Judging print materials on their relative merits can be difficult, but judging an electronic resource can be best described as challenging. We do use slightly different criteria from the print resources to enable us to judge aspects such speed, reliability, ease of navigation, currency, whether the site is free or subscription-based and whether it contains advertisements etc. Even so, the sites can be enormously different in approach, design and target audience. Some sites have an extremely broad subject coverage, whilst others are highly specialist and deep. And of course the ‘home’ of the resource can be anywhere in the world.
www.clinicalTrials.gov falls well and truly into the last two categories. Firstly, it is maintained by the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Secondly, it is a complex and specialised resource, being a database of publicly and privately funded medical clinical research studies conducted in the USA and 195 other countries. It provides patients, their families, health care professionals, researchers and the general public with easy access to studies on a wide range of diseases and conditions. There are nearly 300,000 studies recorded, and these can be open or closed studies, those that have reported their results, and those where the results are still awaited.
The design of the site is traditional but effective with excellent navigation. The judging panel were impressed by the particularly helpful guidance provided on searching such a complex resource. And also, how to read a study – very useful if you are new to the subject. There is also a glossary and a good FAQ section. Once you have completed your search, you can download data acquired. There are clearly stated quality control criteria, although, of course, this is dependent on the information provided from the sources.
This is a unique resource from a highly reputable authority which is updated on a daily basis. To a non-medical person, this database may seem daunting at first, but is just as usable and relevant to them as to any member of the health or medical profession. Its objective is to increase transparency and improve public awareness of research and it does that most successfully.
Because the ‘home’ of the website is in the USA, no one was able to accept the award in person. However at the Awards Ceremony on 12thDecember 2018 a short video was shown in which Dr Rebecca Williams, Acting Director of Clinicaltrials, spoke about their pleasure at being given the award. Then Shane Godbolt, formerly Director of the UK-based Partnership in Health Education and an honorary member of the Medical Library Association of America accepted the award on behalf of Clinicaltrials.gov.
Once again, the judging panel felt that another of the nominations received should be mentioned. TNA, The National Archives, atwww.nationalarchives.gov.uk, is an incredible site for historians, researchers, genealogists, teachers and students wishing to gain access to 1,000 years of British history from the Domesday Book to the present. As well as their own holdings, there are links to many other sites, many of which, unlike TNA, are paid-for services.
K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019