contribution to Wikipedia. --Bduke 13:18, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

I have some comments regarding the bond length issue. I also think that measuring bond lengths "belongs" more to physical chemistry than to analytical chemistry. But I also recognize that most instrumental methods in analytical chemistry started in physics or in physical chemistry. Only when they evolved into practical methods for analyzing the composition of matter did they "become" analytical chemistry. Has the measurement of molecular structure reached that stage? One could argue that crystallography has, although its practitioners often call themselves crystallographers rather than analytical chemists. But crystallography can also be used to identify materials and to analyze mixtures. In contrast, I would argue that more accurate methods such as microwave spectroscopy used to measure bond lengths and angles do not "belong" to analytical chemistry. First, all the papers that I've seen on that area have been on J Chem Phys and similar journals. Also, what does an analytical chemist care if a C-C bond in ethane is 1.540 or 1.541 Å long? I imagine that they might only if this measurement could be correlated with something of practical interest, such as identifying different molecules in a mixture. But physical chemists didn't necessarily measure these bond lengths just to test and improve a theory, as has been suggested here. At one time, people really "just wanted to know" the structures of basic molecules such as water, methane, ammonia, methanol, etc. (Note: maybe microwave spectroscopy has practical applications in analytical chemistry, but I don't think measuring bond lengths is one of them.) --Itub 11:01, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Hi Itub. Welcome back and I'm sorry you missed the fun! I've had some time for our debate to soak in and I'm not sure how to express my definition of Analytical Chemistry without appearing to disparage the other sub disciplines. First and foremost, we (Physical-, Organic-, Inorganic-, Biochemical-, and Analytical-) are ALL "Chemists". As "Chemists" we are all "Scientists". As "Scientists" we accomplish our duties using the Scientific Method. As part of the Scientific Method, we generate and test a "Hypothesis". A hypothesis does not take the form "I predict that I will receive a value of bond length after I press the enter key on the instrument". A hypothesis generated by an Analytical Chemist may be "I predict that this method will yield a more accurate value of bond length after I incorporate an optical stabilization circuit into this instrument." Using an instrument is the duty of a "Technician". As I stated earlier, a technician is not a bad term. I equate "technician" with "musician":
  • A Musician practices then performs a piece of music. When done correctly, the musician becomes rich and famous.
  • A Composer works to create sequences and combinations of musical notes for musicians to use. When done correctly, many musicians can perform their sequences and combinations of musical notes all over the world and well into the future.
  • A Chemical Analyst or Technician practices then utilizes a method or instrument to perform an analysis. When done correctly, the technician becomes rich and famous.
  • An Analytical Chemist works to create sequences and combinations of reaction steps and energy-handling components for technicians to use. When done correctly, many technicians can perform their analyses all over the world and well into the future.
To your statement, "Also, what does an analytical chemist care if a C-C bond in ethane is 1.540 or 1.541 Å long?" -- An Analytical Chemist "cares" that the measurement was made to the best of our ability, given our current level of understanding and technology. Is the last significant digit a "0" or a "1"? Is that difference due to a rounding error? Is that difference due to noise? Is the bond length dynamic and actually oscillating between 1.540 and 1.541 Å? If we made the measurement 256 times, how is the average affected? An "Analytical Chemist" cares about the measurement. If the measurement can be improved to yield improved results, that is what an Analytical Chemist cares about. My concern is that the WP article on Analytical Chemistry will become a WP article on Chemical Analysis. The current WP article on Musician states "A musician is a person who plays or composes music." And then there is a separate WP article on Composer. I think there is a general understanding of the difference between a singer and singer/songwriter. It is my hope that this article can emphasize the difference between Analyst and Analyst/Analytical Chemist. --qswitch426 12:03, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I grant that the analytical chemist cares about the measurement itself, about doing the best possible measurement as you say. But the measurement of what? Surely there are limits to the scope of what you can measure and still call it analytical chemist. If you develop a better method to measure the length of a desk, you are not doing analytical chemistry. If you develop a better balance to measure the mass of an object, you are not doing analytical chemistry. If you develop a better thermometer, you are not doing analytical chemistry. If you develop a better method to measure a bond length, my opinion is that you are not doing analytical chemistry either. I see the scope of analytical chemistry as limited by the classical Skoog definition: "determination of chemical composition of samples of matter". Measuring a precise bond length for a small molecule is not determining a chemical composition; it is determining a physical property of a molecule. Measuring the complete crystal structure of a protein could arguably be called analytical chemistry because there you are learning qualitative information about the molecule (i.e., how it folds, or what is the dominant conformer). There will of course be a gray area for medium-sized molecules... --Itub 12:17, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree with your limits on Analytical Chemistry. WP is an encyclopedia that relies heavily on documented references and NPOV. I think it would be best if we limit the scope and definition of Analytical Chemistry to that of "determination of chemical composition of samples of matter." It would greatly simplify things. Also, Yale University doesn't even recognize Analytical Chemistry as an official subdiscipline. Do we need even need this WP page? --qswitch426 12:39, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
We certainly need this page, despite the fact that most chemistry departments in the United States (including Yale) don't have analytical chemistry divisions. That doesn't mean no one does analytical chemistry (in the sense of developing new methods), but they might do it as part of larger projects. It probably has to do with the funding... --Itub 09:15, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Back to the definition[edit]

