News from BIOME

Jenny Hall and Donald Mackay report on recent news form BIOME, the Health and Life Sciences hub of the Resource Discovery Network.

BIOME Hot Topics

BIOME contains a wealth of information on a wide range of topics in the health and life sciences and we aim to keep introducing new features in line with user needs. As of October 2004 we are trialling a new fortnightly feature - 'Hot Topics'.

Subject experts within the BIOME team will choose an area of interest or a current topic and provide links to key sites in our database for that theme. BIOME 'Hot Topics' are useful for those seeking inspiration for project work, possible ideas for essay themes, or simply as a quick route into subjects of interest. Topics covered so far include dyslexia and chocolate. To see more, check out Hot Topics [1].

If you would like to see a particular topic covered, or would like to provide us with feedback on this feature, please email us [2].

Expanding and Developing BIOME Content

Since our inception, we have worked with a wide range of UK universities, professional organisations, charities and other groups within the UK to obtain content for the core BIOME database. For example we have recently signed an agreement with the Midwives Information and Resource Service (MIDIRS) [3].

Over the last year this work has been taken further by the establishment of agreements with other information providers in the health and life sciences to display their content within the BIOME Gateways and vice versa. We are keen to avoid duplication of effort - especially with services elsewhere in the public sector. Given the overlap (both in terms of content and in terms of potential users) between BIOME and the range of NHS online information services in the UK, we have been keen to work together with these services.

With this in mind, we have recently signed formal agreements to swap or cross-search and display data in each other's gateways with NHS Education Scotland (developers of the NHS Scotland eLibrary) [4] and Queen's University Belfast (developers of Health on the Net Northern Ireland - HONNI) [5]. We hope to extend this to include other NHS information providers over the next few months.

Overall we are undertaking a range of partnership, project and other activities to expand the content that can be searched for from the BIOME gateways and to expand and enrich the core content held within the core BIOME database.

To give some examples:

  • Our collaboration with the LTSN Subject Centres [6] within the health and life sciences will come to fruition in 2004/2005. The outputs of this collaboration will enable our users to cross-search a union catalogue of descriptions of learning and teaching resources. It will also mean that over 700 BIOME records will have additional pedagogically controlled vocabularies added to them.
  • As a result of the 'RDN for FE' Project [7], we hope soon to be able to provide access to a far wider collection of new and enhanced records aimed specifically at users from Further Education.
  • BIOME's participation in the ePrints UK Project [8] will bring the ability to cross-search the metadata contained in the project's central repository of eprint metadata from the BIOME Web site.
  • We have restructured our content provider model over the last year, cutting internal content production and actively recruiting additional individual and institutional content providers. The new providers bring the benefits of direct and live experience of working directly with our core users - staff and students in UK HE and FE - helping to ensure that the our core catalogue remains relevant to their needs.
  • We will soon be undertaking a complete review of our content addition and content reviewing processes to ensure that the content of collections remains up to date and of relevance to our users' needs.
  • To expand further the content that users can search within the BIOME hub we plan to develop a BIOME Web Search Engine.

User Feedback

We would like to find out your views on BIOME and its future development. Complete our short (should take less than ten minutes to complete) questionnaire [9] and you will be entered into a monthly draw to receive one of six £30 Book tokens or Amazon gift vouchers.

The deadline for the next prize draw (drawn from survey responses received after 18 October) is 12th November 2004. Prizes will be drawn on 15 November.

The survey will continue to be available after this date and further responses are welcome.

Changes at BIOME

Peter Hoare has been recruited to the BIOME service. Peter brings with him a wealth of experience in health and agricultural information and we are delighted to have him on board as a BIOME Service Officer.


  1. Hot Topics
  2. BIOME Feedback
  4. eLibrary Scotland
  5. HONNI
  6. LTSN Subject Centres
  7. RDN for FE project
  8. ePrints UK
  9. BIOME questionnaire

Author Details

Jenny Hall
BIOME Admin Officer

Web site:

Donald M Mackay
BIOME Service Manager

Web site:

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Date published: 
Saturday, 30 October 2004
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