English translation: starting or initial conditions
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A purely numerical result from Google has to be taken with a very large pinch of salt - I did the same test as Jon and got different numbers - 105 hits for "starting" and something over 1000 for "initial".
The question is not one of how many but of the quality of the answers. If the answers come from non-native sources, then what is their value? Secondly, if the same non-native reference is repeated "n" times as frequently happens in ANY search engine because of the way they work, does that make it "n" times more correct than a single occurrence of a native source as an exponent of good English?
It is evident from a (brief) study of the actual references in Google, that although to a me as a native-speaker layman "initial" sounds better and more natural (and here I agree with Jon), there are eminent native-speakers in the organic chemistry world who do use "starting", such as references from Georgetown.edu and Berkeley.edu in the US, AEAT.co.uk in the UK, while a reference from MIT gives "initial", supported by many others who deserve respect.
Here you have either to phone an inorganic chemist friend, or just take your pick, and probably go for what sounds nicer in the context of the rest of the sentence, because there is sufficient authority for either. That said, I'd still go for "initial"!!