Wow, I'm away for a week and look at all the discussion that I missed! In any case, I propose basing the definition used for the lead of the article on what the textbooks use. Some of the other definitions that have been proposed here are "too original" in my opinion to be suitable for Wikipedia, or are too abstract and general. I would take any of the Skoog definitions over any of the other proposals. However, I note that they were called "classical". Was that to imply that they are outdated in some way? I wouldn't agree, but if that is the implication, then what do the most recent and innovative textbooks say? --Itub 10:41, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Here is what NIST has to say about their Analytical Chemistry Division. --qswitch426 13:49, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Here is how the Analytical Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society defines Analytical Chemistry. --qswitch426 13:53, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I quite like "Analytical Chemistry seeks ever improved means of measuring the chemical composition of natural and artificial materials". It stresses measurement but it limits it to the chemical composition of .. materials". BTW, in earlier discussions I should have mentioned one group that is really hot on measurement and developing new methods but are not doing analytical chemistry. They are the disappearing group of people who measure enthalpies of formation and the like. They start from pure materials so composition is not the target. --Bduke 22:21, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I like that definition too, but perhaps there is some level of disagreement over what "composition" means. To me composition inherently includes structure. There was a point in time in analytical chemistry when composition became synonymous with percent composition. These are not the same. Percent composition asks what is it composed of and how much of each of these elements. When one elucidates the composition of material the question is exactly how is it constructed, with what materials, in what proportions, in what geometrical and spatial configuration. Percent composition is like color analysis of a painting, whereas the composition is the whole painting. How many times is C# played in a musical composition is not the same as the composition. Western music is composed of only 13 notes and their harmonics. A musicologist that studies exclusively western music will go on to study things like how they are used together to form chords and how they can be put together in time to produce a composition. I like the definition because to me the composition of material is the whole picture i.e. "the composition". As analytical chemists we elucidate the composition. Determining the percent composition is a part of that as is determining the geometrical parameters. What it is composed of is not the same as the chemical composition.--Nick Y. 21:45, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
Here's some more grist for the mill. Skoog West and Holler 7th Ed (ISBN 0030059380 - a good lower division book with "wet" analytical and some beginning instrumental) says that “Analytical chemistry involves separating, identifying and determining the relative amounts of the components in a sample of matter. Qualitative analysis reveals the chemical identity of the species in the sample. Quantitative analysis reveals the relative amount of one or more of these species, or analytes … a separation step is usually a necessary part of both a qualitative and a quantitative analysis.” That's not a bad definition: what chemicals are present and how much, separations are useful to answer this question. Topics are Error analysis, Gravimetric, Titrimetric (acid/base, redox, precipitation, complex formation), Electrochemistry (potentiometry, coulometry, electrogravimetric, voltammetry), Spectroscopy (UV/Vis, fluorescence, IR absorption, atomic absorption and emission), kinetics (stop-flow), chromatography (GC, LC). Skoog, Holler and Nieman, 5th Ed (ISBN 0030020786 - the upper division instrumental text) says that analytical chemistry is “deal[ing] with methods for determining the chemical composition of samples of matter. A qualitative method yields information about the identity of atom or molecular species or the functions groups of the sample; a quantitative method in contrast provides numerical