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SRM Definitions

Reference Material (RM) - Material, sufficiently homogeneous and stable with respect to one or more specified properties, which has been established to be fit for its intended use in a measurement process

  1. RM is a generic term.

  2. Properties can be quantitative or qualitative, e.g. identity of substances or species.

  3. Uses may include the calibration of a measurement system, assessment of a measurement procedure, assigning values to other materials, and quality control.

  4. A single RM cannot be used for both calibration and validation of results in the same measurement procedure.

  5. International Vocabulary of Metrology – Basic and General Concepts and Associated Terms has an analogous definition (VIM - ISO/IEC Guide 99:2007, 5.13), but restricts the term "measurement" to apply to quantitative values and not to qualitative properties. However, Note 3 of ISO/IEC Guide 99:2007, 5.13, specifically includes the concept of qualitative attributes, called "nominal properties".

(ISO Guide 30:1992/Amd 1:2008)

Certified Reference Material (CRM) - Reference material characterized by a metrologically valid procedure for one or more specified properties, accompanied by a certificate that provides the value of the specified property, its associated uncertainty, and a statement of metrological traceability

  1. The concept of value includes qualitative attributes such as identity or sequence. Uncertainties for such attributes may be expressed as probabilities.

  2. Metrologically valid procedures for the production and certification of reference materials are given in, among others, ISO Guides 34 and 35.

  3. ISO Guide 31 gives guidance on the contents of certificates.

  4. VIM has an analogous definition (ISO/IEC Guide 99:2007, 5.14).

(ISO Guide 30:1992/Amd 1:2008)

Reference Material Certificate - Document accompanying a certified reference material stating one or more property values and their uncertainties, and confirming that the necessary procedures have been carried out to ensure their validity and traceability. (ISO Guide 30: 1992)

NIST Standard Reference Material® (SRM) - A CRM issued by NIST that also meets additional NIST-specific certification criteria and is issued with a certificate or certificate of analysis that reports the results of its characterizations and provides information regarding the appropriate use(s) of the material (NIST SP 260-136). Note: An SRM is prepared and used for three main purposes: (1) to help develop accurate methods of analysis; (2) to calibrate measurement systems used to facilitate exchange of goods, institute quality control, determine performance characteristics, or measure a property at the state-of-the-art limit; and (3) to ensure the long-term adequacy and integrity of measurement quality assurance programs. The term "Standard Reference Material" is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

NIST Reference Material - Material issued by NIST with a report of investigation instead of a certificate to: (1) further scientific or technical research; (2) determine the efficacy of a prototype reference material; (3) provide a homogeneous and stable material so that investigators in different laboratories can be ensured that they are investigating the same material; and (4) ensure availability when a material produced and certified by an organization other than NIST is defined to be in the public interest or when an alternate means of national distribution does not exist. A NIST RM meets the ISO definition for a RM and may meet the ISO definition for a CRM (depending on the organization that produced it).

NIST Research Grade Test Material (RGTM) - A material evaluated during the SRM/RM development phase.  RGTMs may be distributed in a NIST-sponsored interlaboratory inter-comparison to determine the fit for purpose of the candidate SRM/RM material.  It is prepared to be homogeneous and stable but typically has not been quantitatively evaluated for all properties of potential interest.

NIST Traceable Reference MaterialTM(NTRMTM) - A commercially-produced reference material with a well-defined traceability linkage to existing NIST standards for chemical measurements. This traceability linkage is established via criteria and protocols defined by NIST to meet the needs of the metrological community to be served (NIST SP 260-136). Reference materials producers adhering to these requirements are allowed use of the NTRM trademark. A NIST NTRM may be recognized by a regulatory authority as being equivalent to a CRM .

NIST Certified Value - A value reported on an SRM certificate or certificate of analysis for which NIST has the highest confidence in its accuracy in that all known or suspected sources of bias have been fully investigated or accounted for by NIST. (NIST SP 260-136)

NIST Reference Value - A best estimate of the true value provided on a NIST certificate, certificate of analysis, or report of investigation where all known or suspected sources of bias have not been fully investigated by NIST. (NIST SP 260-136)

NIST SRM Certificate or Certificate of Analysis - In accordance with ISO Guide 31: 2000, a NIST SRM certificate is a document containing the name, description, and intended purpose of the material, the logo of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the name of NIST as a certifying body, instructions for proper use and storage of the material, certified property value(s) with associated uncertainty(ies), method(s) used to obtain property values, the period of validity, if appropriate, and any other technical information deemed necessary for its proper use. A Certificate is issued for an SRM certified for one or more specific physical or engineering performance properties and may contain NIST reference, information, or both values in addition to certified values. A Certificate of Analysis is issued for an SRM certified for one or more specific chemical properties. Note: ISO Guide 31 is updated periodically; check with ISO for the latest version.

NIST Certificate of Traceability - Document stating the purpose, protocols, and measurement pathways that support claims by an NTRM to specific NIST standards or stated references. No NIST certified values are provided, but rather the document references a specific NIST report of analysis, bears the logo of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the name of NIST as a certifying body, and the name and title of the NIST officer authorized to accept responsibility for its contents.

NIST RM Report of Investigation - Document issued with a NIST RM that contains all the technical information necessary for proper use of the material, the logo of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the name and title of the NIST officer authorized to issue it. There are no NIST certified values provided, and authorship of a report's contents may be by an organization other than NIST.

NIST Report of Analysis (ROA) - Document containing the certification of the material and including such information as the base material used, how the SRM was manufactured, the certification method(s) and description of procedures, outside collaborators, instructions for use, special instructions for packaging, handling, and storage, and plan for stability testing. The ROA is intended for internal NIST use only

Status - SRM/RMs can have one the following status values:

Available: Material is available for purchase.
Out of Stock: Item is not available at this time. You have been placed on the notification list, without committing you to a purchase. You will be notified about changes in the status of this item. (This status used to be known as "Long-Term Backorder").
Discontinued: This product is no longer being produced
Replaced by: This product has been replaced by the indicated SRM.


Created August 11, 2010, Updated January 12, 2023