The efficiency of conversion of precursor ions to observable products for electron detachment dissociation (EDD) was measured as a function of the key experimental parameters to determine their optimal values for the Fourier transform mass spectrometry analysis of anionic glycosaminoglycan carbohydrates. These parameters include electron current, electron energy, dispenser cathode heater current, electron beam duration, charge state of the precursor ion, oligomer length, and precursor ion number accumulated in an external radio frequency multipole trap. Precursor conversion is most efficient at an electron current of 15 µA, and decreases at higher and lower values. The conversion of precursor to product ions increases in efficiency as the electron pulse duration is increased. Together, these data suggest that a radially repulsive electric field is produced between the electron beam and negative ions during EDD which causes the reaction cross section to decrease at higher values of electron current (>15 µA). Elevating the heater current of the dispenser cathode increases the electron flux, but also causes ion activation, presumably by blackbody infrared irradiation. An electronic circuit is described that allows the electron current produced by the dispenser cathode to be measured during an EDD or electron capture dissociation (ECD) experiment.