information as to the relative amount of one or more of these components.” Methods are defined as classical or instrumental. Classical methods include precipitation, extraction and distillation. Qualitative analysis includes ID by color, BP, MP, solubility, odor, optical activity, refractive index (we tend to forget about these). Quantitative methods include gravimetric and titrimetric. Instrumental methods measurement of conductivity, electrode potential, absorption and emission of light, mass-to-charge of ions. In addition to the Skoog West and Holler topics, there are mass spectrometry (in the spectroscopy section natch), surface microscopy and spectroscopy (XPS, Auger, UV PES, SIMS, LAMMA, electron microscopy, AFM, STM), and capillary electrophoresis and SFC under separations. Partial wish list for the article: Signal and noise (shot noise, johnson noise, flicker noise, etc.), error analysis (random error, systematic error, precision vs. accuracy), Standard Addition (<-- an orphan!!!), standards in general, Izaak Kolthoff and others in the history section. That said, the article is much better than when I last saw it and has a good overall framework. --Kkmurray 04:32, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
The surface and imaging techniques mentioned are clearly not measuring percent composition and thus the authors must mean composition in the true sense of the word. The problem I have with limiting the definition to percent composition is that there are more and more analytical chemistry techniques that deal with structure and distributions etc.--Nick Y. 19:23, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree with considering structure as part of the composition when you are learning something qualitative from the structure. For example, looking at the structure of materials such as glasses and polymers, or biomolecules. But I insist that measuring a precise bond length "just for the sake of structural information" is more physical chemistry than analytical chemistry. --Itub 19:32, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Well it looks like we are really close. Perhaps we don't need to resolve the last little bit. We agree generally that structure both microscopically (distribution) and chemically is part of composition and that determining the chemical composition of materials and more importantly developing new ways to do so is what analytical chemists do. "Analytical Chemistry seeks ever improved means of measuring the chemical composition of natural and artificial materials" is satisfactory to everyone and we all understand that composition is not percent composition but the whole picture. Where things are and how they are conformed. It is true that analytical chemistry has traditionally been more successful at determining percent composition but has evolved to address other aspects of composition. The only place we seem to disagree is about very specific examples at the edge between composition (structure) and quantum physics (structure) of molecules. This is natural. Again I would state that in this gray area it depends on your motivation. If you are interested in determining composition then it's analytical chemistry. If you are interested in the underlying quantum mechanics that dictates structure it's physical chemistry. The fact is that today's analytical chemists really aren't interested in such things at such a fine level and it becomes a moot, academic, philosophical discussion. I guess I agree with you on a practical level but not on a philosophical level. Analytical chemistry is concerned with chemical composition and there are no fundamental limitations on those interests other than being "chemical composition". Subatomic no way. Fine detail of the chemical composition determined with absolute accuracy including time dependence of the placement and bonding of every atom in a sample, a lofty goal within the scope of analytical chemistry but impractical and out of reach. Just as understanding the quantum mechanics of a protein with near absolute precision by solving its Schrodinger equation (by some successive approximation scheme of course) and being able to predict motion using a time dependent version is clearly physical chemistry, it's just not possible and somewhat irrelevant to teh evolution of p-chem at this point in time.--Nick Y. 20:04, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Willing to help[edit]

