Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Standards: What are they and how do I get them?

Generally standards are considered to be shorthand manuals that claim guidance on 'doing things' or 'making things'. Although the use of a standard is not legally imposed, manufacturers are encouraged to adhere to common methods or specifications to establish agreed norms between all interested parties (producers, distributors and consumers).

Consensus standards (those representing current best practice) are usually divided into three geographical levels and adopted by the equivalent official standardisation body (national - ASTM*, BS, DIN** etc, regional - EN and international - ISO). It is possible for a standard to be accepted on more than one geographical level and it is common to find standards agreed by the British Standards Institute (BS), the European Committee for Standardisation (EN) and the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO). In these cases standards are referred to as follows: BS EN ISO (standard number) (year).

When working to standards it is extremely important to check that the current edition is being referred to as many are revised, reviewed and withdrawn. This can be done by referring back to the standardisation organisation and checking its status.

To access British Standards from MUSE:

From MUSE select the 'Library' tab and 'access the Library's subject databases' to find an alphabetical list of all the literature databases subscribed to by the university. Here you'll need to select the British Standards Online link:

British Standards Online

and click the 'Connect to British Standards online' quick link on the right.

From here you must select the BSOL Subscribers link to access material free of charge, otherwise you may be prompted for payment:

BSOL Subscribers Link

This link will direct you to a standard search form with the option to search either standard numbers or keywords. You must always select to search from the 'full BSI catalogue' as no data is stored within the 'my subscriptions' section of the database.

On your results page you'll notice a 'View document' button. Here you can download the document straight to your computer as a PDF. Alternatively click the standard's title to retrieve the full bibliographic details, where you'll be able to find out what the standard has been replaced by should its status be withdrawn. There is also a 'View document' button at the top of this page for quick access to the PDF.

Should you need any further help accessing standards feel free to contact either myself or Carmen O'Dell.

* American Society for Testing and Materials
** Deutsches Institut fur Normung

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