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Static Fire Stories Articles & Technical Papers Current News
COMMENTS ON PREPARATION OF 'STANDARDS' IN ELECTROSTATICS

By John Chubb
John Chubb Instrumentation (jchubb@jci.co.uk)
27 July, 2003

Over the years I have had some involvement with the drafting of Standards documents on electrostatic measurements. I have found this quite a frustrating and, mostly, an apparently fruitless activity. There are several points about the preparation of Standards that I feel need to be brought into public discussion, and I offer the following comments for starters:

1. The objectives for Standards are set and documents prepared solely by people on national committees. The first most people outside know about a standard is when it is published.

2. Discussions do not involve anyone outside the committee - no expert witnesses are called.

3. Comments are made to encourage people to 'get involved' - however, to be other than an observer one has to 'represent' some organisation.

4. Standards documents are not 'peer reviewed' by anyone outside the committee system.

5. If one has results of studies one feels likely to be relevant to standards discussions, no notice is taken of these internationally unless these are made via one's national committee. (Where I have been involved with particular documents my attempts to encourage discussion and progress by sending documents to people involved has yielded no response - a blank!).

6. Standards continue in existence well after they have been shown to be inappropriate and/or inadequate (e.g. FTS 101C Method 4046). There are numerous methods for measuring 'resistivity', surely not all really relevant? Keeping old Standards alive seems to serve the main aim of enabling people to say their products comply to Standard… This sounds good, but may not reflect best present appreciation of requirements, adds confusion and probably only serves the interests of the supplier - not the user!

7. Standards usually only include reference to other Standards. Why should not relevant technical papers be referenced?

8. There is no route of appeal. However strong a technical objection may be there is no route for anyone outside the committee system to lodge an appeal or register an objection.

9. There is no funding to promote the investigation and testing of Standards. It is all done on a voluntary basis. This means that work is done by people with a vested interest (and relevant equipment/instrumentation) so results are then viewed with scepticism because 'they would say that wouldn't they'!

I suggest that:

a- The objectives of work towards a new standard should be published before the start of discussions and document drafting. Publication should be on the standards organisation Website as well as in relevant professional journals and to relevant professional organisations. Comments and suggestions should be invited and these should form part of the drafting brief.

b- When a draft document has been prepared this should be published for comment in the same way as the 'objectives'.

c- When the Standard document has been finalised this should be made available for at least professional peer review within a strict time limit - say 6 months.

d- A Standard should note or refer to how it was validated. This will be helped by a clear statement of philosophy in the introductory sections.

e- There needs to be Government funding support for the development and testing of Standards.

By opening up the process of Standards preparation there will be greater interest and involvement in the development of Standards and greater understanding and acceptance of their purpose.

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