I am interested in contributing to the article and reading through some various books. I would significantly appreciate suggestions as to what terms to look closely at to get a better grasp on analytical chemistry (techniques, tools, designs, etc.). Most intriguing to me are the miniaturization methods to get all of the techniques on the lab on a chip, but setting up ultraclean labs is also important. Personally, I cringe when I realize the fact that I know so little of the structure of materials around me. Suggestions? Happy hunting. -- kanzure 21:45, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

We need to expand the traditional analytical techniques section. If you are fairly new to the field this might be a good place to contribute. I can always help clean up your contributions if you are not certain about things. It is best to bring along a reference (the book that you learned it from). If you have specific interests go ahead but make sure to reference your additions when possible.--Nick Y. 17:20, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
Nick, I have looked into Settle's 1997 Handbook of Instrumental Techniques for Analytical Chemists and have extracted a list of techniques and tools that may serve helpful in guiding content to work on: gas chromatography, high performance liquid chromatography, ion chromatography, supercritical fluid chromatography, capillary electrophoresis, planar chromatography, infrared spectrometry (dispersive and Fourier transform), Raman spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry, x-ray spectrometry, atomic absorption spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, atomic fluorescence spectrometry, visible/ultraviolet spectrometry, molecular fluorescence spectrometry, chemiluminescence spectrometry, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, electron ionization mass spectroscopy, chemical ionization mass spectroscopy, gas chromatography mass spectrometry, fast atom bombardments mass spectroscopy, high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy, laser mass spectroscopy, amperometric techniques, voltammetric techniques, potentiometric techniques, conductiometric techniques, atomic force microscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy, Auger electron spectrometry, x-ray photon electron spectrometry, secondary ion mass spectroscopy, size exclusion chromatography, low-angle laser light scattering, light obscuration particle size techniques, pyrolysis techniques, thermal techniques, mechanical property techniques. Edit: note also that linking over to laboratory glassware is appropriate considering glass is useful medium in which to do chemical reactions. -- kanzure 05:57, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
There is obviously a lot of individual articles to build. Note, however, that at least some of the articles you have listed actually exist under other names. Be sure to look carefully for them first. For example high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy is listed under Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and Raman spectrometry is essentially included under Raman spectroscopy.--Nick Y. 18:41, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Some link browsing led me to the following possibly useful page: List of materials analysis methods. Looks like an older list. -- kanzure 15:07, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Also, it appears that the direction to go for this article might be to include more useful explanations of the various analytical techniques and the instruments, such as the design of the instruments and brief blurbs of the history, etc. For example, there are some great "do it yourself" articles out there on the WWW re: spectroscopy with, say, CDs. And I have just obtained this neat little analytical chemistry textbook from the local Half Price Books store. -- kanzure 15:48, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
Looks like things are coming along well. We need to be careful not to make this page into a list but such a list is definitely useful to analytical chemistry. --Nick Y. 17:27, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
Nick, I was thinking that it may be useful to keep the list on the page until more detail is added and we can splice it up into multiple pages and lists, otherwise the content usually does not get enough watchful eyes. -- kanzure 17:30, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
It's alright for the short term. I hope you are aware of [3] which probably needs a sub category "analytical chemistry techniques" or the like in which this list could effectively reside through categorizing all of the relevant pages. That way as people add a technique and think to categorize it properly the list is automatically updated. As long as your are editing apges and compiling what falls into such a category you may as well start this process.--Nick Y. 18:05, 19 June 2007 (UTC)


In the intention of being accurate, this article loses the proper definition. Since a separation of analytical chemistry with other sub-disciplines of Chemistry is the purpose, the writer loses the sense of the word "ad hoc" to imply what analytical chemistry "is not"; But, when the discipline give the theoretical tools or the empirical approach, the applications are a matter of the user not of the discipline. By trying to arbitrarily put an end to the definition via the original purpose, Physics cannot touch questions of biology, because is it about physical measure, not about cell composition. Of course that rationale is wrong, because we know biophysics exist. The same with analytical chemistry. If tomorrow someone wants to put a name to a new science, like "medical analytical chemistry" or " process analytical Chemistry", then this new application become standar in our minds and what is written in the Wikipedia's Analytical Chemistry article becomes wrong or obsolete. Even the article admits a level of practical aspect of Analytical Chemistry; The point is: Only when one discipline doesn't give the proper tools or have a total new set of definitions or do not share common conceps or take a very long or impractical theoretical approach to a particular given practical issue or technology, only then that discipline could be fairly excluded from that same practical purpose. That's not the case of Analytical Chemistry, which share same theories and concepts with Physics, Biology and Electronics, share same measurement units often and often is made with a practical purpose beforehand, like bioinformatics analytical tools, forensics, enviromental or clinical chemistry. That's why Is not long or uncommon to see the outcome of these proyects turn into a new technology. The Analytical Chemist behind them knew the practical purpose and overall picture of these proyects before doing them, this is often. You could say Computer Programming is not analytical chemistry, or why Relativity theory, or evolutionary science is not Analytical chemistry. To name the possible practical approach of analytical chemistry is another thing. Just say what Analytical Chemistry is, the diference with other science, and the terminology and approach, and let the practical aspects to the creativity of the scientist. Do not kill the tool. I'm not an Analytical Chemist by the way, this is simply my point of view. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

