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									                                                                                                                                                       InformationToday             37
                                                                                                                                                         www.infotoday.com   November 2008




                                                                                                 Database Review

                                                                                           NationMaster
                                                                                           and StateMaster
                                                                                           Solve Great
                                                                                           Statistics Problem—Almost
                                                                                           by MICK O’LEARY   |


                                                                                           T
                                                                                                    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,
                                                                                           nobody’s perfect. However, they also have one major problem that casts
                                                                                           doubt on their basic utility.
New Nstein                                                                                    NationMaster and StateMaster are produced by Rapid Intelligence, a
CMS Puts                                                                                   Sydney, Australia-based web design company. It also produces Factbites
                                                                                           (www.factbites.com), a clever search engine that extracts content-rich seg-
Publishers First                                                                           ments from a large mass of search results (see Information Today, June
                                                                                           2008). NationMaster was launched in 2003 and StateMaster in 2006, in re-
   Nstein Technologies’ new                                                                sponse to the Great Statistics Problem. The sites are ad-supported with a
WCM 4.0 content management                                                                 prominent ad presence on every page.
system provides tools for the
creation and management of
complex websites and micro-
                                                                                           NationMaster
sites, just for publishers. Ac-                                                              NationMaster (NM) covers a wide range of statistical subjects and pro-
cording to the company, cus-                                                  
								
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