Web Magazine for Information Professionals


Catherine Sladen describes an information gateway for Business Studies and Economics.

Building upon an already self funding project, delivering networked resources and primary materials to students and teachers in the schools and colleges, eLib funding has enabled biz/ed [1].to expand and meet the needs of the students and lecturers in higher education. The project seeks to identify these needs through a series of partnerships and evaluation sessions. Partnerships with both the academic community and the business world enable biz/ed to provide quality resources which meet the needs of students and teachers at all levels.

Working primarily with the Association of Business Schools (as well as CTI Economics and The Economics & Business Education Association), biz/ed has located subject experts who will identify quality educational resources to support the teaching and learning of business and economics. These resources will then be added to a database, based on the ROADS system, working along similar lines to SOSIG. The use of remote, distributed cataloguing by subject experts (who have been trained and fully supported with both paper based and on-line documentation) enables the profession to "own" the content of the database of resource descriptors; adding quality descriptions according to their own individual subject expertise.

Biz/ed's extensive and comprehensive searchable database forms the centrepiece of the project and will be publicly available from February. But this is not the only aspect of the project which is of interest to higher education users: the location of materials, which whilst not necessarily meeting the quality criteria required for entry into the database are, nonetheless, useful resources for both students and lecturers. For example, biz/ed has searched for journals available on the Internet. The quality of publication and extent of the information displayed is varied. However, consultation with lecturers has revealed that listings of journals, whatever the quality, are useful, particularly if biz/ed can briefly describe the contents.

Listings of useful contacts, contained in a searchable database, of both people and organisations, is another way in which biz/ed can bring together widely distributed networked information and make it available in a user-friendly format.

Nationally recognised providers of data, such as Penn World Data and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have given biz/ed access to datasets, enabling students to choose and manipulate data, simply and quickly, to the extent that the chosen variables can be exported into a spreadsheet package for further analysis. Biz/ed is committed to the development of existing and new on-line datasets, both quantitative and textual.

Biz/ed has also negotiated with well known plcs such as The Body Shop and Unilever to provide Company Facts, to provide the answers to frequently asked questions; case studies are also made available. Links to FTSE 100 companies and to other well known Plcs have been organised by sector, to make it as simple as possible to find company websites.

Primary materials for assessment, the expansion of the online glossary of technical terms, a "talkback" feature and experiments in virtual classrooms are just a few of the project's promised deliverables. Biz/ed is still developing its new resources and would welcome feedback and comments by interested parties.


[1] Biz/ed Web Site,

Author Details

Catherine Sladen is the Biz/ed Research Officer at the ILRT in Bristol
Email: Catherine.Sladen@Bristol.ac.uk