I am not completely certain that I fully understand but I think the discussion above on this talk page is intended to correct exactly your point of concern. That is to create a complete and self contained definition of what is analytical chemistry. What we have agreed upon thus far is "Analytical Chemistry seeks ever improved means of measuring the chemical composition of natural and artificial materials". With the important clarification that composition does not mean percent composition but rather the complete picture as to how matter is composed at the atomic/molecular level. (not composed of but composed). Your input is welcome. We had pretty much concluded our discussion and I was going to make the changes but have not gotten to it due to limited time at the moment.--Nick Y. 17:34, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
I have updated the article a bit. Definitely more work needs to be done.--Nick Y. 18:56, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

-Although analytical chemistry addresses these types of questions it stops after they are answered- This should not be in the article. That's what it meant up there...

Electroanalytical methods[edit]

Perhaps the editors here will be interested in electroanalytical methods, which needs a major cleanup. --Itub 12:31, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Navigation bar[edit]

I added a bar Template:Analytical chemistry inspired by Template:Organic chemistry and made a first pass at putting concepts in. --Kkmurray 20:07, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Proposed Infobox chemical analysis[edit]

(also posted at Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Chemistry#Proposed_Infobox_chemical_analysis) Please take a look at the Proposed Infobox chemical analysis and comment in the Proposed Infobox chemical analysis talk page. This infobox would be used on analytical chemistry technique pages (e.g. those listed in Analytical chemistry:Specific Technologies and Instrumentation. Thanks. --Kkmurray 15:21, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

Edits to top of page[edit]

I made some changes to the top of the page. I did it in way too many steps, but I think the introduction reads a lot better now, and the definion of analytical chemistry has been made broader to conform with its meaning. Handschuh-talk to me 10:31, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Hi Handschuh. I guess we are back to defining Analytical Chemistry as a "study" rather than a "science". Perhaps we can use a Schrodinger plug-in and have Analytical Chem defined as a "study" and "science" simultaneously, ala the particle/wave duality of light... --qswitch426 17:51, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
I think the difference between the two is pretty sublte. Defining anything as a science sounds rather stillted to me though. Biology is the study of life, chemistry is the study of chemical proporties, composition, reactions, etc., physics is the study of matter, energy and their interactions. That all sounds fine to me, but "biology is the science of life" doesn't sound quite right to me. Just my humble opinion. Go ahead and reword it if you think there's a better way to put it. Handschuh-talk to me 00:23, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Nah, I think it is OK the way it is. Especially when you place it with the other " the study of". As you can see from our previous discussion on this page, there is a slight distinction between "studying the composition" and "the science of measuring". One places emphasis on the results and the other places emphais on the method. But from our overall conversation, it looks like the distinction is not worth hashing over. I don't even think the American Chemical Society nor IUPAC has a firm position on the distinction. --qswitch426 02:27, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
If we want to use study it might be best to state "Analytical chemistry is the study of measuring the chemical composition of natural and artificial materials." Sounds kind of awkward to me. I prefer science.--Nick Y. (talk) 21:01, 19 November 2007 (UTC)


might help the flow. maybe after the first paragraph Emesee (talk) 19:55, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

I think that it is an article problem, not a TOC problem. The article contains too many lists and one sentence sections and this is expanding the TOC. --Kkmurray (talk) 22:27, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Neutrality Dispute - Overview Section[edit]

Statements like the following show bias (and are false) and should be removed:

1. "Analytical chemistry generally does not attempt to use chemistry or understand its basis"

2. "Although analytical chemistry addresses these types of questions it stops after they are answered. The next logical steps of understanding what it means, how it fits into a larger system, how can this result be generalized into theory or how it can be used are not analytical chemistry."

