Over the past three decades, the widespread utility and applicability of x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) in research and applications has made it the most popular and widely used method of surface analysis. Associated with this increased use has been an increase in the number of new or inexperienced users, which has led to erroneous uses and misapplications of the method. This article is the first in a series of guides assembled by a committee of experienced XPS practitioners that are intended to assist inexperienced users by providing information about good practices in the use of XPS. This first guide outlines steps appropriate for determining whether XPS is capable of obtaining the desired information, identifies issues relevant to planning, conducting, and reporting an XPS measurement, and identifies sources of practical information for conducting XPS measurements. Many of the topics and questions addressed in this article also apply to other surface-analysis techniques.

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