This project represents a team effort involving five individuals representing three universities. Team members communicated primarily via email to carry out work on the project.

A literature review was conducted, focusing particularly on articles addressing Web design and criteria for developing reliable, authoritative, user friendly Web sites. Many of these articles are located on the Web itself (see Bibliography).

The scope of the project was limited to health information sites for the purpose of identifying the most useful sites for assisting with health sciences reference. Publications such as Medicine on the Net and MLA News were scanned for URLs focusing on health information. An email message was also sent to the HealthWeb listserv, requesting members to send URLs to health information megasites. Individual sites were also examined for links to other relevant health information sites.

Team members developed a criteria checklist addressing content, design, and administration & quality control features for evaluating each site. Team members examined each of the fifty-two recommended sites and made final determinations on which sites to include in the project, based on the criteria checklist, and resulting in a list of twenty-five sites for inclusion.

Of particular note regarding the design component, search engines for the sites were evaluated using the following methodology. Standardized searches were used to test the site's search engine, using the term "cholesterol," the truncated form "cholest," and the boolean terms "cholesterol and heart." Results were ranked from 1 to 5, with 1 as the highest.

  • 1 = relevant results, most relevant listed first
  • 2 = some relevant results
  • 3 = marginal results
  • 4 = few results, highest ranked results not relevant
  • 5 = no results
A brief survey of each site was conducted. Surveys were sent highest priority email with an initial response rate of 20%. Repeated requests eventually generated a 76% response rate, with 17 of 25 sending complete responses and two sites sending incomplete responses.
Health on the Net Foundation
Health A to Z
Medical Matrix
Medical World Search
Multimedia Medical Reference Library
Health Sciences Library, U of Pittsburgh
Virtual Hospital
WWW Virtual Library: Biosciences: Medicine
Yahoo Health

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Last updated: May 24, 1998.
Copyright 1997, 1998, P. F. Anderson, Nancy Allee, Jean Chung, Brian Westra, Virginia Lingle.