3. "limits itself to some fairly simple questions"

These false statements were most likely made by a jealous physical chemist. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:49, November 29, 2008

Remember to put the newest comments at the bottom of the page. --Kkmurray (talk) 18:21, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
There was some discussion above (under #Recent_major_revisions. If you could take those comments into consideration and propose a better wording it would be great! --Itub (talk) 12:42, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
I don't see a dispute here at all. Has there been an attempt at improving the language by talk? Nobody has expressed disagreement and certainly not to the point of there being a dispute that could not be resolved though cooperation. I move to remove the tag but continue any discussion about how these sentences could be improved in the spirit of cooperation rather than dispute..Nick Y. (talk) 16:11, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
I have made an attempt to make a more useful article through editing of this particular section. The original statements which I have quoted above are subjective and unverifiable, see: Wikipedia:Verifiability. For instance, sentence #3 "simple questions" is a subjective phrase and it doesn't really tell you anything useful. In addition sentences #1 & #2 are 1) broad generalizations and 2) simply false. I have made edits to change these sentences to make them true in the current version of this section. If no one else has a dispute with the updated section, you may remove the neutrality dispute tag. comment added by
I still don't see how there is a dispute or that someone is pushing a point of view or that there is a big problem with neutrality. I don't see the need for a tag simply over people contributing to the article with perhaps slightly different points of view. However, regarding your edits: Overall I see improvement. I don't like the use of the word "nutshell", too casual. Overall I think getting away from what anal chem is not is good. The earlier part of your edits are effective in getting away from this tendency without weakening the article. I do think that there is a slight weakening of the article in regard to the definition of scope of anal chem that has been discussed at length before. I would ask that you consider how to effectively and clearly make anal chem distinct from experimental physical chemistry in a manner acceptable to you. "formative year" could be improved to perhaps using a word like "traditionally". I would jump in and edit but I want to let you get through a complete effort to rework it to your satisfaction. I like the removal of the lead in the drinking water sentence.Nick Y. (talk) 21:42, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
I have addressed Nick Y.'s most recent comments by making more edits as he suggested. I believe I have appropriately distinguished experimental physical chemistry from analytical chemistry. One exception is to address the phrase "in a nutshell" which I believe to be formal enough, but you make make changes or suggestions to the contrary. Unless someone differs with my most recent edits, the neutrality dispute tag can removed relatively soon. comment added by
I believe the article is improved on the whole and no less complete or accurate than before, although slightly less succinct in some places. Again I see no dispute and the content is really not changed but simply improved in how it is phrased. I think the dispute tag was never needed and can certainly be removed now that the editor who placed the tag has reworded the article without objection.--Nick Y. (talk) 15:59, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
I will remove the tag. I disagree that the accuracy hasn't changed. It has improved greatly. Whoever wrote what was originally there didn't have a clue. comment added by

I don't think that the POV tag is needed since so many interested editors have the page in their watchlist. I do agree that the article needs work in POV and other areas. A few issues just from the lead section. First, no mention of separations? Or qualitative vs. quantitative? Instrumental vs. classical? And this sentence is not correct "Unlike other major sub disciplines of chemistry such as inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry, analytical chemistry is not restricted to any particular type of chemical compound or reaction." It should read "Like physical chemistry (and sometimes materials chemistry) but unlike inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry (and sometimes biochemistry), analytical chemistry is not restricted to any particular type of chemical compound or reaction," which is correct, but not very useful. Other issues are the large instrumental section (split out?), weak history section, approaches section that needs to be turned into prose, etc. If I can summon the courage, I may try to fix some of these. --Kkmurray (talk) 20:59, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

