It is important to have an initial assessment of the product to see it it meets the basic criteria. In essence these are the factors that will allow a title onto the desiderata list and those that will exclude it. This generally comes down on three things: a. cost, b. content, c. capability. The following questions will serve as a guide in choosing a database:
- Has the dataset been requested by the large number of users?
- Will it be heavily used by a large number body of readers from all sectors within the institution?
- Will it provide access to information which is not readily available in other formats?
- Will it provide a set of tools or features which is not readily and enhance the use of material?
- Will it offer the possibility of a potential cost or space saving through the cancellation offprint subscription?
- Does it have, or is it likely to have, any competitors?
- Is it essential to maintaining the research profile or competitiveness of a department/faculty/company?
- It is based in a subject area that has been relatively underrepresented by previous dataset purchase?
- Does it complement existing digital services?
- Has it received promise of funding?
- Is it a one-off purchase (ex. it does not add to recurrent cost?)
- Is a consortium deal possible or it regarded as good value for money?
After the title has been selected it is important to request a trial subscription or evaluation copy. The evaluation should draw the on a pool of experts and these would ideally represent:
· Subject specialist
· technical experts
· readers or readers services
· interface experts
· Administrative personnel (to consider such things as the implications of the budget, the proposed license, etc.)
The following list of questions provides a fairly comprehensive guide of the types of issues an evaluation might cover. This would also be of use once a dataset has been purchased, at the renewal stage of the life cycle. The collation of work by other institutions drawing on Oxford University’ Evaluating a (www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dc/eval/htm) dataset and Harvard’s Stewards’ checklist of questions (http:// hul.harvard.edu/cmtes/ulc/coers/checklist.htm).
· Full title of the dataset
· Details of corresponding print publication (if applicable)
· Pricing details
__ payment model
__ recurrent or one-off payment
__ additional fees to third parties or under national taxes
__(if available) average inflation for product over past few years
· Type of product (e.g.) CD-ROM plus platform, internet access, tape, etc.)
· Machine specifications used for evaluation include details such as internet connection if applicable)
· Date and time of evaluations
· Brief description content
Setting up or accessing the dataset
· Is the dataset easy to install
· Is it easy to network?
· Was all the software needed supplied with the installation CD-ROM?
· Were the instructions clear?
· Does it appear to conflict with other functions of the computer/server?
· Can the database be uninstalled easily?
· Did you manage to access the site easily?
· Was the URL intuitive?
· Can you bookmark the site or section of it?
· What browsers will it run under, and what version is needed?
Both local and remote
· Does the dataset require any plug-in?
· Does it create an otherwise excessive burden on the client
· Accessing the opening screen: on average, is this instantaneous, or does it take few seconds
· Accessing the search screen: on average, is this instantaneous or does it take few seconds?
· Have you ever experienced a message saying “too many connections/Users?”
· Is yes, approximately how often does this occur?
· Is there a clear and easily accessible list of the complete contents of the dataset? If this is a growing resource. Or one with updates, how accurate is the list?
· Are there errors noticeable in the text, broken links, or anything else’s which would indicate a lapse in quality control?
· Would you say that the dataset contains everything that is in the print version? What is the relationship between the electronic product and the print holdings of the institutions?
· Have you seen any other publications to compare to this in content?
What are they and how they compare?
· How often is the product updated?
Interface and Searching
· Is there a main menu or some kind of main list that outlines all the functions clearly?
· Is the interface generally easy to use?
· Is the navigation intuitive
· Does it conform to accepted standards for disabled access?
· Was it obvious how to browse or start a search?
· Can you:
__ save searches?
__combine search words?
__use proximity searching?
__use Boolean operators?
__truncate search terms and/or use wildcards?
__limit by year/publication/type/language/other?
__check the indices and pick entries to search for?
__use any command line searches? Is it made clear how to structure these, or how to use special codes
· Can you search the dataset via third-party software (ex. reference manager tool?)
· Do you get a hint if your search achieved no results?
· Can you see history of searches?
· Can you save the search set for future use?
· Can users set up or configure personalized accounts?
· Can the dataset be cross-searched with others?
· Sending a simple search and receiving the results (e.g. looking for a term in a single dataset) on average, is this instantaneous, or does it take few seconds?
· Do results display automatically?
· If not, is it intuitive how to access them?
· Is there a choice of formats for display?
· Can you mark useful results?
· How many records can you mark/save/export at once?
· Are the steps for saving/exporting/printing easy to understand?
· Can you save to a floppy disk/hard disk/either?
· Can you e-mail results?
· In what format are records saved (ASCII, HTML, other)?
· Can the results be exported to third-party software?
· Is it easy to exit/logoff?
· Are you prompted to save or lose your searches/results?
· Is there a timeout system for idle session?
· Is it possible for the administrator to change some settings of the database to suit the users’ needs?
· What authentication system is employed (ex. Username/Password, simultaneous access, domain name, etc)?
· Is there a choice of authentication systems on offer?
· Can you add information to the dataset, such as local holdings? Is it easy to interface the dataset with other electronic products?
Documentation and support
· Is any documentation provided?
· Is it sufficient, covering both installation and use?
· Are there costumer support and technical support facilities?
· Are these available by telephone/fax/email/the web?
· If there is a website does it include information about system status?(ex. Is the system fully operational? Are connections being refused?, etc.)
· Is there any training available? Is this free of charge?
· If there is an online help system how useful is it?
· How easy is it to access the online help mid-session?
· How closely does it mirror the paper documentation?
· Is this product available on a different platform or through a different aggregator? If so, has this been evaluated?
· Is this publication useful? In other words, could you predict a high demand for it (using existing requests for the product, use/importance of the print publication if applicable, ILL request and so on)?
· Would you say this dataset presented good value for money?
· Do you think it will be of use to people in the institution other than the proposer?
· Did you detect any errors or problems either with the actual data or with the search software?
· On average would you envisage using the dataset:
__lees than once a week?
__1-3 times per week?
__once a day?
__more than once a day?
Ask.com.(2013). What are proprietary database. Retrieved on December 05, 2013,
Lee, S.D. (2002). Building an electronic resource collection: a practical guide. Great Britain: MPG Book Ltd.