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Magazines & Newsletters / ASTM Standardization News


July/August 2008

Your ASTM Toolbox

Enhancing Standards Development On- and Off-Line

Starting the standards development process? From the ASTM Web site itself and members’ links through “MyASTM,” which include customized lists of drafts and revisions in “MyWorkItems” and individualized ballots, resources available online (and off) can help you with standards development.

"Guidance for Writing and Balloting Standards" (a link from "Technical Committees" on the ASTM home page) presents a broad perspective on the process with an overview and zeroes in with specific direction for each step, from the moment you register a new draft standard or its revision as a work item, to consultation available with a standards development editor, to electronic ballot item submittal. Links take you to:

  • Templates that delineate both required and optional sections for each type of standard;
  • Form and Style for ASTM Standards or “Blue Book,” the society’s textbook on shaping a standard;
  • A publicity request form to get the word out and request participation, and
  • More documents related to committee activities.

Recent enhancements to the Terminology Dictionary, virtual meetings and the Interlaboratory Study Program further help committee members focus more on the heart of the matter: developing or revising a test method, specification, practice, guide or classification.
The online members-only Terminology Dictionary, launched in 2007 and updated quarterly, now contains more than 76,000 terms, up from its original 30,000 entries collected from ASTM terminology standards. That’s a great deal of technical assistance for drafting or revising standards.

The dictionary search options now also provide the capability to search for keywords as terms or as definitions plus the ability to sort results further by standard or committee. When logged on through “MyASTM,” members can access the dictionary in their “My Tools” box.

Virtual meetings, which expedite standards development progress between regular committee meetings, have become even easier with new technology. ASTM staff can schedule your online meetings and assist you with learning how the system works; contact your staff manager for assistance and recommendation on lead times for online meetings or contact Karen Wilson (phone: 610-832-9743) for scheduling. Once the meeting is scheduled, invitations detailing virtual meeting information, with dial-in number and the Web address, are delivered via e-mail. Committee officers interested in a short session about making use of this technology should contact Daniel Schultz (phone: 610-832-9716) to inquire about the upcoming schedule.

And for task groups developing standard test methods, which number about half of ASTM International’s 12,000 standards, there is the sometimes daunting prospect of preparing the required precision and bias statement, which is also a strength of these documents. That’s why ASTM created the Interlaboratory Study Program, and its seemingly simple purpose — to support the development of precision statements that help users know how test methods can be expected to perform. ILS encompasses many capabilities to ensure that members have needed assistance at any point in an interlaboratory study.

No detail, from recruiting labs and coordinating sample shipping to providing financial support and crunching test result numbers, is too small for the ILS staff to handle, and they have recently ramped up help for repeatability studies and statements, which can be used for up to five years in standard methods while full precision and bias statements are being developed. “Interlaboratory Study,” another link in the “My Tools” box, takes you to information about ILS support. For additional detail, contact ILS Program Director Phillip Godorov (phone: 610-832-9715).

There’s more to come in the ongoing dedication to streamlining ASTM International standards development, such as the online collaborative work item space now under construction that will further facilitate draft and revision development. Future SN issues will carry news of these innovations.