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Reporting requirements to increase the reproducibility and comparability of research on microplastics



Jennifer Lynch


The ubiquitous pollution of the environment with microplastics (a diverse suite of contaminants) is of growing concern for modern environmental science and currently receives considerable public, political, and academic attention. The potential impact of microplastics in the environment has prompted a great deal of research in recent years. Thus, a large number of diverse methods have been developed to answer different questions about microplastic pollution, from sources, transport, and fate in the environment, and to effects to humans and wildlife. Still, these methods are often insufficiently described, making studies neither comparable nor reproducible. Diverse methods and styles of reporting hampers both the proliferation of new microplastic investigations and cross- study syntheses to answer larger scale questions. We (a diverse group of 24 researchers) think these can be overcome through the adoption of a set of reporting requirements. Here, we suggest harmonized reporting requirements for microplastic studies in environmental and laboratory settings, including best practices for reporting materials, quality assurance / quality control, data, field sampling, sample preparation, microplastic identification, microplastic categorization, microplastic quantification, and considerations for toxicology studies. We developed three tools that can be used to quickly reference the reporting requirements. This collaboration was created under an open science framework that we detail for future use. It is our intention that these reporting requirements guide and support the annotation, dissemination, interpretation, reviewing, and synthesis of microplastic research. We hope these tools are used to increase the validity, reproducibility, and comparability of studies in this field for the benefit of the global community.
Applied Spectroscopy


Harmonization, Standardization, Plastic, Microplastic, Metadata, Reproducibility, Open Science, Methods, Reporting Requirements, Comparability


Lynch, J. (2020), Reporting requirements to increase the reproducibility and comparability of research on microplastics, Applied Spectroscopy, [online], (Accessed May 27, 2024)


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Created May 1, 2020, Updated December 18, 2020