Standardization News

ASTM's Technical Information Resource

Cicely Enright

All of ASTM International's standards, papers and chapters, and books can be found, searched and subscribed to in one resource, ASTM CompassTM.

A researcher investigates a new asphalt additive and tests with a standard from Committee C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates.

An engineering librarian recommends a group of standards for mechanical engineering students designing a protective cover for high-end bicycles.

And, with technical information in Selected Technical Papers, a professor builds on existing protective clothing research in her own studies.

Researchers, professors and others are able to access technical information through ASTM CompassTM. Compass enables users to tailor their subscription to just the information they need, which can include ASTM's 12,000+ standards, 60,000+ papers and chapters, and 1,400 books.

"One of the components of our university having top-notch electronic holdings is having ASTM standards and the digital library online," says Randy Reichardt, who is the research services librarian (engineering) in the Science and Technology Library, University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. "My clients in mechanical, chemical and materials engineering over the years indicate that they consider ASTM standards and the digital library critical for their research."

Content and Access

ASTM International's technical content covers diverse engineering areas, from aerospace to solar and chemical to civil. Plus, standards, peer-reviewed papers and books relevant to numerous industries - construction and consumer products, metals and petroleum, nanotechnology and sustainability, and many more. Access to this content is easier and more user-friendly than ever before through ASTM Compass.

"The immediacy of the access is key," says Mary Strife, director of the Evansdale Library at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. "I think the interface is easy to use and that it is easy for my users to get what they need quickly."

Added to easy access is easy searching via a detailed taxonomy that helps users make detailed refinements to their searches.

"One of the most valuable features is the ability to cross-search every publication ever published by ASTM," says Sharon Siegler, engineering librarian at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "This enables you to find similar papers in places you may not have anticipated."

To illustrate this point, take a search on paint brushes, just a bit of the spectrum of the work of Committee D01 on Paint and Related Coatings, Materials and Applications. The search turns up standards for terminology, measuring curl, evaluating paint film application and other standards as well as additional technical information. Both the most recent Paint and Coating Testing Manual: 15th Edition of the Gardner-Sward Handbook, and earlier editions come up in results. Individual symposia papers and Selected Technical Papers as well as research reports, can also be found. And the search can be narrowed to desired areas through the search result categories and subcategories indicating how many documents exist in a specific topic area.

The Digital Library is all about the content, current and historical. "ASTM technical content is important to our users because it contains information, research, and methodology often directly relevant to their research and study," says Reichardt.

How Users Leverage the Collection

At the University of Alberta, the content aids the work of students who major in clothing, textiles and material culture, which requires that they take "Quality Assurance for Textiles and Apparel," a course that adds to their exposure to standards. Several textile tests used - both Canadian and ASTM - in the course enable students to understand the methods' role in good fabric. To evaluate the abrasion resistance of an upholstery fabric, for example, students use D3884, Guide for Abrasion Resistance of Textile Fabrics (Rotary Platform, Double-Head Method), a procedure for mechanically rubbing a sample and noting the results.

The ASTM standard covers the procedure and its use in detail. "ASTM standards are very comprehensive," says Jane Batcheller, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta. "We go to them a lot."

In the civil engineering work of Yu-Min Su, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow and researcher at National Central University in Chungli, Taiwan, ASTM International standards are ready aids for his investigations. Su says he uses civil materials testing standards that address properties such as specific gravity and strength in aggregates, concrete, and asphalt binders and mixtures. "When laboratory work is involved, I follow the testing procedures step by step," he says.

Su says that C78, Test Method for Flexural Strength of Concrete (Using Simple Beam with Third-Point Loading), commonly used to design rigid pavements, is a standard that he often uses. C469, Test Method for Static Modulus of Elasticity and Poisson's Ratio of Concrete in Compression, a standard to test concrete properties when the material contains reclaimed asphalt pavement is another, and that's the topic of a paper he has co-authored for ASTM's Journal of Testing and Evaluation.

For Intertek, a global firm that uses ASTM standards in testing services, electronic availability simplifies keeping labs and personnel up to date. "The online standards access is very important to Intertek," says Amy Meacock, quality, HSE and compliance manager – Americas, for Intertek Commodities, a global firm that uses ASTM standards in its testing. "We no longer have to worry about making sure all the different [Intertek] locations have obtained the most current version of the test methods."

Meacock says that version comparison, which highlights revisions to a standard, is also critical for her company's testing. "It's very simple to tell what's different, what has been changed. We use it quite frequently." And for training, according to Meacock, the videos of ASTM petroleum tests help technicians in visualizing the procedure that they are following.

Journals and Papers

Through the ASTM International journals and Selected Technical Papers in the Digital Library, papers and chapters present insight into technology and developments in numerous industries. The product of symposia, workshops and independent research, these papers go through a rigorous peer review before publication.

"The diversification of writers is a big strength. These are more than just academicians; these are experts working in industry, with years of experience," says Siegler.

"Many of our conferences and symposia are major conferences worldwide," says George Totten, Ph.D., president of G.E. Totten and Associates LLC, Seattle, Washington, and co-editor of the ASTM journal Materials Performance and Characterization. "These are the primary publications for a particular area. The fatigue and fracture and nuclear industries are a prime example."

Accepted symposia papers, subject to single blind peer review - the author and reviewers do not know who the others are - are collected into publications that can be the primary publication for an industry in a particular year, according to Totten.

Or papers may be submitted to ASTM technical journals, which include the longer-running Journal of Testing and Evaluation and Geotechnical Testing Journal, plus new online journals Advances in Civil Engineering Materials and Materials Performance and Characterization (see ASTM Technical Journals in the May/June issue of ASTM Standardization News.

"ASTM STPs have long been the source of technical information for many researchers and practitioners alike," says M.R. Mitchell, Ph.D., president of Mechanics and Materials Consulting, Flagstaff, Arizona, and a veteran ASTM International member, who is JOTE editor in chief. "This is particularly true in committees such as E08 on Fatigue and Fracture, for which you can find STPs are used as readily available reference texts by engineers and researchers."

Not just the current papers are significant, Totten adds. He gives the example of a student assigned a project that included some history of thermal analysis. Through ASTM International's online technical content, historic reference material is available. "They are still important, classic papers explaining what the current technology was based on," Totten says.

Batcheller also cites the usefulness of several works available through the Digital Library that cover research in protective clothing and equipment. Work at the Protective Clothing and Equipment Research Facility, the only Canadian lab with a full-scale manikin flash fire test system, is located at the University of Alberta, and it uses ASTM methods. One of these is F1930, Test Method for Evaluation of Flame Resistant Clothing for Protection Against Fire Simulations Using an Instrumented Manikin, which measures thermal protection provided by different materials and garments. Research results have been reported in, among other volumes in the series, STP 1544 and STP 1462 both on performance of protective clothing and equipment. Batcheller says this research is very specialized: "there are not a lot of places to find it." So having the volumes, and access to them, is useful for reference.

Learn More

All of ASTM's content is available for purchase individually via the ASTM International website at or through a subscription to ASTM Compass, which is designed to meet organizational needs.

For further details, contact ASTM Sales (phone: 877-909-ASTM).

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