Comparing methods of measurement: why plotting difference against standard method is misleading

Lancet. 1995 Oct 21;346(8982):1085-7. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(95)91748-9.


When comparing a new method of measurement with a standard method, one of the things we want to know is whether the difference between the measurements by the two methods is related to the magnitude of the measurement. A plot of the difference against the standard measurement is sometimes suggested, but this will always appear to show a relation between difference and magnitude when there is none. A plot of the difference against the average of the standard and new measurements is unlikely to mislead in this way. We show this theoretically and by a practical example.

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Humans
  • Reference Standards
  • Reference Values
  • Statistics as Topic*
  • Weights and Measures*