1. Setting up and organization of TWAs
  2. Design and operation of intercomparisons

Draft Best Practices Guide for VAMAS Technical Activities

A continuing goal of VAMAS is to share ideas about successful practices for the organization of the VAMAS technical committees or Technical Working Areas (TWAs) and the design and conduct of round robin intercomparisons. The following ideas represent a compilation of views expressed by several TWA chairs based on their experiences. These ideas do not represent an all-inclusive list but could form the basis for developing an internal VAMAS "best practices guide". Comments and suggestions for additions and/or revisions are welcome and encouraged and should be sent to the VAMAS Secretariat.

1. Setting up and organization of TWAs

  • It is important when setting up a TWA to keep the objectives of VAMAS in mind. There must be an industrial need, and proposers should involve industry at the outset to establish their "real" needs.
  • Regular feedback from industry is beneficial in assisting with determining priorities and the output should be rapidly disseminated to industrial users, who have not been actively involved, by their inclusion on the mailing list as "observers".
  • Good communication is essential between collaborators. This can be achieved through the web or by e-mail. Continual dissemination of information (particularly through the web) should help draw in new "participants" and "observers".
  • To maintain momentum, progress meetings should be held at least once a year with adequate time for discussion, minutes issued and actions identified. Distinct progress needs to be demonstrated between meetings. It is probably counter productive to hold meetings too frequently.
  • For large projects it may be appropriate to form sub-task groups with leaders.
  • It may be beneficial in some cases to adopt a shorter term and less generic approach on the scope of TWA subject areas to encourage "new initiatives" and "new blood" and instill a more dynamic structure for VAMAS. TWAs may be set up to tackle perhaps only one project and then disband on conclusion of the activity. This approach could run alongside TWAs with a more generic remit but the latter should be subject to regular review to ensure that momentum is being maintained.

2. Design and operation of intercomparisons

  • Ensure that there is a well defined and focused objective.
  • A route for the output into a Standards Development Organization (SDO) for the final document should be identified as early as possible.
  • It is helpful to prepare a framework at an early stage of the final document it is intended to produce. This framework can then be reviewed and updated as the activity progresses.
  • Run a smaller exercise initially with a limited number of participants.
  • Keep the work expected from each participant down to a maximum of about one man week.
  • Ensure as far as possible that the material used is consistent and uniform.
  • Give the participants extra material to allow for trials and errors.
  • Ensure that the instructions are written simply and clearly.
  • Do not add too many "interesting" side issues.
  • Start with no fewer than 6-8 participants to allow for a number who will not respond.
  • Make it clear that you will adhere to deadlines for submission of data.
  • Expect that the analysis will probably have to cover issues not originally anticipated.
  • Reports and data release should be made in a timely fashion.
  • All participants should have the opportunity to review and correct a draft version of a final report.
  • Consult a statistician if there is any doubt about experimental design or treatment of data.

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More information

For further information, please contact the VAMAS Secretariat(