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Know-it-all, Tell-it-all Blog

Evaluating Databases

Posted by 2thelibrary on 09/12/2010

  1. Visit the database and carefully examine the features on its front page;
  2. Determine what type of database you are working with. What types of information formats does it retrieve? What subjects does it cover? Visit the help or about page for clues.
  3. Carefully examine and evaluate the database so that you know its best and worst features.
  4. Is there an advanced search page? What special features does it offer?
  5. Are there any other special features? (image searching? translation? subject trees?)
  6. How are results organized and displayed? In what order? Are there summaries? Annotations? Keywords to guide searchers?
  7. Try at least two searches on school-type subjects to “road test” your database. Feel free to search for an assignment you are currently working on.

After the “road test” you should be ready to create a commercial!

  • Use the organizer below to help you design a 2-minute commercial to sell your database to the group. Decide how you will present. Remember to use advertising language. Remember to include those slightly negative features consumers need to know, as “small print,” at the end of your presentation. Remember also your presentation must address: What are the five major selling points for this database?
  • Present your commercial to the group. To be effective, you should actually demonstrate the database’s features by giving the class an actual tour with examples. Include screenshots in your PowerPoint.
  • Following the presentations, the class will discuss and rank the databases based on their usefulness for class assignments and how well you presented.

Database Evaluation Organizer

Use this chart to help you record the features you’ll be demonstrating in your advertisement. You can download a copy of this document for notetaking here.


Name of Database:

Name(s) of Advertisers / Students:


Database Content
What information formats does this database contain? (Examples: newspapers, magazines, television transcripts, video, etc.)

Is it a general database or does it cover specific subject areas?


Interface:
Is the interface “friendly” and attractive? Please comment.

Is it easy to use? Please comment.

Is it easy to find help? What kind of help is offered? Please comment.

Does it contain any multimedia material?


Search Strategies:
Which search strategies can you use? Boolean operators? Phrase searching? Wildcards? Natural language–regular questions or words? Other?

Other search strategies:

Can you search by field? (URL, title, graphics, author, etc.)

Specialized searches: Can you search for: images, audio, video, etc.?

Special Features / Advanced Search:
What unique tricks does this search tool do?

Can you filter for scholarly (refereed, peer reviewed)resources?

Can you filter to get full text only?

Subject searching? Is there a subject tree? Are subject terms displayed after a search?

What else to customers need to know about searching this database?


Results:

How are results arranged?

How can you resort results?
Relevance? Date? Publication? Other?

Are there summaries/annotations?

Are the results in html or pdf format?


Small print: Are there negative features of this database?


What are the five major selling points for this search tool?

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