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Standards, codes, methods, and protocols: Standards

An overview of the standards available at Stanford

What is a standard?

The International Standards Organization states that "A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose."

There are other types of documents that are similar to standards.

  • Codes are generally types of standards or other similar documents which are bound by the force of law. These must be followed if you work on a project that requires them.
  • Methods are testing procedures which will produce a result. These are designed to be reproducible and unambiguous.
  • Protocols are procedural methods for either an experiment or an institution of a kind. These are designed to ensure consistent results for the method, whether it is for a hospital or a manufacturing plant.
  • Specifications are an explicit set of requirements for some thing. These are often used in contract procurement as a request for an exact thing.

One note! Standards are often issued by more than one Standards Document Organization (SDO). It may be possible for you to find a standard for one organization in another place.

Find standards

Many standards are listed in SearchWorks, our online library catalog. To find standards, search in SearchWorks for the name of the standard issuing organization (e.g. ASTM, ISO) or the individual standards title. Please note, some standards are grouped together under the issuing organization, so you won't find them by title.

Additional resources from ANSI

Instructors interested in getting copies of ISO Standards for use in the classroom can obtain copies for students via the ANSI University Outreach Program. For information and request forms please contact Engineering Librarian Zac Painter.

The ANSI Incorporated by Reference Service is a platform which provides access to certain standards and codes where they are required by US law. If you do not see the standard you want in our holdings, you may want to check this service to see if it is there.