Practitioners of ground investigation all aspire to obtain, carry out and deliver good quality investigations and also all understand the basic requirement that these investigations are to be carried out in accordance with current standards of best practice, which are laid down within the national and international Standards. There are, however, variable degrees of adherence to and knowledge of what these standards and Standards are and what these quality aspirations actually are in practice. This perhaps arises because there are many definitions of the terms ‘standards’ and ‘quality’ and this feeds directly into actual day-to-day practice. It is the intention of this paper to try and demonstrate that practitioners need to embrace the whole ethos of Standards and standards to achieve what should be their aspiration for quality. Investigators are required to work to published Standards, various forms of specification and professional practice requirements. There is continuing argument as to whether the achievement of quality is constrained or enhanced by following the Standards, and whether Standards are necessary to achieve the required quality level. The author will try to draw all these strands together and navigate a route to achieving a best practice outcome, drawing on some historical case histories from the author's experience. The question of what effect following the Standards has on innovation in design will also be discussed.

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