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Measurement is the numerical quantitation of the attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other objects or events.[1][2] The scope and application of measurement are dependent on the context and discipline. In natural sciences and engineering, measurements do not apply to nominal properties of objects or events, which is consistent with the guidelines of the International vocabulary of metrology published by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures.[2] However, in other fields such as statistics as well as the social and behavioural sciences, measurements can have multiple levels, which would include nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio scales.[1][3]

Measurement is a cornerstone of trade, science, technology, and quantitative research in many disciplines. Historically, many measurement systems existed for the varied fields of human existence to facilitate comparisons in these fields. Often these were achieved by local agreements between trading partners or collaborators. Since the 18th century, developments progressed towards unifying, widely accepted standards that resulted in the modern International System of Units (SI). This system reduces all physical measurements to a mathematical combination of seven base units. The science of measurement is pursued in the field of metrology.

In the field of survey research, measures are taken from individual attitudes, values, and behavior using questionnaires as a measurement instrument. As all other measurements, measurement in survey research is also vulnerable to measurement error, i.e. the departure from the true value of the measurement and the value provided using the measurement instrument.[14] In substantive survey research, measurement error can lead to biased conclusions and wrongly estimated effects. In order to get accurate results, when measurement errors appear, the results need to be corrected for measurement errors.

Exactness designation

The following rules generally apply for displaying the exactness of measurements:[15]