Electronic Awards 2016

For several years, we have had to combine the print and electronic awards into one award, for the simple reason that we have received an insufficient number of nominations for electronic resources. For example, last year of our three finalists, two were printed books and a third a website (Darwin Online).   Fortunately, this year we received nearly as many electronic nominations as we did print, so a separate set of awards.

A major issue with electronic resources is the question of how they are funded.   Some are available only through a subscription, others rely on income from adverts, and a third sort are supported by government, charitable bodies, private benefactors or public donations.       All three have their particular problems. The subscription resource often incurs too high a cost for something that may get little use.   We all know the problem with those funded by adverts; however good the information contained on the site may be, you often can’t see the wood for the trees through the adverts that pop up, flash out and generally distract you.   As for the third kind, policies may change, funds dry up or the individuals who dedicated themselves to the resource, move on.

We cannot say for sure that this or that site was first made available in a particular year. What we can say is that looking at the resources at a specific time, in this case September 2016, these are sites we recognise as good and would recommend to librarians and information workers.

drugwise

DrugWise promotes evidence-based information on drugs, alcohol and tobacco; the information is both topical and non-judgemental. The name may be a little confusing to start with, but once you realise that the focus is with drugs as in drug misuse, the purpose of the site becomes obvious.

The layout of the site is clear and easy to use. The two main sections are the Drug Search and the I-Know Hub. This latter contains the text of important international reports on drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Within each of the three main topics, there are sub-divisions making searching very straightforward. For example, within the alcohol section the sub-divisions include prevalence, treatment and criminal justice.

Drug Search covers over 150 drugs and drug-related terms.   Here you can find out about legal highs, magic mushrooms or chasing the dragon.   When describing a specific drug, the entry gives a description of the drug, the law, history, effects and risks, and finally links to related sites for further information. The information is given very clearly and precisely, and the style is informal and personal. The site also has a comments section, book reviews and Find a Service which gives links to treatment services.

This is the third incarnation of this website, and there is a fully-indexed archive of articles back to the beginnings in 1986.

In an area where there are numerous sites all claiming to do the same thing, DrugWise stands out as a good central resource for obtaining balanced and scholarly information.   Therefore, DrugWise at www.DrugWise.org.uk is COMMENDED in the 2016 Information Services Group Reference Awards for Electronic Resources.

fullfact2

FullFact is a UK-based charity that fact-checks current issues relating to the UK both internally and on the international scene. It says it is independent of government, political parties and the media.

The range of topics covered is impressive; the major subject divisions are the economy, Europe, health, crime, education, immigration and law. Within each of these there are cross references to the other subjects.   There are always links to the original sources and these can include newspapers, House of Commons Library briefings, government reports and journal articles. For example, in answer to the question ‘what is so great about the Great Repeal Bill?’, there are links to over 18 other sites or documents – Acts of Parliament, law reports and opinions, Conservative Party manifesto, etc. etc.   Other entries will state whether the fact is true or not, for example it does cost over £200,000 to train a doctor as Jeremy Hunt claimed on 4th October this year.

The site is amazingly up-to-date. I was writing the item on Saturday 22nd October, the questions asked and answered on the BBC Question Time the previous evening had been fact checked.   Another regular questions and answer event fact checked is Prime Minister’s Question time.

All of this is extremely easy to access and navigate. By concentrating on major political, social and economic issues, it makes itself the website to check quickly and effectively for the full facts behind what we are hearing from politicians and the media.

FullFact at https://fullfact.org is HIGHLY COMMENDED in the 2016 Information Services Group Reference Awards for Electronic Resources.

nhs

Both the previous websites are independently funded through donations, both large and small and supported by many volunteer workers.   NHS Choices is, as its name suggests, run and funded by the NHS.   Over the years, ISG has had a lot of involvement with government websites through the work of the Standing Committee on Official Publications, and the experiences have not always been very good.   Even as trained information professionals, we have found some of the sites to be real quagmires for trying to find anything out. So heaven help the layperson!

That is of course all changing, and there are many attempts to make access easy and intuitive with information that is understandable and helpful.   The judging panel felt that NHS Choices, the official NHS site, was an outstanding example.

It offers a comprehensive information service with articles, videos, tools to help you make decisions plus lots of illustrations. The main topic areas are medical conditions, healthy living, care and support, health news and services near you. As one panel member commented ‘this site tells you everything you want to know, plus some things you’d rather not know’.

The site is attractive, easy to use and clear, the articles are well written and fully comprehensible to a lay person, policies are explained and there are numerous links to other parts of the site and to external sources.   Entries show when the pages were last updated and when the next update is due. There is a good search engine and there is also the ability to tailor your searches by creating a Your Pages account.

There are plenty of medical sites online, but NHS Choices scores because it has so much information concentrated in one place, and because it carries the authority of the NHS.

NHS Choices – your health, your choices at www.nhs.uk is the WINNER in 2016 Information Services Group Reference Awards for Electronic Resources.

Refer 32 (3) Autumn 2016

 

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