Zhengwei Yang, Rendong Zhang, Xiaohong Wen, Anpei Huang


It is frequently asked that how big a sample size, or how much measurement, is needed to achieve an accuratestereological estimate. The observed total error of a stereological estimate arises from individual difference (i.e. i ter-animal / organ difference or biological variation) and intra-individual variation (or the stereological error). Statistical methods for error analysis familiar to most biological researchers are based on independent random sampling, however systematic random sampling, which is usually more efficient, is almost always performed in practice. A number of methods for error analysis were utilized in a number of model and actual studies in this paper to demonstrate from a practical point of view the pros and cons of different error analytical methods. Assumption of independence for a systematic sampling will result in overestimation of the stereological error as shown by the studies. A simple and practical approach for error analysis as recommended in this paper is to divide the systematic sample from an organ into two systematic sub-samples, regard them as two independent sub-samples and then compare the difference between the two sub-sample means.

error; independent sampling; stereology; systematic sampling; variation

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DOI: 10.5566/ias.v19.p9-13

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Image Analysis & Stereology
EISSN 1854-5165 (Electronic version)
ISSN 1580-3139 (Printed version)