www.infotoday.com November 2008
by MICK O’LEARY |
his should be the Golden Age of Statistics. We’ve been loading sta-
CABI Health Archive Accessible on EBSCOhost tistical information onto the internet since it began. Since the World
CABI’s Global Health Archive database, which includes more than 800,000 records Wide Web arrived and made data access easier, almost every agency
on public health, tropical and communicable diseases, nutrition, helminthology, en- or organization that creates statistics has been uploading them.
tomology, and mycology, is now But it’s still a struggle to find reliable statistics. Google and the other
accessible on EBSCOhost. As search engines work poorly with stats. An immense proportion of all online
a companion to Global Health, stats are in the deep web and known only to small numbers of informed re-
a public health database al- searchers and librarians. The stats are often embedded in documents and
ready featured in EBSCO- reports and not detected by search programs. The result: Most of us find
host that includes more than statistics only at great cost in time and, sometimes, in search fees, if we find
1.2 million records, Global them at all.
Health Archive will provide a This Great Statistics Problem is what makes NationMaster (www.nation
global picture of health re- master.com) and StateMaster (www.statemaster.com) so tantalizing. They
search over time. aggregate statistics from all over the web in a single location with a single
The database features re- interface and a common format. They gather key statistics from prominent
search carried out over the producers worldwide on many key subjects. NationMaster covers hundreds
course of several decades on of countries, and StateMaster concentrates on the U.S. They have an easy-
topics including bioterrorism, to-use interface with several added value presentations for the statistics;
disease control, patent pro- they are also free and do not require registration.
tection, food security and
malnutrition, and the effects of economic development on health. Its goal is to put
international and public health problems in a historical context by reviving research
A Critical Flaw?
that otherwise might have been lost to time. All this sounds too good to be true, and it is. NationMaster and State-
Source: EBSCO Publishing (www.ebscohost.com) Master have several minor flaws, which we could easily forgive. After all,