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Learning to Use the International Vocabulary of Measurement Science When Cross-examining Government Scientists About Forensic Measurement

Excerpts from VIM 2012 "Introduction"

The present Vocabulary pertains to metrology, the “science of measurement and its application”.

In this Vocabulary, it is taken for granted that there is no fundamental difference in the basic principles of measurement in physics, chemistry, laboratory medicine, biology, or engineering. Furthermore, an attempt has been made to meet conceptual needs of measurement in fields such as biochemistry, food science, forensic science, and molecular biology.

Excerpts from VIM 2012 "Scope"

In this Vocabulary, a set of definitions and associated terms is given, in English and French, for a system of basic and general concepts used in metrology, together with concept diagrams to demonstrate their relations. Additional information is given in the form of examples and notes under many definitions.


This Vocabulary is meant to be a common reference for scientists and engineers — including physicists, chemists, medical scientists — as well as for both teachers and practitioners involved in planning or performing measurements, irrespective of the level of measurement uncertainty and irrespective of the field of application. It is also meant to be a reference for governmental and inter- governmental bodies, trade associations, accreditation bodies, regulators, and professional societies.


Concepts used in different approaches to describing measurement are presented together. The member organizations of the JCGM can select the concepts and definitions in accordance with their respective terminologies. Nevertheless, this Vocabulary is intended to promote global harmonization of terminology used in metrology.

Excerpts from VIML 2013 "Scope":

The set of terms and definitions in this vocabulary is related to various aspects of legal metrology which are dealt with in OIML publications. However, this vocabulary was developed to be compatible with fundamental

metrological publications, first of all the International vocabulary

of metrology – Basic and general concepts and associated terms (VIM), so it can be used not only within the

OIML. This vocabulary is meant as a reference for metrologists as well as for other specialists

involved in various activities pertaining to legal metrology - from measurement and legal

metrological control to legislation. It can also be a reference for governmental and intergovernmental bodies, trade associations, manufacturers of measuring instruments and users of metrological services. It is intended to contribute to the global harmonization of the terminology used in (legal) metrology.

Excerpt from OIML D 1 2012 at 2.5 "What is Legal Metrology?"

Legal metrology is the practice and the process of applying regulatory structure and enforcement to

metrology. It comprises all activities for which legal requirements are prescribed on measurement,

units of measurement, measuring instruments or systems and methods of measurement, these activities

being performed by or on behalf of governmental authorities, in order to ensure an appropriate

level of confidence in measurement results in the national regulatory environment. Legal metrology makes use

of all developments in metrology to obtain appropriate references and traceability, and may apply to

any quantity addressed by metrology.

Legal metrology applies not only to trading parties, but also to the protection of individuals and

society as a whole (e.g. law enforcement, health and safety measurements). Public authorities must pay special attention to measurement results and will need to rely on these results, especially

when there are conflicting interests in measurement results, thus necessitating the intervention of an

impartial referee. Legal metrology is in particular necessary when forces on the market are not

organized and/or competent enough or are unbalanced. Legal metrology generally includes provisions

related to units of measurement, to measurement results (e.g. prepackages) and to measuring

instruments and systems. These provisions cover the legal obligations related to the measurement results and the measuring instruments, as well as the legal control which is performed by or on behalf

of the government.

Excerpt from OIML D 1 2012 at 2.6 "Why is a Metrological Infrastructure Necessary""

Correct and traceable material measures and measuring instruments can be used for a variety of

measurement tasks. Those corresponding to reasons of public interest, public health, safety and order,

protection of the environment and the consumer, of levying taxes and duties and of fair trading, which

directly and indirectly affect the daily life of citizens in many ways, may require the use of legally

controlled measuring instruments.

Excerpt from OIML D 1 2012 at 2.7 "What is the role of the government?"

The role of the government in metrology is to provide society with the necessary means to establish

confidence in measurement results.

This requires government to undertake a number of necessary activities to promote metrology, to

develop appropriate infrastructures, to support research in metrology and to protect both individuals

and companies against possible abuse related to measurements. It must be organized in a

comprehensive and coherent policy, for which a Law on Metrology is advisable.

Considerations on metrology in this Document are not limited to the traditional issues of legal

metrology. The importance of metrology for social and economic development calls for a

comprehensive and coherent policy on metrology for which laws must take account of all the issues

concerning consumers, enterprises, education, health, safety and the security of the population.

In setting up the national measurement system, governments should ensure that adequate transparency

exists such that all parties are able to make informed decisions.

Excerpts from OIML R 126 2012 "Scope"

This Recommendation applies to quantitative breath alcohol analyzers that render a measurement

result of alcohol concentration in exhaled human breath for the purpose of establishing compliance

with national policy for fighting against alcohol abuse.

These types of quantitative breath alcohol analyzers are referred to by some national authorities as

“evidential” breath alcohol analyzers and serve to provide the principal means by which a definitive

alcohol measurement is obtained.

These devices are not to be confused with those that provide a preliminary result, or do not

quantitatively indicate a measurement result (i.e. pass/fail devices), or which do not provide a

sufficiently accurate result to definitively establish a breath alcohol concentration (often referred to as

breath alcohol “screening” devices).

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