NIST Call for White Papers

As I’ve been preparing the course and consulting on a couple of projects, it’s been difficult to make time for postings here. There’s no lack of things to say, that’s for sure! The following is an alert to an opportunity that should not be passed up….

NIST Call for White Papers

The National Institute for Standards and Technology has posted a new Call for White Papers ( as part of its mission “to support, promote, and accelerate innovation in the United States through high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need.”

The White Papers are NIST’s mechanism for collaborating with practitioners in the field in the development of new areas of research into fundamental measurement and metrological systems. NIST is specifically seeking out areas of measurement research that are not currently a priority with any federal funding agency and that have the potential for bringing about fundamental transformations in particular scientific areas.

As was evident in its celebration of World Metrology Day last May, NIST is well aware of the human, economic, and scientific value of technical standards. Mathematics becomes the language of science most fully when universally uniform common currencies provide a lingua franca for communicating experimental results, theoretical predictions, and for economic exchanges of quantitative value. When this truth is fully appreciated, it is obvious that metrological standards for human, social, and natural capital are an area of critical national need that could be highly rewarding. Given the decades of supporting research that are on the books, the risks of investing in this research are quite reasonable. This is especially so when considered relative to the rewards that could accrue from order-of-magnitude improvements in the meaningfulness, utility, and efficiency of measurement based in ordinal observations.

The Call for White Papers is not a funding opportunity but a chance to influence the substance of the areas to be focused on in future funding competitions. One might imagine that NIST would be very interested in supporting research exploring the potential for expanding any of a number of existing measurement systems and methodologies into publicly recognized reference standards.

Deadlines over the next year for White Papers are November 9, February 15, May 10, and July 12, though submissions will be accepted any time between November 9, 2009 and September 30, 2010.

A PDF of a White Paper that builds a case for Rasch-based metrological standards and that was submitted to NIST in its previous round is available at

Further articulations of connections between Rasch measurement and the wider concerns of instruments traceable to reference standards within metrological networks are available in the following, among others:

Fisher, W. P., Jr. (1996, Winter). The Rasch alternative. Rasch Measurement Transactions, 9(4), 466-467 [].

Fisher, W. P., Jr. (1997). Thurstone’s missed opportunity. Rasch20Measurement Transactions, 11(1), 554 [].

Fisher, W. P., Jr. (2000). Objectivity in psychosocial measurement: What, why, how. Journal of Outcome Measurement, 4(2), 527-563 [].

Fisher, W. P., Jr. (2008). Vanishing tricks and intellectualist condescension: Measurement, metrology, and the advancement of science. Rasch Measurement Transactions, 21(3), 1118-1121 [].

Fisher, W. P., Jr. (2009, November). Invariance and traceability for measures of human, social, and natural capital: Theory and application. Measurement (Elsevier), 42(9), 1278-1287.

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LivingCapitalMetrics Blog by William P. Fisher, Jr., Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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