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Study of Factors Influencing Mass Spectral Data Comparison

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Competitive Discretionary
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Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $69,835)

Seized drug identification by forensic laboratories is considered a mature discipline, yet standardization of data interpretation across laboratories remains an ongoing effort. Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is a frequently used analytical technique in seized-drugs analysis, but subjective interpretation of mass spectra (MS) data can introduce variability. This study aims to understand the decision-making process of trained analysts when comparing electron impact (EI) MS data and to inform criteria and standardization for spectral data comparison. Using a survey and eye-tracking technology, we will investigate the priorities of analysts when comparing MS data, analyze whether a focus on specific spectral characteristics leads to more accurate comparisons, and identify factors affecting MS quality determination. The outcomes will aid in ensuring consistent and standardized practices across forensic laboratories and provide an empirical basis for drafting standards for MS comparison and acceptance criteria. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 26, 2023