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Searching for Industry Standards: Access

Accessing Standards in an Academic Environment

Accessing standards is sometimes not a trivial matter in an academic environment.  Because of the very broad areas of interest and frequent revisions to standards, the institution may not be able to have current standards in all areas of research on hand.  Some standards bodies provide their collection of standards for free or for education-friendly pricing.  Others do not.  The following recommendations will help you get access to the best available standards.

Sources of Standards

Library Subscriptions and Open Access Standards

Some standards bodies offer their standards free to the public.  Others offer access to extensive collections of their standards via subscription.  Check first if your standard is available in this way.  Some of these collections available to BYU students and faculty are as follows: 

The search engines above generally allow you to filter the results by what you have free access to (see sidebar filters on the left of the results page).  The BYU Library has also purchased some hard copy standards or standards collections (see Identify Tab above).

Finding "similar" Standards

If the standard you have identified is not available in these ways, there may still be relevant standards in the readily available collections.  Use the techniques described in the Identify Tab to find standards with similar ICS classifications, etc. Keep in mind that standards produced by the varied standards organizations may have some overlap in their content areas, but they don't typically provide "equivalent" alternatives. 

Standards Collections from Government Sources

Standards created by the US Government or other open societies are generally available to the public.  Search the government aggregators found on the Identify Tab to find relevant government standards.

Standards Incorporated by Reference

Commercially-offered standards that have been incorporated into the US Code of Regulations are required by law to be made available to the public without cost.  The public is typically given read-only access, without the ability to print the standards.  ANSI has created a helpful portal for searching for these standards.  Unfortunately the list of this type of standard is not extensive.

Other Ways to Access Standards

  • University Outreach Program. Certain commercially-offered standards may be available for educational use through University Outreach programs.  These are only offered in connection with university classes that focus course objectives on a particular standard or set of standards.
  • Interlibrary Loan.  Because of licensing agreements to the contrary, most standards are not available through interlibrary loan.  However, since we are using a broad definition of "standard," which includes a variety of document types, it does not hurt to ask if a particular document can be loaned from another library.

Standards Purchased from Standards Organizations

If the above methods do not provide access to the standard(s) you need, see your librarian to see if a standard can be purchased. Because of the expense and short life of standards, it is often not sustainable for the university to procure a large collection of standards; however, those standards that are critical to research programs and/or those that will see repeated use will be considered for purchase.

Hierarchy of Access Options

Finding Information About a Specific Standard

Sometimes supplementary information can be found for a specific standard.  Such supplementary material can include training or other explanatory materials.  A Google search for the standard number will sometimes find such materials.