Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title



Springer New York LLC


School of Science




Broadhurst, D., Goodacre, R., Reinke, S. N., Kuligowski, J., Wilson, I. D., Lewis, M. R., & Dunn, W. B. (2018). Guidelines and considerations for the use of system suitability and quality control samples in mass spectrometry assays applied in untargeted clinical metabolomic studies. Metabolomics, 14(6), 72. Available here



Quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) are two quality management processes that are integral to the success of metabolomics including their application for the acquisition of high quality data in any high-throughput analytical chemistry laboratory. QA defines all the planned and systematic activities implemented before samples are collected, to provide confidence that a subsequent analytical process will fulfil predetermined requirements for quality. QC can be defined as the operational techniques and activities used to measure and report these quality requirements after data acquisition.

Aim of review

This tutorial review will guide the reader through the use of system suitability and QC samples, why these samples should be applied and how the quality of data can be reported.

Key scientific concepts of review

System suitability samples are applied to assess the operation and lack of contamination of the analytical platform prior to sample analysis. Isotopically-labelled internal standards are applied to assess system stability for each sample analysed. Pooled QC samples are applied to condition the analytical platform, perform intra-study reproducibility measurements (QC) and to correct mathematically for systematic errors. Standard reference materials and long-term reference QC samples are applied for inter-study and inter-laboratory assessment of data.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.