Notes on the 12th IMEKO TC1-TC7 Joint Symposium on Man, Science & Measurement

Held in Annecy, France, September 3-5, 2008

Two technical committees of the International Measurement Confederation, IMEKO, recently held their 12th symposium on philosophical and social issues associated with measurement and metrology, including psychosocial measurement applications, in Annecy, France. The committees involved were TC-1 (Education and Training in Measurement and Instrumentation) and TC-7 (Measurement Science). The meeting was conducted in English, with participants from 21 countries around the world. For this symposium, 77 papers were submitted, of which 60 were accepted. There were three plenary keynote lectures, and 74 registered attendees.

In the first plenary session, Ludwik Finkelstein introduced himself as an elder preserving the organizational memory of the TC-7 on Measurement Science. Finkelstein touched on personal relationships from the past before describing new potentials for the technical committee beyond technical measurement issues. He was particularly interested in making the point that measurement theory has been more thoroughly and rigorously grounded in psychology, education and other fields than it has been by metrological technologists. He contrasted strong versus weak measurement theories, and positivist versus anti-positivist philosophies of measurement, referring to the mathematical metaphysics of Galileo and Kelvin. Postmodernism was presented as anti-objective. The difference between metrological and psychometric reliability was pointed out, with an apparent assumption of inherent opposition and probable irreconcilability. Finkelstein also touched on issues of validity, public verifiability, standards, and traceability. He called for the introduction of traceability in psychosocial measurement.

William Fisher's presentation on "New Metrological Horizons" began by referring to Finkelstein's observations concerning the complementary potentials presented by probabilistic measurement theory's articulation of invariance and parameter separation as criteria for objectivity, on the one hand, and by metrology's focus on the traceability of individual measures to global reference standards. Evidence of the potential for traceability was offered in the form of the cross-sample invariance of item calibrations, the cross-instrument invariance of measures, and the cross-instrument/cross-sample invariance of constructs. Finkelstein responded to the presentation, saying that he was greatly encouraged and that his hopes for the future of measurement and metrology had been elevated.

In other presentations, subjective evaluations of sensory perceptions were compared with objective optical, haptic (tactual), and auditory measures. One presentation in this category was in effect a multifaceted judged visual inspection. Another presentation involved a probabilistic model for dichotomous observations quite similar to a Rasch model. The majority of the papers concerned the design and optimization of practical measurement networks and systems. A natural place for Rasch measurement emerged in the context of evaluating the effectiveness of metrology education programs.

The second day's plenary keynote was delivered by Paul De Bièvre, the Editor-In-Chief of the journal, Accreditation and Quality Assurance: Journal for Quality, Comparability, and Reliability in Chemical Measurement. His topic concerned the International Standards Organization's (ISO) International Metrology Vocabulary. De Bièvre was enthused enough about Fisher's presentation to invite an article introducing Rasch's probabilistic models to the Accreditation and Quality Assurance journal readership. Because of its similarity to De Bièvre's own work in clarifying the vocabulary of metrology, Fisher offered his work on the ASTM E 2171 - 02 Standard Practice for Rating Scale Measures for consideration.

TC-7 publishes Metrology & Measurement Systems, and prides itself on moving articles from submission to review to publication within three months. A recent special issue, "The Evolving Science of Measurement", included articles with titles such as "Rankings as Ordinal Scale Measurement Results" (outlining an elaborate two-dimensional analysis), "Advances and Generic Problems in Instrument Design Methodology," and "Self-Configuring Measurement Networks."

IMEKO membership is structured with member countries (39), friends of one or more technical committees, and honorary members.

TC-7 will participate in the XIX IMEKO World Congress that will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, September 6-11, 2009, with the theme of "Fundamental and Applied Metrology." through which abstracts can be submitted electronically. These are due December 15, 2008. Notification of acceptance will be made by April 15, 2009, and final paper submissions are due by June 1, 2009.

The next joint TC1-TC7 symposium on Man, Science & Measurement will be held in London at City University, September 1-3, 2010, with the theme "Without Measurement, There is No Science, and Without Science, There is No Measurement." Ludwik Finkelstein and Sanowar Khan will host the meeting. Professor Kahn indicated that there is interest in having a session on psychosocial measurement theory and practice.

William P. Fisher, Jr.

Notes on the 12th IMEKO TC1-TC7 Joint Symposium on Man, Science & Measurement. Fisher W.P.Jr. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 2008, 22:1 p. 1147




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