I don't think the opening paragraph is particularly well structured. First it starts out by making a sweeping statement that all of analytical chemistry is about composition. Then, perhaps in contradiction of that opening sentence, it says that analytical chemistry is also about geometric aspects of the chemical makeup. (paraphrased). Why not just find a way to broaden the first sentence? Something to the effect that analytical chemistry is a metrological science that is devoted to determining chemical level information from material systems. This information is compositional, geometrical etc.... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:30, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Improvement is good. I would note however that the fundamental issue that you express with the current paragraph appears slightly misguided. The word composition does not exclude structural or geometrical factors and is in fact integral to composition. The limits of analytical chemistry in the mid 20th century resulted in a generally more limited usage of the word. However, "Enantiomeric composition" or determining the composition of a racemic mixture is common 20th century scientific phraseology. I am not sure that your suggested phrasing is more clear as it introduces even more unnecessary verbiage. Certainly I think you may be able to find a way to improve it however but keep this in mind.--Nick Y. (talk) 19:27, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Academic resources[edit]

The subsection "Academic resources" contains internal links to analytical chemistry resources. This properly belongs in the "See also" section. If it is felt that academic resources are somehow distinct from other resources, perhaps it should be made a sub-subsection of "See also"? Cnilep (talk) 02:12, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Moved to See also. Vsmith (talk) 02:20, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

the significance of analytical chemistry[edit]

I am a student at a university of technology and i am studying analytical chemistry.Ive been reading on everyones comments then i realised how little i know about my currently on my second semester yet i find that analytical chemists are regarded as of low class to other applied science courses (like your chem-eng).preference is shown even when we apply for bursaries.This makes me wounder what is the significance of analytical chemists and where do they fit in ,in all these feilds if preference is vertually given to those students who more majour in a particular field.For example i recently went for an interview and was asked what course am i studying and was told that i stand a beter chance of of obtaining the bursary if i changed course to do chemical engineering.Now i ask what is it that analytical chemists can offer to pharmasuitical industries,mininng and all these other idustries where analysis is needed? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:13, 1 February 2010 (VUT)

Article cleanup[edit]

I'm doing some article cleanup and reorganization. Feel free to critique and/or pitch in. --Kkmurray (talk) 15:11, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm doing some more :-) In the second paragraph, instrumental method was written to appear to include only electromagnetic interactions and conductivity. I have edited it to indicate that instrumental methods include light, heat, electric field and magnetic field interactions. I think that is a proper abstraction. I will place the specific light interactions later in the chapter. Also, it appears that the classical methods stated in the second paragraph include separation but those listed in the outline do not. I think it's appropriate to add a section in the outline dealing with separation methods. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Smitjo (talkcontribs) 22:20, 27 March 2016 (UTC)

Section on Precision[edit]

I've done a little bit of work in analytical chemistry and from my experience, margins of error of 30% are quite common and acceptable in this field. The lab I was working in was an accredited lab and sometimes did work for courts of law and these margins are known in this field. I was wondering if anybody thinks it's worth mentioning. Obviously, some techniques are more precise than others, but in general, compared to other fields in science and technology, this is an area where precision is not always very high (but still quite acceptable). (talk) 00:36, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

Proposed merge with Time-resolved mass spectrometry[edit]

Page is a stub and would read better if merged into analytical chemistry. Meatsgains (talk) 01:04, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

Time-resolved mass spectrometry is a highly specialized sub-field of chemistry. However, it has applications beyond analytical chemistry. Therefore, it would be hard to merge it with the general article on analytical chemistry. I would rather suggest to expand Time-resolved mass spectrometry by adding text and citations. I will work on it in the next few weeks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Natriumchloratum (talkcontribs) 15:55, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Analytical chemistry/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

==Neutrality Dispute==

Statements like the following show bias (and are false) and should be removed:

1. "Analytical chemistry generally does not attempt to use chemistry or understand its basis"

2. "Although analytical chemistry addresses these types of questions it stops after they are answered. The next logical steps of understanding what it means, how it fits into a larger system, how can this result be generalized into theory or how it can be used are not analytical chemistry."

3. "limits itself to some fairly simple questions"

These false statements were most likely made by a jealous physical chemist.

Last edited at 17:48, 29 November 2008 (UTC). Substituted at 07:40, 29 April 2016 (UTC)