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Syracuse University Libraries


This guide helps you acquire and use standards commonly referred to as Technical, Industry, or Engineering.

Standards Available From the Syracuse University Libraries

The Syracuse University Libraries Libraries owns a very limited number of standards in print and has access to ASTM Standards and ASHRAE Standards online. There are also individual standards available online through TechStreet. Check here for your standard or search the library catalog for your standard in print. If not available, please contact your Subject Librarian to request standards for purchase.

What are Standards?

Standards are documented agreements that specify the characteristics, performance, and production methods for products, services, or systems. Developed by voluntary consensus organizations, these standards aim to ensure interoperability, safety, quality, and fair competition in various industries. They typically encompass:

  • Product standards: define features and performance requirements.
  • Process standards: specify production and delivery methods.

By providing a common language and set of expectations, technical standards benefit various stakeholders, including:

  • Manufacturers: reduce costs, gain market access.
  • Consumers: enjoy safer, compatible, and higher-quality products.
  • Regulators: ensure adherence to safety and performance requirements.

Examples include electrical safety, telecommunications, food safety, and medical device standards.

How are Standards Made Available?

Standards can be made available in several ways, depending on the specific standard and the organization that developed it:

Publicly available:

  • Websites of standards organizations
  • Government websites
  • Open access databases 

Paid access:

  • Standards development organizations.
  • Commercial databases (Techstreet).

Restricted access:

  • Private standards.
  • Government standards – some gov standards might be restricted.

Additional factors affecting availability:

  • Language: Not all languages are offered for every standard.

Why are Standards Important?

Industry standards play a crucial role in various aspects of different fields, offering a multitude of benefits for both businesses and consumers. Here are some key reasons why industry standards are important:

1. Compatibility and Interoperability: Standards ensure that products and services from different companies can work together seamlessly. This is particularly important in sectors like technology, where components and software need to interact smoothly. For example, standardized electrical outlets allow you to use any brand of appliance without needing special adapters.

2. Quality and Safety: Industry standards often establish benchmarks for quality and safety, minimizing risks and ensuring products meet specific performance criteria. This is crucial in areas like construction, where faulty materials or practices could have serious consequences. For instance, building codes mandate specific safety measures to ensure structural integrity and fire safety.

3. Fair Competition and Market Efficiency: Standards create a level playing field for businesses by setting common expectations for all participants. This fosters fair competition and reduces the risk of unfair advantages based on proprietary methods that might not be as safe or effective. Additionally, standardized practices can streamline processes and communication, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings across the industry.

4. Innovation and Consumer Confidence: Industry standards can act as a springboard for innovation by providing a common base upon which companies can build and improve. This fosters healthy competition and encourages companies to develop new and better solutions within the established framework. Additionally, adherence to standards can instill consumer confidence in the products and services they purchase, knowing they meet certain quality and safety benchmarks.

Overall, industry standards play a vital role in promoting smooth operation, ensuring safety, fostering fair competition, and driving innovation within various industries. They benefit both businesses, by creating a stable and efficient operational environment, and consumers, by providing them with reliable and safe products and services.

How are Standards Used?

Key Points to Consider

1. Voluntary vs. Mandatory:

  • Voluntary standards: These are guidelines or recommendations that organizations can choose to follow at their own discretion. They offer flexibility but might not guarantee consistent results across different implementations.
  • Mandatory standards: These are legally enforceable requirements that organizations must comply with. They ensure consistency and safety but can limit innovation and flexibility.

2. Updates:

  • Frequency of updates: Consider how often the standard is reviewed and revised. Frequent updates can ensure it stays current with technology and best practices, but frequent changes might require ongoing adjustments and learning.
  • Staying informed: Determine how you'll stay updated on changes to the standard. This might involve subscribing to updates from the standards development organization or joining relevant communities.

3. Copyright:

  • Copyright ownership: Understand who owns the copyright of the standard. This information is crucial for determining how freely you can use, distribute, or modify the content. Some standards might be freely available, while others might require permission or payment for specific uses.
  • Licensing: If the standard is copyrighted, be aware of any licensing terms associated with its use. This will outline restrictions and permissions regarding copying, sharing, or modifying the content.